Socrata-thalon Prep (and Trash Talk) Begins

December 13, 2012 6:44 pm PST | Data Rockstars

Tomorrow afternoon, Socrata’s employees will compete in the first-ever, relay-style Socrata Platform Challenge. As much as we take pride in our open data portals, API-making machines and other nifty products, not all of us (ahem . . . a certain marketing gal composing this post) know how those thingamajiggers work. 

The event comes from the fun-loving and creative mind of engineering project manager Lilia Gutnik. “Everyone’s busy and everyone has a lot of responsibility around the company. Our product is so broad, the ins and outs and nooks and crannies, and I just wanted to motivate people to experience what our customers experience everyday,” says Gutnik.

Socrata-thalon Training
Dev team member John peeks over his laptop as Clare and Anna train on the platform.

How It Works

Each team is captained by a company leader, who is not on the dev team. Captain Cam Caldwell is our director of client services, Captain Saf Rabah is our VP of marketing and Captain Joel Baller is our VP of public sector. 

Diversifying the rosters further, each team has one person from sales, one from marketing or emerging markets, and one person from client services, for a total of three people plus a captain. There will be three challenges, one for each person on the team, and the challenges are expected to take five minutes. Challenges fall into three categories:

1. Import / Create / Append / Publish Workflow

2. Visualize, e.g. filtering, charting, maps

3. Querying / APIs

Once a team member has spent 10 minutes on a challenge they are gonged. Times up. Too bad, so sad.

But, there’s reason for hope thanks to helpful people hanging out on the sidelines. The team can get help from a non-engineer / extra team member on every challenge. Or, they can request an engineer’s help on one challenge. 

Lilia even hosted a pre-event training session. 

Big Talk Before the Big Day

Trash talk can be heard around the office. 

“I’m feeling strong to very strong about our chances,” say Team Vanagan captain Cam.

His tough-guy competitor, Joel, says, “I don’t know why anyone else is talking about winning. Our team is stacked.”

“I’ve got Chris Metcalf on my team. He’s the father of the Matrix. That’s all I have to say,” says Captain Saf.

Bryant, one of the sure-to-bring-the-skillz members of Baller’s team, responded to a question about his feelings by saying, “Pumped. I’m eating my Wheaties tomorrow morning. It’s gonna be awesome.”

We’ll follow up with the results of the event. For now, the competitors will be stretching, studying and practicing mind-focus exercises. Wish them luck.  

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