Hacks & Hackers, or, as it is unpronounceably and unparsably written, hackshackers, is one of those fun emergent online clubs, in this case uniting journos and programmers. I credit the adorable Jenny 8 Lee, a girl so smart she took the Times’s buyout offer while still in her 20s, for giving H&H whatever profile it has.

Last night we had a mixer for the Toronto chapter, whose very existence surprised and delighted me no end. It’s a great idea: Journos who think a computer is a machine that runs MS Word gain skills from programmers who can’t write their way out of a paper bag. And, quite possibly, vice-versa.

Our first mixer should be our last, as last night’s soirée hewed to the pattern of all Toronto media events: Sinecurists eventually get tired of pretending to care about people they don’t already know or work with or have worked with or for and congregate in impenetrable knots. (Which perfectly nice and reasonable communities editor of which recently-redesigned paper politely excused herself the instant she noticed the arrival of that freelance columnist for said paper?) If you want to cling tightly to people in your own social circle – hacks with day jobs – do it somewhere else. We’ve got work to do here.

Additionally, I was not expecting Craig Silverman’s eyebrow stud, large chest, or alpha-like bonhomie. Though that shirt needs tucking in. By whom is, I suppose, the question.

Topics on which I am more than happy to present

Just me, though. These aren’t transferable ideas and they aren’t open-source. (I was given a minilecture last night, here in my 20th year online, on how wonderful it is to give away ideas. What goes around comes around, I was essentially told. Sorry, but expertise is personal; it isn’t “a marketplace of ideas.”)

  • For hacks only: Becoming functional in Unicode
  • Just enough semantic markup to keep you out of trouble
  • Guided tour of the Hacks & Hackers glossary (which simply does not work as the endless printed document it is)
  • Things you didn’t know you could do with a browser
  • Unfucking your PDFs
  • Turning an InDesign layout into a real Web page

Note that these are not related to what I would call classical database journalism of the sort pioneered by Holovaty or Willison, both of whom I’ve met. This is to be expected, as I am not a programmer. I can think of a few more ideas, though, like what RSS is and does and explaining the technical underpinnings behind something like Flipboard. But let’s start small, shall we?

There was also a call for suggested meeting locations. Surely there are enough media outlets reasonably downtown with boardrooms we could borrow. Or those outlets could pony up a hundred bucks twice a year to rent a reasonable room. Or ten sinecurists could PayPal ten bucks each. The idea that anything should be delayed while somebody half-assedly hunts around for free meeting space is ridiculous for this clientele.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.10.22 13:14. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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