For the last several months I’ve been working at DemocracyLab, and I wanted to take some time to talk about it. I was just asked to write a one-sentence bio and answer ‘what drew you to DemocracyLab’ for the site, which made me step back for a moment and take stock of my time there so far … and of course, write far more than just one sentence!
In short: It’s been a very fulfilling time so far, and being able to help an existing product in the early stages really start to grow and present itself in a more and more refined and usable way is very satisfying.
A little history on the tech end, because it’s inevitable I’m going to talk about it: DemocracyLab was originally a WordPress/jQuery site and there are still pieces of that we’re bringing into the current site, which is a Django backend on top of a postgreSQL server, and the frontend is pretty much all React. I work in that most of the time though I’ve written some Python as well. The combination of a codebase I could start working in right away for a project I think has the potential to do some real good was too tempting to pass up. And so, I get to work in my area of expertise but also learn new things; Python and Django today, but who knows about tomorrow?
DemocracyLab’s mission is helping civic tech, or civic tech-for-good projects succeed. Not just nonprofits but any project of that type may need help from any number of volunteers with a wide range of skills – business planning, administrative skills, fundraising, developing, designing, and we try to help find ways to get volunteers from “I want to help,” to “I’ve found a project that speaks to me” to “I’m volunteering.” That speaks to me a lot – there’s a lot of friction in that process which is, from personal experience, more than there should be. I’ve worked in nonprofits previously and we all wanted to get the job done, but there were often a lot of skill gaps that were painful to close for one reason or another. DemocracyLab could serve to make that process a whole lot easier, and I’m glad to be contributing towards that future, if just a little.
Blog? Oh yeah, I have one. well I’ve got an excess of energy to burn today so I figured I should catch up real fast. Let’s do two things: What I’ve been doing and an article on accessibility from a source I never would have expected that I read just an hour or two ago while trying to distract myself from my own brain.
Continue reading Catching up and accessibility from EA?
After refactoring my cider site a while ago, the next step was making input a little easier. Sure, I could just write JSON by hand, but why do that when I could write a React app to help?
Continue reading Cider Form
Lorelei found a UI challenge site, DailyUI, and wanted to work on several of these with me – for her, practice using Sketch instead of InDesign. For me, an opportunity to learn some new tricks and work on developing a design made by a real designer! And, as it turned out, quite a bit about validating email addresses.
Continue reading UI Challenges
I subscribe to the CodePen Spark newsletter and a neat three.js pen caught my eye. I was just talking to someone who’s working with three, and figured it’d be a great opportunity to take a look myself.
Nat Cooper’s project walkthrough is from the monthly Creative Coding Club challenge, and I think it’s a really good example for several reasons. Continue reading Sugar, Sugar
Everyone uses Google Maps, and lots of people use React. You’d think a Maps in React app would be easy, right? I did. And I was surprised that the answer seemed to be no. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of examples out there, it’s finding one that I could make work in my preferred environment and in ES2015. Continue reading React Maps
What could be better to learn React than an featuring a fish from a 1991 videogame? Clearly, the answer is nothing. Okay, honestly, the actual purpose was writing a compact React application in ES2015 to teach myself both, but if you can do two things at once, you might as well, right? Continue reading React Fishtank
It’s been how long since I’ve written about one of these? Well. A quick recap of five neat things I’ve seen at Seattle meetups lately – Angular, React and state, React on the server, an innovative approach to finding available meeting space, and Meteor. Continue reading Meetup Roundup
Continue reading SeattleJS Meetup 10/2016
Code 301’s project load was a little different from 201 – rather than building out individual projects weekly, we kept the same project and extended and refactored the entire duration of the class.
That project was a portfolio website. If you feature a portfolio in your portfolio is it portfolios all the way down? Continue reading Code 301: Portfolio