Wall Street Journal Will Gather Programmers for a Hackathon

Well, The Wall Street Journal isn’t calling it a hackathon, per se, but that’s what it sounds like.

During April 13-15 at New York University, the publication is holding its first Data Transparency Weekend, an outgrowth of the Journal’s ‘What They Know‘ investigative series. The event will gather about 100 programmers who will form teams to work on free Web tools that promote data transparency. At the end of the weekend, the best tools will be publicly recognized.

Sounds like a hackathon to us.

But whatever it’s called, we think it’s a pretty cool initiative from the paper.

The event will be led by WSJ senior technology editor Julia Angwin, who directs the  ‘What They Know’ team. The weekend will be divided into three main tracks: Scanning, Education and Control. Scanning will focus on enhancing technology that scans the Web to reveal tracking; Education will concentrate on how to help people see how much information they share; and Control will focus on improving software that helps people control sensitive information.

Speakers, who will also serve as judges, will include Alessandro Acquisti, professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Sid Stamm, Web security and privacy strategist at Mozilla; and independent security researcher Dan Kaminsky. Closing remarks and prizes will be delivered by Daniel Weitzner, deputy chief technology officer for Internet policy at the White House.

“Our research for ‘What They Know’ shows that people underestimate the amount of personal data being shared about them online,” said Raju Narisetti, managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Digital Network. “We are excited about helping developers build tools that could eventually help readers understand what is happening.”

No amateurs allowed though. The event is only open to qualified participants – those with engineering, product-development or technical research backgrounds. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and will be accepted until the event is full.