Will’s World online hack survey results: Your Views!

Over the last three weeks we have been drumming up interest for our idea of an online hack event. This twist on the traditional “in person” format has exciting potential to be more flexible and make great use of social media. It seemed like a very attractive idea to us but, we wondered, what did you think?

We drew up a short survey (15 questions) to capture your views, feedback and any experiences that would help us plan a great online hack. We spread the word through this blog, twitter, mailing lists, websites and asked other to do the same.

To date (the survey is still open) we have received 30 replies to the survey and many direct emails with further input. So a BIG THANK YOU to all! We are delighted that you found time to make this hugely valued contribution and we thought that the least we can do is share here what you told us.

A Good idea

In answer to that core question we found that 84% of our survey respondents felt that the online hack was a good idea, of whom: 57% of respondents thought that an online hack was a good idea and would be interested in taking part; a further 27% of respondents felt it was a good idea but they were not sure how it would work.

  • 75% of respondents had attended hack events in the past, and interestingly 3 have already taken part in an online hack.
  • It is very encouraging to see that most people are supportive of the online format – only 10% would prefer an in-person event. Only one person doesn’t think it will work and another said they wouldn’t be interested in taking part.
  • Significantly, all three experienced online hackers think it’s a good idea with two of them definitely interested in participating is this hack – this is really encouraging!

Timing – it’s all relative…

Opinions are divided over what format might work best. This is not surprising since most of our respondents had not been to an online hack before so were being asked to speculate on what might work. However, close to half of those who responded favour a week-long drop-in format. Others were split between weekend and weekday days – we had lots of conflicting comments about availability here.

We didn’t ask you where you were based – although we would if we did this again – but from your experience and email addresses we know we have respondents from both sides of the Atlantic which further encourages us that any possible timings and format needs to support an international hack attendance as elegantly as possible.


We were really pleased to see that you weren’t just being lovely in sharing your views, you were also really up for participating!
  • 50% of respondents said they are definitely interested in taking part in this hack, with an additional 30% a “maybe”, and several others interested but unable to attend on the specific suggested dates in December.
  • A significant number of people (52%) indicated that they may be able to bring additional data to the hack. However, most note that it would depend on having enough time to prepare it and/or obtain approval for sharing the data.

Social Media Technologies

Social media tools are essential in supporting the communication required by an online hack. Many applications are popular and received support from the participants of the survey, as seen in the graph below:

Knowing what tools you already use means we now feel well informed to choose the right combination of social media and web technologies that will ensure you feel comfortable and familiar with the tools and work for the functionality we think we would need.

We need you… but what do you need?

We also asked you what you might need to be able to take part in an online hack. The main requests were for:

as much data as possible

information on the data available ahead of the event

easy access to the data

access to the APIs ahead of the event

We can definitely see from these responses and our word cloud for this question (below) that the data is crucial!

Team-building and help with communication tools ahead of the event were also highlighted. The importance of time, pizza, publicity, prizes and a greater technology know-how were also mentioned!


So who are you all?

  • 50% of  respondents work in the Higher Education section. A further 18% are freelance and 11% work in the private sector.
  • Participants were from highly varied background, with different expertise and interests: from experienced developers, to artists, designers, managers, engineers, teachers, students, librarians – the only common characteristics seemed to be a passion for hacking, for Shakespeare or for both!
  • 92% shared their email with us to be kept informed on the developments of our online hack event – thank you! We will be in touch with you soon!

If you’re not one of those who responded but would like to stay up to date on the hack event please either fill in the survey now or drop an email to edina@ed.ac.uk with “Wills World” in the subject line.

I Love Shakespeare

You have shared with us your wishes for playing with data, engaging with communication tools, supporting learning and producing creative material. You have encouraged us in our ambitious vision but warned us of the difficulties too.

Most of all, the word cloud for our additional comments section seems to indicate that you simply love Shakespeare!

Will’s World Online Hack is Coming Soon!

Following the positive responses we have received, we have looked further into the practicalities of organising an online hack event and are delighted to let you know that we will be going ahead with the event in early December! Further details and the official announcement will be out very soon… Watch this space!