Meet Ad Hawk, or the Little Hackathon Project That Could.
It started at last year’s Random Hacks of Kindness Philly, got picked up and launched by the Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog organization The Sunlight Foundation and just last week, it was named Gizmodo’s App of the Day.
Ad Hawk is a mobile app that can identify political ads, telling you who (or what) is behind them. It’s a Philly-born project through and through, says its creator Bob Lannon.
It started as an idea at a Hacks/Hackers Meetup and was later developed at Random Hacks of Kindness by a team that included Hacks/Hackers organizer Erika Owens, software engineer Pam Selle, programmer Jake Richter, Reuters mobile developer Jim Snavely and Lannon himself. Back then, the tool went by the name Cuibono and won Best Concept at the hackathon.
Lannon pitched the project to a few organizations because the team knew it couldn’t survive as a side project. The team was actually willing to give the project away, he says, adding that it was all posted on github.
Instead, Lannon was able to find the project a home at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that implements technology focused on government transparency, and he left his job as an analyst at a medical marketing research firm in the suburbs to work on the project full time.
Below, a video made by the Sunlight Foundation about Ad Hawk.
He says he hopes to continue his work on Sunlight Foundation projects.
Lannon, who grew up in Havertown and lives in West Philly, works remotely and travels to Washington, D.C., where the Sunlight Foundation is headquartered, once a week. He says he can’t comment on a possible move down south, except to say that Philly is his home and he’ll live here as long as he can.