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Harry McCarney, Managing Director at Hack & Craft, will be a coach at Startup Weekend Art London. Hack & Craft has built a wide range of innovative products for startups and aspirational corporates. As an engineer, Harry has built algorithms for investment banks, anti-fraud systems for dating companies and payment platforms for crowd-funding companies. He has also founded and invested in several startups including the first EU community crowd-funding site friendfund.com and Bradswine.com. Harry talks about his work at Hack & Craft and the future of art and technology.

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What is Hack & Craft? 

Hack & Craft helps entrepreneurs and companies innovate. We work at the cross roads of design, technology and product management to take ideas from ideation through to launch. This end-to-end approach allows us to work with a very broad range of technology in variety of sectors. What unites our work is the belief that small, feedback-driven iterations are the key to building disruptive products which solve real problems.

What are some of the most technologically innovative projects you’ve worked on recently?

This year we have built a music graph api for the San Francisco based startup Senzari.
The algorithms that run on the music graph are fast becoming the intelligence that powers some of the best known music recommendation services. We look at details like chord progressions, key, tempos, instrumentation and around 2k other data points to work out what music you like and send you more of it.

We are also working with Axel Springer to build some grass roots driven innovation for the publishing industry. This will be live by the end of of the year but I cannot say anything about it yet. Another project this year is an org visualization platform project for General Electric. This technology will allow organizations of global size to implement cross-functional teams whilst still tracking resources and project dependencies across multinational structures.

In your career to date, you have built a number of products for different industries, including the arts. How technologically developed is the arts industry in comparison to others? How can it catch up?

The arts seems to be a very traditional industry in which a few players are very well established. This means tech innovation whilst slow has the potential to be hugely disruptive. I think is fairly inevitable that this will happen.

How do you think technology will affect the art industry in the future?

I think we will see many niche SaaS B2B companies aimed at galleries and collectors. The less obvious developments will be on the consumer side. It is clear that technology and the Internet can democratize access to art just as they have to information and culture more generally,  but I am not sure what form this will take. In recent years, there have also been many examples of technology being used in the production and exhibition of art. Artists are selling youtube accounts, domains and single page javascript animations. HnC News, which is Hack and Craft’s round up of innovation and grass roots entrepreneurship, ran an interesting article on this here.  Augmented reality may also reduce the traditional role of the ‘gallery’ as place to consume art.

Any advice for entrepreneurs who want to disrupt the arts sector?

Personally I would focus on uses of technology that discover new art lovers and change the way art is consumed. Building a business which is dependent on partnerships with the traditional art industry is going to be very slow and difficult. If you can introduce new models, then the established names will come to you. Specifically, I think there will be room for an web-based market place for art made entirely of code.

Inspired? We look forward to seeing you at the Startup Weekend Art London in October!

Luba Elliott