The pleasing difficulty of judging a hack day

Bath:Hacked is asking the brightest and most creative people in our city to spend two days thinking, playing and hacking an untapped seam of BANES data.

It was with huge excitement that I headed along to Coworking Bath on Sunday morning for the judging of the first Bath Hacked event.

I arrived around 11AM, by which time the teams had been working for over 24 hours on their hacks. I spent 5 minutes or so with each of the teams in turn, looking at where they’d got to and getting a feel for where they were heading in the rest of the time they had.

There were no set judging criteria as such but I constructed a set of questions that I asked of each team I met to get a feel for:

  • The clarity of user need(s) being addressed
  • The importance being placed on the quality of user experience created
  • The application of locally-sourced data, especially that recently released by B&NES for the event
  • Tactics employed to clean, munge and splice data to make the data meaningful.

Around 3PM, the teams gathered together and presented to one another, the judges and a big group of curious onlookers for 4 minutes. Then it was over to me, Doug Laughlen and Valerie West to try to decide which team should win in each of 4 categories:

  • Grand Prize (£1k) – awarded to the best overall project, judged most imaginative, well conceived and likely to benefit the community, local business and/or the environment
  • Community Impact (£250) – awarded to the project most likely to resonate with the wider community
  • Best use of data (£250) – we’re looking for useful, clever or just plain surprising ways to use local data
  • Best completed project (£250) – shipping certainly isn’t mandatory, but there’s glory for those who manage it!

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On my desktop this week… ‘The Golden Hours’ by Saddo

'Golden hours' by Saddo
‘Golden hours’ by Saddo

‘The Golden Hours’ is a show about two different visions on time, memories and death by artists Aitch and Saddo.

This is a piece (or a group of pieces) from that show. I love the mish-mash mythological styles, especially the colouring, in Saddo’s work.

Check out the rest of the pieces from the show on Saddo’s Flickr page. And here’s a write up.

On my desktop this week… ‘Untitled #20’ by Filip Dujardin

'Untitled #20' by Filip Dujardin
'Untitled #20' by Filip Dujardin

This is my favourite from a series called ‘Fictions’ by digital artist, Filip Dujardin.

His architectural creations are from a parallel dystopia. Unemcumbered by the laws of architecture, he has constructed completely original building dimensions and layouts, which are nonetheless distrurbingly familiar.

You can tour the rest of ‘Fictions’ at

On my desktop this week… ‘Misty Trees’ by Hannah Skoonberg

'Misty Trees' by Hannah Skoonberg
'Misty Trees' by Hannah Skoonberg

I am trying to get better at identifying tree species. I am also trying to get better at photographing trees; I never seen to be able to catch their character.

An artist who I think does capture trees beautiful is the printmaker, Hannah Skoonberg. Her portfolio is at

The example I’ve drawn on here reminds me of the forests I used to walk in as a kid. I could stare into it for ages.

On my desktop this week… ‘Thirteen Senses/Crystal Sounds’ by Patrick Leger

'Thirteen Senses/Crystal Sounds' by Patrick Leger
'Thirteen Senses/Crystal Sounds' by Patrick Leger

I don’t know too much about Patrick Leger other than I first saw his work in Wired and really dig his old-timey comic stylings.

This latest work is the cover art for the album ‘Crystal Sounds‘ by a band called Thirteen Senses.

It’s a very evocative vision he’s created, and standing here about to become a dad and doing some of the most exciting work I’ve ever done, I feel that I can kind of relate.

On my desktop this week… ‘Disassembly’ by Todd McLellan

'Disassembly' by Todd McLellan
'Disassembly' by Todd McLellan

In his ‘Disassembly’ series, Todd McLellan takes apart everyday technology, lays the bits out, then chucks them up in the air. He takes photos at each stage and each photo is very simple yet captivating.

This shot of the typewriter caught my eye. Typewriters look complex from the outside for a piece of technology with one straight function, and just look at the parts and the engineering involved!

This work made me think of my Grandfather. He loves to take technology apart and see what makes it work. PCs are his favourite disassemble.

On my desktop this week… ‘Gatecrasher’ by Rob Johnson

'Gatecrasher' by Rob Johnson
'Gatecrasher' by Rob Johnson

Rob Johnson is one of the most talented creatives I’ve worked with. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him and his desk of stuff for 6 months at Dog Digital.

I remember he decided to have a go at Lomography and bought a crazy looking camera. Oh how we laughed at Rob and his giant red camera.

But look at him now, producing top quality photography and in the final 10 of the LoBlography Challenge. With efforts like the one above, he should win. He needs a less in-yo-face camera.

Rob blogs at BitsofBobs.

On my desktop this week… ‘t is for tomato’ from ‘AlphaDeath’ series by Philip Tseng

't is for tomato' by Philip Tseng
't is for tomato' by Philip Tseng

Got a bambino on the way, so I’m getting interested in alphabets and numbers.

It was in searching for some leftfield alphabets to put up in Baby’s room, that I found the ‘AlphaDeath‘ series on the Minicubby portfolio site of one Philip Tseng.

The premise of ‘AlphaDeath‘ is a fruit for each letter being killed. Probably not appropriate for the use I originally had in mind but neat nonetheless.