Going to ALA? Get Ready for the CODEX Hackathon

In News by Edward Nawotka

CODEX Hackathon

This weekend in San Francisco, the CODEX hackathon will tackle a variety of book-related innovation projects, including KINDLR, a dating app around books.

It’s about as close as the book world ever gets to hosting a sports event: a hackathon!

Press release follows:

Plympton, a San Francisco literary studio which innovates around digital publishing, today announced the CODEX Hackathon (codexhackathon.com) —  a three-day event to innovate on the future of reading, publishing, libraries and literary technology — on June 26-28, 2015 in San Francisco during the American Library Association Conference.

Over 100 participants are traveling in from all over the United States, in addition to Mexico, Great Britain and France. The sponsoring organizations include Macmillan, the New York Public Library, Macmillan, Dropbox, Wattpad, the Knight Foundation, GitHub among others.

Over $10,000 in stipends have been distributed to help defray travel costs for the mix of publishing and tech talent who are coming — including employees of the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington DC, Google, the One Story literary journal, Macmillan, IDEO, The New Yorker, Twitter, and Chronicle Books, as well as students from MIT and Stanford.

“We love the name CODEX  — not only because it is ‘Code X’ — but because the codex itself was an important publishing innovation,” said Jennifer 8. Lee, the CEO and cofounder of Plympton. “The bound book allowed for random access for the first time — as opposed to the scroll, which only allowed for linear access.”

The theme of CODEX is “connecting” — whether around books, readers, authors, or libraries. Ana Maria Allessi, VP of Digital Innovation at HarperCollins Publishers, who will attend the event, said “All of us who work with authors and books are interested in extending their reach – how do we use technology and design to connect more readers to more books? How do we better engage our loyal readers and attract new fans? I’m sure by the end of the hack we’ll have a better sense of how to solve those challenges.”

The weekend schedule includes:

  • An opening reception at Github headquarters featuring a Recovering the Classics pop-up gallery and musician Daniel Park.
  • A hackathon Saturday-Sunday at Code for America in the Soma neighborhood of San Francisco, with sponsors submitting ‘prompts’, presentations from  Stanford d. School, Kickstarter, and much more.

Many tools will be made available to developers for the first time. “We’ve opened up our Story Creation API so CODEX Hackathon participants can imagine new ways to tell and share stories,” said Wattpad’s head of platform and data, Jordan Christensen. “For the first time ever, we’ve granted access to our API so others can explore news ideas and approaches that will drive the future of reading and writing.”

Tools and data that will be released or made available for participants include:

  • Wattpad’s new beta API, not yet released. (Contact: Matthew Chan <matthew@wattpad.com>)
  • Shelfie’s Optical Character Recognition API where a client can upload an image of a shelfie and get back a list of ISBNs of the books  detected in the shelfie. (Contact: Marius Muja <marius.muja@bitlit.com>)
  • Zola’s book recommendation engine (Contact: Matt Goldfarb <matt.goldfarb@zolabooks.com>)
  • A selection of Publishers Weekly starred reviews and metadata
  • Short stories from Plympton’s DailyLit, four of which were noted in the Best American Short Stories of 2014 and One Story.
  • Pinterest’s new beta API, which requires approval to get access.
  • Cloudstitch.io, a Y Combinator company which allows control of a website with the ease of a spreadsheet.

(A more complete list of tools is available online).

Plympton is a San Francisco literary studio whose projects and collaborations have included Recovering the Classics, a book design project that now partners with the NYPL and the White House; the Twitter Fiction Festival; the Rooster mobile reading service; and the CODEX Hackathon.


About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.