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Hackathons in the Time of Corona

Vesna Manojlovic — 30 Mar 2020
To continue collaborative creation, let's challenge ourselves to make the longest hackathon: an on-going on-line open-data analysis of the health of the Internet during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since 2014, the RIPE NCC has organised more than ten face-to-face hackathon events. We have a thriving community of people who want to contribute, and in "The Time of Corona" [1] there is an opportunity to try something new: an open-ended online hackathon! 

Take Part

Updates

6 April 2020

We had a small and productive Jit.Si meeting with 4 people, where we talked about the possible cooperations that started previous week.  

During the previous week, several more RIPE Labs articles on the impact of COVD-19 were published, collected on this aggregator link: https://labs.ripe.net/covid19 .

Our plans are to continue on the existing projects: please join us! 

  • Contributing feedback & features to Internet Health Report:
  • Using OONI & RIPE Atlas data to uncover blocked web-sites with COVID-19 info, per country
  • Improving documentation of magma-guide 
  • Participating in many other hackathons, cross-connecting communities 

The next weekly video chat will take place on Monday, 13. April: 1PM UTC / 3PM CEST  on Tuesday 14. April at 11:30 AM CEST (on Jitsi

30 March 2020: #WiseGeeseUniteCarefully  

On our second call we had five participants, who reported on the progress of their projects and informed each other on the plans for the next week. 

Several articles were published in the meantime: 

What we are going to work on:

If you would like to join, see more information about the communications channels we use below. Stay Safe! 

The next weekly video chat will take place on Monday, 6. April: 1PM UTC / 3PM CEST (on Jitsi)

 

25 March 2020

We had a successful first call on Monday, 23 March with about ten participants from various organisations and backgrounds. We discussed a number of ideas and possible projects such as:

  • Analysing data collected by the RIPE Routing Information Service (RIS) to look for signals and changes
  • Mining OONI data looking for potential blocking of public health related websites
  • Searching for patterns in RIPE Atlas data
  • Reviewing the CitizenLab/tests-lists and add websites relevant to COVID-19
  • Improving documentation and guidance on performing network measurements related to networks interference

You can these and other projects and the list of current participants on this EtherPad document: please join, it's an open document! 

To join the chat platform you can get an invite by visiting: https://slack.ooni.org/ and then join the #ooni-dev channel. (the channel is also bridged with irc.oftc.net #ooni-dev)

 

The Next weekly video chat will take place on Monday, 30. March: 1PM UTC /  3PM CEST  (on Jitsi) 

20 March 2020

Start contributing to this EtherPad page.

Write to your usual RIPE Community mailing list.

Join our Video-Chat every Monday at 2 PM UTC

Clarification: WE ARE COVERING MULTIPLE TIME ZONES with the same meeting! 

For example: 

  • 2PM UTC = London / Lisbon / Dublin time
  • 3PM CET = Amsterdam / Berlin / Belgrade time
  • 4PM EET = Athens / Sofia / Riga / Helsinki  

 

Existing COVID-19 Hackathons

As of 20 March 2020, there are as many as five ongoing other virtual hackathons  in various countries. They are mostly focused on medical data, local support, 3D printing, and businesses.

There is a lot of disconnected effort going on: in order to take part I have created eight new accounts on six different platforms. I am a member of four new Slack channels and each hackathon has between 10 & 120 projects proposed.

That's why I decided to organise one more event ;-)

Connecting People is my super-power, and since most of the large RIPE Community events have been postponed or canceled, I felt that there is a need for us to contribute in our way, too. 

Ongoing Health of the Internet

With the changes in the daily life brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, even more people are relying on Internet connectivity to stay in touch with each other, work, learn, buy & sell, and maintain many aspects of their lives. ICT jobs are considered critical, just like those of doctors or street-cleaners or bus-drivers.

At the same time, network engineers and software developers need help in keeping the Internet infrastructure running. The RIPE NCC has a lot of Internet measurement data and is coordinating many community efforts. Hackathons are one of the ways to help decrease the negative effects of the crisis. 

By combining Internet-measurements data from RIPE Atlas, the RIPE Routing Information Service (RIS), DNS and others in new, creative ways, we can show the "health of the Internet" through visualisations, data analysis, interactive tools or portals.

