The Obama White House today continued its streak of technology firsts by announcing an administration-backed hackathon to coincide with Open Data Day. Developers are being tasked with testing and building something unique with Petitions 2.0, the next major phase of the White House's We The People initiative. When Petitions 2.0 is released "in the coming months," it will bring with it powerful new tools that let developers instantly tap into petitions on WhiteHouse.gov: signatures and official administration responses (like the one that killed dreams of a US-engineered Death Star) will be accessible via a Read API set for distribution in March. A Write API will follow sometime after that, letting third-party apps and websites gather / submit signatures without needing to steer users toward WhiteHouse.gov.
In the weeks ahead of the February 22nd meetup, devs will get an early peek at the Read API and, hopefully, "build something cool," according to Peter Welsch, who's deputy director of online platform for the administration's Office of Digital Strategy. Those lucky enough to catch the White House's attention will be among a "small group" invited to take part in the hackathon. It's all an effort to increase engagement around President Obama's petitions effort, a good idea since you'll now need more signatures to get an official administration response.