Feasting on Data

dafeastA year ago I heard about a little hackathon being held in the middle of a high-powered social good conference called The Feast. Hackers who signed up got full access to the conference and its many perks. It sounded like a good deal to me, so I signed up.

The challenge of The Feast hackathon is building things with data. At the time I was just coming to terms with the gap between the possibilities of data and the reality. Participating helped me articulate everything that bothered me with the current data infrastructure. Instead of doing a traditional hackathon demo, I ended up using my time on the main conference stage giving a mini lesson in why hackathon ideas never become real life solutions (and also, a tutorial on brute force hacking for newbies)

(my part starts at 7:44)

A big target for me in that speech was The Khan Academy‘s API, which gives you full access to all the Khan Academy’s educational resources … with one catch.

There’s no good way to search for content. So in order to get what you need, you have to know exactly what you need and the exactly where it is. Oh sure, there’s a topic tree, but you can’t query it. So in order to get that information you have to download and parse the entire json file … all 30MBs of it.

This year Exversion¬†was approached by The Feast to provide data for the hackathon, so I set about fixing the Khan Academy problem. It took me some time to figure out how best to untangle a tree when each branch was an infinite number of levels deep, but once I did I was able to produce a query-able directory of The Khan Academy’s content. Why should you have to sort through all the economics content when what you want is videos on basic addition? Now you can grab your Exversion API key and do this:

https://exversion.com/api/v1/dataset/3QC5N5HXIGSJK3Z?key=xxx&title=addition

You can even use complex queries to search the videos themselves, Check out our API documentation for more details.

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