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Hacking for Social Good Canvas, RHoK June 2012, and connecting problem-havers to solution-makers

This weekend marked another fun RHoK, or Random Hacks of Kindness. About 25 cities participated this year, ranging from Philadelphia, PA (!) to Santo Domingo. Check out to see some of the problems/solutions from this and past hacks.

There were 7 groups (6 presented at the end). The projects included:

  • (continuation of another hackathon project)
  • (search and knowledge-base for immigration questions)
  • Change for a 5 (no site, crowdfunding via subscription)
  • Yo! Philly Votes (voting incident dashboard)
  • My High School Guide (guide to HS eligibility in Philadelphia)
  • meta-RHoKing (making problem definitions more accessible to problem definers)

Check out the links above (for those that have them) to check out the work. As for me, I was on the meta-RHoK team — we like RHoK, so we worked on RHoK while we were at RHoK. I came late Saturday and missed the problem presentations, and there was no one place to go see them. In theory, that should be on, right? Well, check out the current “add problem definition” page (sorry, you need to login).

The page is long, unwieldy, and definitely not accessible to someone with a ‘sort of an idea’ who’s trying to make it concrete enough to recruit a team of hackers to work on it. So what if we helped people define better problems and engineer better solutions as a result?

If the embed here doesn’t work, or you want another way to show the canvas, see the canvas on Google Docs.

Download this file

Enter the Social Hacking Canvas (the title’s not nailed down). Inspired by the Business Model Canvas, it can be printed out and shared at RHoK pre-events (ex. Friday night events, or a couple weeks beforehand). The canvas isn’t RHoK specific, so it can be used for other social hacking events (ex. Crisis Commons, etc.).

The original idea I had was to make an interactive version of this canvas, but since we had access to the dev server, we made modifications to the form for We’ll discuss if the changes are right, or how they can be improved, and they might be rolled out to live.

Obviously, the canvas doesn’t have everything, and I’d love to leave more writing space (but don’t want to make the text tiny). I can imagine this being used as a template to write it out on a whiteboard and allow participants to add sticky notes to the board as discussion occurs. Someone can use that content to update progressively, rather than leaving it all happening offline. What do you think of the canvas? Did you participate in RHoK this go around? Will you participate in December?

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