“The most important office in a democracy is the office of citizen.” — President Barack Obama
Matt Scott may not call himself an expert in hacking, but he is certainly an expert in changemakers. In his unique role as Digital Storyteller for SecondMuse, a collaborative innovation company, Matt has the privilege of meeting and speaking with people who have found ways to address issues on every scale, from community concerns to worldwide problems.
SecondMuse collaborates with partners to accomplish set goals. In 2012, SecondMuse began partnering with NASA to create Space Apps, an international hackathon that occurs over 48 hours with participants all around the world. People from all walks of life, including coders, makers, and space enthusiasts alike, work together to face a wide array of challenges seen both on Earth and in space! It is a unique event designed to truly bring the world together to work toward a shared goal during the world’s largest hackathon.
While Mr. Scott still humbly believes he’s not a hacking expert, clearly he’s had his fair share of hacking experience thanks to SecondMuse and Space Apps. His true passion, though, is telling the stories of the changemakers who choose to participate in hackathons, as well as creating civic hacking ventures of their own.
“The people who are CEOs, founders, and changemakers…are really creating an impact because they decided they were going to do it and they did it.”
Matt truly believes that anyone, anywhere can — and should — create change through civic hacking, and that the average citizen need not be intimidated by the idea. He explains that hacking should feel very relatable. In reality, civic hacking is simply seeing a problem and figuring out how you can assist in creating the solution. That’s it!
In your own community, civic hacking can be as basic as making the choice to foster a solution yourself, rather than waiting on a local leader or placing the blame (and burden) elsewhere. This mindset places power back in the hands of the people, where more brains can be working on a solution, and unique perspectives can be heard. Civic hacking is real-time crowdsourcing, and has enormous potential to produce tangible results for communities.
Once one sees the simplicity and possibilities of civic hacking, it’s hard for them to not want to find a way to participate. Everyone has an issue that’s close to their heart, whether it’s their local homeless population, or something global like human trafficking. In some cases, you may be able to plug yourself in to an existing civic hacking infrastructure. In other cases, it may be up to you to get started and find others who are ready and willing to join your cause.
“A lot of people are changing our world for the better. We just need to be reminded that we can do that, too.”
As further evidence of Matt’s love for telling the stories of changemakers, he started the 180° of Impact project, which is a chance for Matt to highlight 180 different changemakers who decided to take matters into their own hands. These are normal people who saw a problem and realized that they had the power to do something with the help of technology and civic hacking.
“There’s a lot of diversity when it comes to changemakers, and I’m looking for any way to tell those stories.”
In Matt’s Civic Hacker Summit talk, he detailed what he’s learned through his work with SecondMuse, as well as his beliefs regarding how civic hacking should be viewed as a relatable and accessible way for average people to shape the future. Civic Hacker Network Members can access the full interview here and learn more about how you can become a civic hacker within your own community, or join a larger-scale initiative.
Lessons From the World's Largest Hackathon
In his Civic Hacker Summit interview, Matt discusses his work on the world’s largest hackathon, put on by NASA in partnership with SecondMuse. In his talk, he discusses the importance of civic hacking, as well as how to show people that civic hacking can be a useful tool for the average citizen to utilize in pursuing their goals for their community and the world.