TechFest NW happened a week or so ago. I was unable to make it to much but I did get down there the participate in my first hackathon. Below is the resulting presentation deck and a recap of what my team did. 


There are hundreds of words, acronyms and jargon used when people discuss, debate and participate in the work ICANN is doing. It's important for people looking to engage in the community to truly understand what they are reading in order to be part of the conversation and understand the impacts of it's policy making. Glossaries work to a certain extent but three issues immediately come up.  



Lot of the discussions are going on outside of ICANN urls so how can we provide a way for the glossary to be accessed no matter where you are.  



Definitions can only go so far. Often context is needed to truly understand the meaning and implications of a word or phrase.



ICANN is a global organization and needs to engage folks around the world. Translations for this type of content will fail pretty quickly if not done by a person who is a native speaker and knows the matrial; even then one person's interpretation may not be accurate or could benefit from other voices. 



A plug in that a publisher can activate on their site that highlights any word found in the ICANN glossary. This highlighted word can then be hovered over for a definition and clicked to get further context or to add to the definition.  

Aside from this contextual access to definitions and translations the tool will ask readers to contribute to the definition and translation of the word or phrase. Crowd sourced understanding!

I was really excited by this idea because its usefulness as a product doesn't end with ICANN this could be applied to many different scenarios and garner some amazing results.  I'd love to build this for real if anyone wants to join me :)


Thanks to TechFest NW, Neo, Hackathon for Social Good and ICANN Labs and my team (see final slide) it was a great time!


I had no idea how big and beautiful the Albatross is. 

I attended Squawkathon a design jam held to come up with solutions for the unintentionally killing of seabirds due to fishing activity. It took place over 2 days. The first being an evening event where we were briefed by experts and broke into teams.  I joined the team that hope to find a solution that utilized incentives. It was a pretty great time. I enjoyed jamming on something completely new that didn't involve a digital solution. I also really enjoyed meeting and chatting with the experts. 

I had a great conversation with Howard McElderry, vice president, EM technology development, and a founding member of Archipelago Marine Research, about the amazing amount of data his company has collected since it's inception and how due to privacy concerns they can't do much with it directly but that he is hired because he is a walking big data machine. Smart guy and fun to talk with.

 Dr. Phillip McGillivary Science Liaison for Coast Guard PACAREA, was on our team and man he's a power house of experience, knowledge and energy. If you ever bump into him don't hesitate to take him out to coffee and hear his stories. 

The rest of the experts were engaging and super smart. I was reminded how much I like scientist. I need to find more opportunities to work with them.

Squawkathon was an experiment organized by Context Partners for their client the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. They were testing the idea of using hackathons and design jams to develop problem solving ideas. I thought it worked ok although to get the greatest amount of value I would consider providing more information upfront and paying the participants to come ready to work having gone deep in to the research materials. As someone who practices Informed design it felt like we were ill equiped to spend the two days doing our best work when the issue was so complex and outside of what we normally do. I would also suggest that the teams should only be made up of no more than 5 people to take away the need to manage and just focus on doing.

Overall I enjoyed myself. The Context Partners folks were awesome! The prize money and water bottle were very nice cherries on top. I'm interested in how the Packard Foundation folks felt it went. Hopefully they will do some follow up with the group!

So here is a snapshot of our solution which I'm pretty proud of. 

I love that we found a multifaceted approach that looked at finding new solutions but also focused on looking at what the fishing companies needed to comply with solutions that are already available and work well if implemented properly. 


The Problem:

  • Marine birds are subject to accidental death due to current fishing practices
  • Fisheries require more tools for marine bird protection
  • Solutions already exist but are not widely adopted due to the difficulty of implementation and lack of incentives

Our process lead us to build our solution in this way. We had a product idea, realized a service arm was needed to support it, then realized that there was a larger business model that could and should emerge. 


Enter Hydra. Our solution is a new business who's mission is - 

Create and bring to market sustainable innovations that support the fishing industry to preserve the lives of seabirds.

The idea is this: There is a need for a self-sustaining system to support continuous innovation and product development and to leverage the larger fisheries to assist the smaller boats with their compliance initiatives. 

We had our first product idea the Smart Streamer, an innovation that removes the barriers to Streamer Line deployment. It creates a bird free area behind the vessel

Seismic survey vessels already use smart streamer technology that maintains even streamer spacing.

•SmartStreamer creates a bird free area behind the vessel

•Streamer lines equipped with precision spatial positioning

•Near real time data of streamer line deployment

•Potential upgrade for additional data


We realized we could build and deploy this product but how could we support it's proper and continuous use?  And how would we make sure we had the resources to continue to innovate.

Our idea was to create a service that installs and maintains this solution and others, including monitoring systems, so fisheries don't have to integrate this into their existing work flow.  We make it easy to comply.

The profits from the product sales and service side of the business would go into more research and development and also support smaller boats in their efforts. We would provide incentives to use the service like providing access to resources and relationships, worker enhancement activities and the most important would be making it super easy to report to the labeling organizations that you are in compliance which gains the fisheries access to special consumer labeling. 

Not bad for a day of work :)


Lastly, learn a bit about The Albatross Task Force

AuthorTyesha Snow