Popathon Hack Jam

Storytelling meets Science on the Web

27-28 February 2015

University of Warwick

Storytelling in the age of the web

Popathon invites digital storytellers, technologists and designers to push the boundaries of storytelling by embracing the capability of the web. For one weekend you team up to brainstorm ideas, create open-source code and demo prototypes of your own web-native stories. This special edition of Popathon is presented in partnership with the Mediasmith Project and the University of Warwick.


Visual storytelling has been with us since the beginning of time. Through the ages the way we tell stories has changed along with the evolution of the media we use to express ourselves. The capability of the web enables stories to be interactive, dynamic and participatory, allowing for engaging experiences around them. While this is hugely exciting, we believe a language of web-native storytelling is still developing and want to help that process along by hands-on collaboration.

Academic research is a form of storytelling with diverse impacts on society. Engaging the public is vital to the research process and enhances the quality as well as societal significance. For this special edition we invite you to explore how the web can open up research to go beyond the text and reach new audiences in novel ways.


During the weekend teams compete against the clock, not against each other. By sharing ideas at an early stage, teams help each other to tackle challenges in the creative process. We encourage bringing ideas and content for projects you have in mind or in production. After the final sprint all prototypes are presented in a live demo and all the source code powering the projects will be made available open source for others to study and build on beyond the event.

Explore projects hacked at previous editions here

Web-native Storytellers

Who should join us at this event?

Teams thrive when different skills are combined.

Popathon invites 3 specialities to the mix, each with their own perspective, ideas for projects and reasons for taking part. We believe disciplines like storytelling, web development and design already offer the most important skills required to tell engaging stories on the web. By having different perspectives around the table, we share our expertise and everyone benefits.


Digital Storytellers

Are you an academic researcher, creative writer, photographer, filmmaker, content creator or communications professional with a story to tell? Come and participate in Popathon to:

  • Explore how your storytelling can become dynamic and interactive
  • Brainstorm and prototype new ideas for a new medium
  • Meet & collaborate with designers and developers


Are you a developer, creative coder or computer scientist interested in experimenting with new projects on the web? The protoypes will be mainly powered by JavaScript, HTML and CSS, but experience with back-end, data visualisation or a toolkit like Processing or Unity can make your creation really stand out.

  • Experiment with new libraries and frameworks in an informal setting
  • Create a visually-rich interactive multimedia project
  • Meet & collaborate with designers and filmmakers


Are you a designer or graphic artist interested in all things digital? Web-native stories can combine moving image and interactivity but they need well-designed experience to really come to life. Ideas from UX, UI, interaction, graphic, print and service design is all welcome and useful. Join Popathon to:

  • Design the future of storytelling on the web.
  • Tackle questions like: what does an interactive film look like?
  • Meet & collaborate with filmmakers and developers


Friday 27 February 18.00 - 22.00

Saturday 28 February 10.00 - 20.00


University of Warwick

Room G50, ground floor

Millburn House

Millburn Hill Road

Coventry CV7 4HS

Downloadable map

Millburn House is No. 43.


  • You can sign up individually or with a team of collaborators
  • We've also got Student tickets at a discounted rate.
  • Bring whatever you'll need to hack with. Charged laptops with production software and external drives with footage or have everything online. Also bring headphones, as you'll be working in a shared space.
  • Nourishing lunch, delicious snacks and WiFi access will all be provided.
  • To make sure we've got a good mixture of skills, tickets are released in equal sized batches for each type (storytellers, technologists, designers). This means that a ticket type, say designers, may be temporaraly sold out until we've got an equal number of storytellers and technologists signed up. Don't worry, you can sign up on the waiting list and you'll be notified as soon as we release more tickets.







Final sprint


Team Formation
Wireframe presentations
Final prototype presentations

About the organisers


Philo van Kemenade

Philo van Kemenade combines video, data and the web to make storytelling more engaging and have it reach wider audiences. His expertise in Artificial Intelligence and passion for filmmaking brought him to London, where he researched data-driven storytelling using user-generated online video as its building blocks. He believes we are currently lacking an interactive storytelling language that fits the nature of the web and feels multidisciplinary experimentation is the way forward.


Gilles Pradeau

Gilles Pradeau explores participatory documentary focusing on democratic innovations and public spending in Europe. The first chapter of “Learning to count” uses a 360º camera to record teenagers negotiating the budget for their high school. Before making his own films, Gilles provided consultancy and workshops for public engagement and worked in Paris for a mobile film festival.

the Mediasmith Project

The Mediasmith Project

The Mediasmith Project is an academic fellowship funded by the Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning at the University of Warwick led by Ruth Leary at the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies exploring transmedia storytelling as a research method. The Mediasmith Project has so far hosted a series of workshops on filmmaking and digital storytelling, analytics tools and data visualisation and collaborative approaches to digital content creation facilitated by filmmakers, producers and creative technologists. We hope that the Popathon will take this learning one step further, widening the opportunity for interdisciplinary collaboration and storytelling on the web.


"Popathon was a great experience, highly recommend it to anyone working on a web doc"

- Paulina Tervo | Filmmaker | www.visitawraamba.com

“I thought it was great. It was a good combination of people, there were some great filmmakers with some great material and some good developers and we were all inspired by each other.”
- Mark Boas | Front-end Web Developer | co-creator of jPlayer and Hyperaud.io
“Something like today is really important in terms of bringing people together across these different skillsets and bringing them into an easy conversation”
- Mandy Rose | Director Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of the West of England

In partnership with

Warwick Logo
Mediasmith Logo
Popathon Logo
Github Logo

Any questions?

Get in touch!