This might help network operators to detect the needs for capacity changes, and other troubleshooting. It might also help non-technical users to understand the status of their Internet connection, in their country, region or city.

Open Data, Open-ended, On-line Hackathon  

Goals

As a Community Builder, my goal is to provide an opportunity for the RIPE Community and other communities to help each other, by coordinating efforts and exchange data, knowledge, tools, experiences, care. 

Practical goals are to

  • Organise an on-line hackathon
  • Keep it going until we decide to stop 
  • Use & combine Open Data
  • Create Open Source tools and contribute them back to the community 

Communication Channels

We have existing channels we can continue to use, for instance the following mailing lists:

Pre-existing collaborative infrastructure: 

  • Data repositories, API & Documentation [2, 3]
  • GitHub repository for the existing tools 
  • All reports are available on RIPE Labs
  • We will continue to announce the meetups & results on this page.

Still to be decided / to be agreed on collectively: 

  • Video-conferencing: Jitsy / Zoom / another? 
  • Chat client:  IRC / Slack / another?  
  • Project Management tool: Wiki / FramaSoft / FairApps.net / another?  
  • Initial EtherPad page for collaborative documenting (no log-in required, no new account creation needed) 

Time-frame

In order to find a balance between freedom & structure, inclusivity and commitment, creativity & clarity, I am suggesting to meet every Monday afternoon, to exchange updates and results, and make plans for the next week: 

 First meetup: Monday, 23 March, 2 PM UTC, Zoom 

Following meetings (note that in ome countries the summer time starts on 29 March):

  • Monday, 30 March, 1 PM UTC
  • Monday, 6 April, 1 PM UTC
  • Monday, 13 April, 1 PM UTC

After four weeks, we will review the results and the need for ongoing efforts. 

Provisional Project Phases 

  • Phase 1 - Coordination: collecting partners, participants, projects (weeks 1/n)
  • Phase 2 - Prototyping: working together, presenting work in progress to each other (weeks 2 till n-1)
  • Phase 3 - Progressing: reviewing the work and methodology, adjusting the plans (week 3 till n-1)
  • Phase 4 - Finalising (last week): wrapping up, writing the final report, planning the next stage (week n) 

Ideas for Projects

Here are some initial ideas that we could work on:

  • Analyse RIPE Atlas historical data and use the measurements to illustrate events of interest:
    • Unusual events, anomalies, patterns (for data-analysist)
    • Changes in network performance due to the changes in users' behaviour (Working From Home)
    • Shut-downs, censorship, blocks (for journalists & activists)
  • Create new large-scale measurements using RIPE Atlas and visualise the findings; come up with use cases that are of interest to you
  • Maintain & re-use existing projects from the previous RIPE NCC hackathons available on GitHub

A Very Different Hackathon 

This time, we are going to ignore ALL of the usual elements of the hackathon: 

  • Location: EVERYWHERE 
  • Venue: WHEREVER YOU ARE 
  • Date: ONGOING 
  • Time: UNLIMITED 
  • Host: Your Family (please thank them from us) 
  • Registration: OPEN 
  • Participants: ANYONE 
  • Budget: Limited only by the planetary limits 
  • Catering: Make Your Own Stroopwafels
  • Connectivity: truly distributed & decentralised 
  • Travel: forbidden, due to quarantine 
  • "Target" audience: experienced hackathons participants and brave newcomers ; existing teams welcome 

In short: we will all work remotely, but together: what unites us the same purpose and focus, and our choice to be in contact with each other, and to work on the common projects and platforms. 

Team-Work 

Hackathons are based on the collaboration: working together with others. The whole structure is meant to facilitate the sharing of work. To this end, there are several distinct roles needed: one person can fulfil multiple roles; and each role can be a team of people, or a single person:

  • Orga Team : communicators, community builders, connectors, logistics coordinators  
  • Participants : makers, maintainers, programers, writers, designers, engineers, users, testers
  • Facilitators , mentors, team leaders
  • Spokes people, presenters, document editors, publishers 

Since we are working in the extremely decentralised settings now, we have to rely on self-organised teams: every team is deciding for themselves who will take part, what project to work on, how to organise and plan their own work, who will be leaders and who spokespeople and who time-keepers, and how to present the final result.

