Ignite Baltimore 12: civic hacking takes center stage. Also: bull sperm. [VIDEO] - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Apr. 15, 2013 8:30 am

Ignite Baltimore 12: civic hacking takes center stage. Also: bull sperm. [VIDEO]

The announcement of Hack Baltimore was a major triumph of Ignite Baltimore 12, held March 28, along with other presentations that celebrated the complexity of the fourth dimension and imagined Scottish singer Susan Boyle describing East Baltimore as "jolly good."

Mingling during intermission at Ignite Baltimore. Photo credit: John Davis.

The announcement of Hack Baltimore was a major triumph of Ignite Baltimore 12, held March 28, along with other presentations that celebrated the complexity of the fourth dimension and imagined Scottish singer Susan Boyle describing East Baltimore as “jolly good.”

It was the third time Ignite Baltimore was held at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and 393 people were in attendance, according to event co-organizers Mike Subelsky, Kate Bladow and Neal Shaffer.

If you’re unfamiliar with Ignite, it goes like this: 16 different speakers are given five minutes each to talk about one topic. Each speaker is armed with just 15 slides that jump forward automatically every 15 seconds. And while not every speaker need talk about Baltimore, their love of or ideas for improving it, a good many speakers do so anyway.

Those who packed into the Brown Center at MICA learned about the old Hampden, a white, working-class neighborhood of mill workers who walked along 36th Street before the hipsters arrived. They learned of the wonders of algae, and how we humans are doing it all wrong by asking corn to be the new oil. They learned how a busted enforcement system for child support is doing more to perpetuate the drug trade than pull children’s fathers from the damaging influences of what’s intended to be a former life.

Technically Baltimore’s compadre to the north, Technically Philly, summed up the effects of Ignite events nicely: they connect people.

We have some unofficial awards to give out to several of the speakers. For the full list of speakers, click here. We know we’ve missed other great speakers from the night, so suggest your own awards in the comments below.

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NO MAN COULD LOVE BULL SPERM AS MUCH AS . . . 

Garrett Bladow, self-proclaimed “digital cowboy.” Bladow (husband of Ignite co-organizer Kate) is originally from North Dakota, where cows outnumber people two-to-one, he says. He’s a two-time National Livestock Judging Champion, and he knows lots of things about “scrotal circumference” and … Scrotal. Circumference.

The tl;dr version: his father’s family farm was in trouble, so he convinced his father to stop selling cow meat and start marketing bull sperm. For that, you’ll need the “ElectroJac6.” Note to EVERYONE: just STOP with the Shake Weight jokes.

BEST ADAPTATION OF THE CONFUSION RAMPANT IN THE MOVIE “INCEPTION” FOR WHAT WE THINK MIGHT BE A PRACTICAL PURPOSE

We found ourselves incredulous of Raymond Cole when he began speaking about a “reptilian menace” controlling or overseeing planet Earth, even living among us humans. Basically, per Cole: extraterrestrial life is on this planet, and it plays a major part in real-world events.

Still, this all feels a little too “Men in Black” like, as if the National Enquirer was the publication we all should have been reading all along. Right? Right? It’s like a taco, inside a taco, within a Taco Bell, that’s inside a KFC, within a mall, that’s INSIDE YOUR BRAIN.

I’M THE MAP, I’M THE MAP, I’M THE MAP, I’M THE MAP

Maps are more than just the subject of an annoying “Dora the Explorer” song. They’re really an effective way to measure social change. Techies know this well, and organizations around town like the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance use maps to great effect. Payal Patnaik, who was part of the MRLN mapping team at this month’s Reinvent Transit hackathon, hit home that maps are convenient yet data-rich ways for activists to visually measure how policies are working, and for that we applaud her.

THE HACK ATTACK IS BACK, JACK

City CIO Chris Tonjes and gb.tc‘s self-titled “chief instigator” Jason Hardebeck teamed up for the announcement of Hack Baltimore, a series of civic hacking challenges. Read Technically Baltimore’s coverage here on the announcement of the first challenge: hacking our way to better public parks.

Chris Tonjes, left, with Jason Hardebeck.

Chris Tonjes, left, with Jason Hardebeck.

WE DON’T NEED NO (BUBBLE-TEST) EDUCATION

Bobbi Macdonald closed out the evening with a talk focused on the “beautiful evidence” of learning in our schools: the children teachers see every day. It’s time to do away with an industrial model of education, she argued, with bells signaling class changes, rote memorization and incessant drilling of students to ensure high marks on a state-mandated examination.

Macdonald would know: she’s the executive director of the City Neighbors Foundation, which runs three charter schools in Baltimore city. “Standardized testing does not measure the ability to think creatively,” she said. “These children can’t be standardized.”

Watch all the videos from Ignite Baltimore 12 here. View all the photos of the evening here.

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