Civic News
Pittsburgh / Technology

Curious about Pittsburgh’s tech scene? This newsletter is for you

Open Data PGH is our new editorial project covering civic tech at the other end of the state. Here's how to keep up.

Editor’s note: Every week, publishes a weekly email newsletter on Pittsburgh’s civic tech community as part of our new Open Data PGH seriesBelow is this week’s edition. Sign up for the newsletter by clicking here. Thanks!

This week in Open Data PGH

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh outreach librarian Tess Wilson takes the writerly reins this week with a thoughtful essay on librarians’ role in the civic tech movement:

  • Wilson writes that she really understood “the crux” of what, exactly, libraries have to do with this type of tech when leading a Civic Data Zine Camp alongside The Labs @ CLP last summer, where teens examined an issue by employing open data and civic information resources and turned those learnings into zines.
  • This smart thing: “When I talk about open data, I talk about opportunity and agency — the opportunity to investigate and the agency to disrupt. And this becomes especially vital when we consider who the public library serves.”
Read the full story

Think about this: Seeing Pittsburgh from different angles

Alexa Marzina wrote a blog post about starting a new internship at the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center and assisting with a data mapping class on her first day. She discovered there were markers and stickers involved, which helped assuage some of her anxiety, and gained this takeaway from the class: Data mapping in Pittsburgh is not boring.

Also, a new sightseeing tour on Pittsburgh’s rivers will provide insights into the region’s tech contributions. Proceeds from the “PGH 101: An Intro to Innovation” tour, by the Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp., will underwrite STEM programs for Pittsburgh-area students.

In the 412

Tech news from around the city:

Cool thing of the week: Duolingo and the “Something Like Home” film

Company leaders at East-Liberty based language app Duolingo were puzzled by its data showing that the top languages learned in several countries was the country’s own — Norwegian in Norway, Swedish in Sweden, for instance. The top language studied in southern Florida was English.

They dug deeper into the data and found the numbers were due to refugees learning the language of their new home countries: “It’s not just the data that tells stories, it’s the people,” said Duolingo designer Jack Morgan.

Pittsburgh photojournalist Justin Merriman directed and shot the footage for “Something Like Home,” a film documenting the journeys of several Syrian refugees who uses Duolingo to help learn new languages. One of the refugees in the film, a woman named Noor, was present at the Pittsburgh screening of the film last week (her last name was withheld for her protection).

Go to this

Social Venture Partners holds its 2018 Full Circle Impact Accelerator pitch event from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on June 28. Five nonprofits from SVP’s accelerator cohort — Assemble, All Star Code Pittsburgh, Northern Area Multi-Service Center Refugee Resettlement, Pennsylvania Youth Initiative and the Veterans Breakfast Club — will make presentations showing the positive changes their organizations are having in the Pittsburgh area. Tickets and details for the event are here.

Some other upcoming civic tech-focused events for you to check out:

And other tech events:

Find your next gig

Hiring? Let us know and we’ll spread the word here:

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This newsletter is a pilot alongside our joint reporting project with PublicSource on open data trends in Pittsburgh that’s supported by Heinz Endowments. Help us shape it: Respond directly to this email with your ideas, stories we should be reading or comments on our coverage.

Until next week,

Julie Zeglen, Open Data PGH project editor + Kim Lyons, Open Data PGH reporter

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