Best Current Practices

  • Each team should have 3-7 members
  • Each team should have a clear purpose (a project or an area of responsibility, such as enabling the work of other teams) 
  • Each team should be as diverse as possible: various experiences, skills, backgrounds, ages, races, genders... Every participant should be tolerant and respectful of others, and protecting each others wellbeing (see RIPE Code of Conduct)
  • Each team should divide the roles internally based on the members goals & composition & strengths  
  • Suggestion: make a time-planning and a project-planning: phases, division of tasks, deliverables
  • It's nice if each team has a fun, catchy name :) 

Format of Results

  • At the end of each week, the goal for every team is to have a working prototype, documentation and presentation of results or an interactive demo so that other teams can learn from your work, and contribute during the following weeks
  • Aim to have a 5-minute presentation that covers the prtoblem statement, team members, what have you tried, what have you achieved, what are you struggling with, what do you need help with, and what is your plan for the following week
  • Upload all of your results (code, documentation, images, media...) to one of the public repositories 

Call for Actions

What

  • Decide what would you like to contribute & which roles you are interested in 
  • Introduce yourself to others
  • Join an existing team or start a new one

How

Call for Partners

If your organisation wants to join this hackathon in a more structural way than just volunteering some time and effort for coding and facilitation, please contact us at labs _at_ ripe _dot_ net 

Continuous Cooperative Creation Principles

  • Open Data, Open Knowledge, Open Source
  • Free  & Decentralised Communication Tools 
  • Spooning instead of Forking [4
  • Care for Oneself and for Each Other [5

Footnotes & Links

[1] Reference to the "Love in the Time of Cholera", novel by Gabriel García Márquez.

[2] The RIPE NCC has a wealth of data available, about Internet measurements:

  • Reachability : RIPE Atlas
  • Routed prefixes: RIS
  • IP-to-geolocation infrastructure mapping: IPmap
  • Portal & APIs for all of the above: RIPEstat
  • IXP-country-jedi

[3] RIPE Atlas data contains:

  • Real-time: 10.000 probes available to do DNS query, ping & traceroute
  • Ten years of traceroutes from 10.000 vantage points globally
  • Every four minutes, a ping measurement to every of the 13 root name-servers (and all of their any cast instances) 
  • 13-root-name-servers, from 10.000 probes, over IPv4 and IPv6, for ten years
  • NTP, SSL, IPv6 vs IPv4, HTTP (limited to RIPE Atlas anchors)

[4] Spooning 

[5] Self Care and Care for each Other

 

4 Comments

Alexander says:
21 Mar, 2020 10:26 AM
Could you create .ics calendar entry for calls?
Vesna Manojlovic says:
23 Mar, 2020 10:13 AM
Hi Alexander!

I'll try to create that - I am still learning all the features of Zoom...

For now, here's the invite:

becha@ripe.net is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Quarantine Hackathon: Internet Health Measurements
Time: Mar 23, 2020 03:00 PM Amsterdam
Join Zoom Meeting https://ripe.zoom.us/j/262815014
Meeting ID: 262 815 014
Vesna Manojlovic says:
01 Apr, 2020 10:23 AM
It's nice to receive praise :)

From Jason Livingood on Twitter

“SUPER COOL to see this come out of the RIPE Atlas Hackathon! This is the world's largest open Internet measurement platform with controlled endpoints (probes) in homes globally. They can't do speed tests but they can track stuff like LATENCY. Nice work!!👍👍 #COVID19 #RIPEAtlas

https://twitter.com/jlivingood/status/1245142990336688130
Vesna Manojlovic says:
02 Apr, 2020 12:39 PM
One more way to keep everyone updated!

On 30 March 2020, during our second call, we had five participants, who reported on the progress of their projects (* Several articles were published on https://labs.ripe.net/covid19 )

We informed each other on the plans for the next week:

* Improving the documentation of the Magma Guide
* Looking into delays due to lockdown, per country: Internet Health Report
* Adding OONI data to the Internet Health Report

If you would like to join: https://pad.riseup.net/p/ripe-ncc-corona-hackathon-keep

The next weekly video chat will take place on Monday, 6. April: 1PM UTC / 3PM CEST https://jitsi.hamburg.freifunk.net/WiseGeeseUniteCarefully
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