Hack4ac recap - Ross Mounce
"Last Saturday I went to Hack4Ac – a hackday in London bringing together many sections of the academic community in pursuit of two goals:  To demonstrate the value of the CC-BY licence within academia. We are interested in supporting innovations around and on top of the literature.  To reach out to academics who are keen to learn or improve their programming skills to better their research. We’re especially interested in academics who have never coded before ... The list of attendees was stellar, cross-disciplinary (inc. Humanities) and international. The venue (Skills Matter) & organisation were also suitably first-class – lots of power leads, spare computer mice, projectors, whiteboards, good wi-fi, separate workspaces for the different self-assembled hack teams, tea, coffee & snacks all throughout the day to keep us going, prizes & promo swag for all participants… The principal organizers; Jason Hoyt (PeerJ, formerly at Mendeley) & Ian Mulvany (Head of Tech at eLife) thus deserve a BIG thank you for making all this happen. I hear this may also be turned into a fairly regular set of meetups too, which will be great for keeping up the momentum of innovation going on right now in academic publishing. The hack projects themselves… The overall winner of the day was ScienceGist as voted for by the attendees. All the projects were great in their own way considering we only had from ~10am to 5pm to get them in a presentable state. This project was initiated by Jure Triglav, building upon his previous experience with Tiris. This new project aims to provide an open platform for post-publication summaries (‘gists’) of research papers, providing shorter, more easily understandable summaries of the content of each paper. I also led a project under the catchy-title of Figures → Data where-by we tried to provide added-value by taking CC-BY bar charts and histograms from the literature and attempting to re-extract the numerical data from those plots with automated efforts using computer vision techniques. On my team for the day I had Peter Murray-Rust, Vincent Adam(of HackYourPhD) and Thomas Branch (Imperial College). This was handy because I know next to nothing aboutcomputer vision – I’m Your Typical Biologist ™ in that I know how to script in R, perl, bash and various other things, just enough to get by but not nearly enough to attempt something ambitious like this on my own! Forgive me the self-indulgence if I talk about this Figures → Data project more than I do the others but I thought it would be illuminative to discuss the whole process in detail… "