Last weekend, a group of 50 computer hackers were granted access to the digital archives of Northern arts and heritage institutions as part of Culture Hack North: Leeds 2011. The 24 hour non-stop event, organised by Opera North as part of Leeds Digital Festival, was the first of its kind in the North of England.
The developers formed into teams for an intensive, non-stop period of 24 hours to complete their ‘hacks’ – creative and innovative projects based on the wide range of interesting data available. Organisations that opened up their ‘hidden’ data to the developers including Opera North, Breeze Leeds, Cornerhouse Manchester, Culture Grid, Leeds Libraries, Leeds Museums, Museums Sheffield, Manchester Museums, National Media Museum, National Railway Museum, Northern Ballet, Pilot Theatre, Sheffield Theatres, and Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Eleven hacks in total were created from the data over the weekend, including:
• Consider the Library – a web plug-in that uses data from Leeds Libraries to encourage people browsing for books online to use their local libraries, by informing them of the availability and location of the book they are viewing. The developers are now working on a national version.
• Trains Near Me – a phone app which uses data from the National Railway Museum to map the nearest trains to the user’s location in real time. The National Railway Museum has now expressed an interest in developing this further.
• Whitworth’s Landscape Paintings Mapped – an app which geo-locates landscape paintings from the Whitworth Art Gallery, and combines these with photos from Flickr of how those places look today.
• Colour Tone – an app which turns pictures into music, using the colour values of each line of pixels
Culture Hack North: Leeds 2011 was supported by Marketing Leeds and NTI Leeds. The event took place on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 November at Old Broadcasting House, Leeds. More information can be found online at www.culturehacknorth.co.uk