Tech By the People, For the People
You’re hanging out on the new Big Heavy World web site. If you’re new here, welcome to it! The heavy lifting at Big Heavy World is done by volunteers and community support, and that includes this new gateway to Vermont’s music community. Here’s an overview of what went into making the new site real.
Vermont Music for All…
Our previous site was entirely custom programmed and was a design leader for a while. But internet publishing standards and new technologies emerged that made the code outdated and limited the site’s usefulness. Big Heavy World has a tradition of using emerging technologies to promote original Vermont music in new ways that give it a bigger audience; we were an original online broadcaster in the mid-1990s and worked with many prominent tech partners as the internet gained notice by the public during its booming coming-out decade.
The new site is a current version of that energy – we’ve made it mobile responsive, meaning it will look and work great on a mobile phone or tablet, too. Our next steps will be to make sure that computers can read the site navigation aloud without any friction, so people who rely on a voice interface can access Vermont-made music as easily as anyone. The information we gather and publish about the music industry in Vermont, and the people who make the music, will continue to grow and get better and we’ll always be building and improving the responsive apps that you’ll notice are starting to appear here.
The Code for America Brigade
We aren’t having any fun if we aren’t doing what we do with a lot of friends. Pulling the new site together started with making a whole lot of new ones: with our friends at Found Line we co-founded a local Code for America brigade of civic hackers called Code for BTV (BTV is the airport code for Burlington, VT) and launched it with a hackathon in June, 2013. More than 50 volunteer programmers showed up to work on projects that ranged from making government data transparent to repurposing open source applications for local use. The rebuilding of Big Heavy World began here, with volunteer hackers kicking it off with a new live music venue app and public forum.
On October 12, 2013, volunteer Nathan Haskins won third place in MyWebGrocer.com’s HackVT hackathon, building a new app that lets visitors to the site hear the Vermont Music Library archive of Vermont-made recordings gathered by Big Heavy World over the last two decades.
Code for BTV continued to gather volunteer programmers together at monthly meetups, and hosted its second major hackathon at the Fletcher Free Library on October 26 & 27, 2013, called ‘Hack the Stacks.’ Big Heavy World’s site building rolled forward, with improvements to Nate’s new Vermont Music Library app.
Thank You, Google!
Meanwhile, Big Heavy World received a truly generous and desperately needed gift from Google: New servers, workstations, and laptops that are helping us build a respectable home for our new web site and all the live and recorded streaming media related to it.
Then, The Civic Cloud
We also co-founded a community project to share our mind-blowing new servers with other nonprofit organizations in the Burlington area: The Civic Cloud. Working with CCTV Center for Media & Democracy, Channel 17 / Town Meeting Television, Found Line, Laboratory B, Regional Educational Technology Network (RETN), Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM), and our Code for BTV volunteers, we’re partnering to co-locate the servers and light up technology that wouldn’t come close to being accessible without this massive cooperative effort. And the new Big Heavy World web site will be at its heart. The Civic Cloud will showcase gigabit applications, helping the City of Burlington be a part of U.S. Ignite, a national campaign by a partnership of big companies helping to spur the creation of applications that will drive investments in advanced broadband infrastructure like our local Burlington Telecom.
These businesses and organizations have contributed to rebuilding the Big Heavy World web site directly or through their support of Code for BTV and our hackathons:
Google Community Grants Fund of Tides Foundation
Vermont Community Foundation
Code for America
Vermont Arts Council
National Endowment for the Arts
Small Dog Electronics
Propeller Media Works
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters
Amazon Web Services
CCTV Center for Media & Democracy
Front Porch Forum
Fletcher Free Library
City of Burlington, VT, Mayor’s Office
Vermont Resilience Lab
Friends of the Fletcher Free Library
Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, Church Street, Burlington
The Volunteer Programmers, Civic Hackers, and WordPress Crew:
This is the crew that built the new bigheavyworld.com, putting their sweat and luv into it: