#Hacklatam: The beginning of hemispheric collaboration

Posted on August 13, 2012 by nina

Written by Wilfredo Fernandez for The Miami Herald

Over a month ago, LAB Miami received a twitter mention from SUMA Conectivo,a co-working space in Mar de Plata, Argentina, a bit outside of Buenos Aires. Carlos Maria Schauer, SUMA’s founder, had an idea for connecting co-working spaces through a simultaneous 12-hour Hack event. We immediately saw the potential and committed to this effort. Within the next week, we were able to get commitment from 2Work in Sao Paulo, Co-Work Chile in Santiago and a group called Hacks and Hackers in Bogota. The date was set for Aug. 11, which was fittingly positioned during the Olympic games.

About the same time, the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon plans were formed for that same weekend. Rather than have two Hackathon happenings in Miami, we decided to merge the efforts and create a more dynamic event.

On Aug. 1, we had the local Google team come teach a class at the LAB. That night, we connected with SUMA via Google+ Hangout to co-learn about Google’s social network. The Argentines appreciated the ability to interact with our space and the instructors. The LAB and SUMA had become international classrooms. This was the power of co-working.

Next, the collaborative team behind CVOX, AVCC and LAB solicited a Spanish startup, Almira Labs, to offer up their voice-based services API to the international participants. This event had really gone global.

After deciding on the hashtag #hacklatam, Maty Sanchez, a developer from SUMA, utilized the TokBox and Twitter API to create an interactive video conferencing app, which we used to communicate during the event.

Throughout #hacklatam on Saturday, we exchanged ideas, experiences and learned from one another. Hackers were united across the hemisphere. No final products were finished with the Almira API, but plans are in motion to produce another #hacklatam with Almira. Colombia was represented by two different groups in Bogota: Hacks & Hackers, a global organization of journalists and technologists, and @HackBo, a hacker/tinker space. @HacksHackersBOG was organized locally by Ronnie Lovler, a Knight International Journalism Fellow. With this international event connection, The Knight Foundation has proven their ability to achieve local impact and have global reach.

As my collaborator Ray Ruga of CVOX said, this was Apollo 1, our minimum viable product. Time to learn, build and iterate.

Twitter accelerated serendipity and helped us realize that Miami and Latin America have a great opportunity to innovate and create together. We must connect the talent and ideas across our borders, while finding ways to co-create solutions to our mutual challenges. We are excited to see what comes next.