I Hacked John Green’s Web site

Well, not really, but kind of. If you’ve ever read Paper Towns, you might catch a few things in the above screenshot that don’t seem quite right. Did Margo and Q REALLY switch places-and he becomes the enigma and she the one to follow his clues? Did Paper Towns REALLY debut as #1 on the NY Times Bestseller list AND appear on Oprah? In my world it did but I’ll share a secret. I put on my X-Ray Goggles and they helped me see John Green’s site in a whole new light. (John can thank me later of course for not sharing EVERYTHING I saw)

Okay, joking aside, YALSA shared these online tools early this morning at the Midwinter Hack Jam. Jack Martin, YALSA President-Elect, said that Hackasaurus started as a project about two years ago with the New York Public Library, YOUmedia with Chicago Public Library, Hive Learning Network NYC, the MacArthur Foundation, and Mozilla.

Teen Tech Week is an obvious fit for introducing this at your library, but introducing digital literacy concepts and content creation span year round for both school and public libraries where this could be easily implemented.

When we hear the word ‘hack’ we might understandably feel a bit nervous as it can have connotations of going against the rules, being dangerious or worse case scenario even be something illegal. There have been previous discussions on this blog in regards to hacking and how it can be considered as a library program.

Jess Klein, Design and Learning Lead of Hackasaurus, with Mozilla, gave an overview and explanation of what hacking is, particularly in relation to this project. It lets youth do the following to the web:

  • explore
  • remix
  • redesign

Nothing illegal there. In fact, because of how the web is built (those pages that use html), it encourages participation and to reshape it to make it more personal and meaningful.

Back to the X-Ray Goggles. Once the goggles are installed and downloaded on your computer (is browser based and works with Firefox, Chrome and Safari), teens will be able to see through the surface of a web page. Html tags for images can be shown and easily replaced with another image, background colors, text (think newspaper headlines), and more can be altered. While the change is local (i.e. on your computer), a URL can be generated to then ‘publish’ the work or share with friends the changes made. Think of how empowering this can be for teens to literally shape their own world on the web.

Hackasaurus comes with a Hacktivity kit where suggestions for lesson plans, information on running a hack jam, and learning goals are included.

Hacking isn’t just for the web. This photo shows participants (including amazing teens from the Dallas Public Library) hacking the robot dance in order to have some fun (at 8am!) and to have a better understanding what hacking is. Details on hacking the robot dance are provided in the Hacktivity kit. It was hard not to notice that some YALSA members (especially Jack) have some great robot moves!

Have fun and happy hacking! Feel free to share how this has worked out with your teens at your libraries.

P.S. John Green will be at the Dallas Public Library tonight as part of the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Annual Banned Author Event and Fundraiser.

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.
Bookmark the permalink.

One Comment

  1. Oh. my. gosh. Tooo fun! Thanks for sharing this!

Comments are closed