Michelle Ferrier, the Associate Dean for Innovation, Research/Creative Activity and Graduate Studies in Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication, recently won a top hackathon prize with her team.
The Hackathon followed a summit on women news entrepreneurs and the challenges that women face in the news. The mission was to hack the problems that women in news face.
After laboring for a full day, almost nonstop, the group was between ideas. It was either troll busting or a virtual business accelerator. The virtual business accelerator would provide services to business founders that could not travel to a new location where accelerator services are available. This virtual accelerator was designed to give education and support to businesses in any community.
After a precious hour of discussion, the idea that won out was troll busting. This issue is one that affects women directly and across the board, particularly women in the public eye such as women news entrepreneurs. The internet trolls work to shut down both women’s voices and services online.
The diversity of the team highlighted the importance of the troll busting project. The issue of women being silenced is pervasive all over the world. The troll buster program can transcend cultural boundaries.
The idea had three levels of service
- A URL for when you are under attack. It will send an SOS message to followers to come “send love” to the people under attack on the news site. This allows supporters to flood the feed with positivity to overwrite the trolls’ attacks.
- The SWOT team approach is the second step. The goal would be to identify troll nests. This can be done through natural language processing to find the community of people using hate messages so that SOS messages can direct people to those feeds.
- The last level directs women to other resources online such as the legal and psychological services that may help to combat trolls and ways to find solutions to the problems.
Judges from companies like Google and the International Women’s Foundation judged the 9 teams that pitched the ideas in New York. Michelle’s team won one of the top prizes of $3000.
Three of the five original team members are continuing with the project. The next steps are structuring the project so that it is accessible to everyone and raises awareness and support. They will start crowd sourcing soon to raise money for this noble project.
Why should you participate in a Hackathon?
It’s emotional. You go through all of the emotions of being a startup in a very condensed amount of time. It is a very real way of experiencing what it means to take an idea from start to finish. It is a very powerful experience.
Another experience that is very beneficial is Startup Weekend. Check it out.