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Hackathon: The Popularity And Impact Of This Tech Community Builder

"Some of our most-loved products started at hackathons."


15 March 2018, Danielle de La Bastide

Freespee recently held an internal hackathon in the spirit of collaborative computer programming, the event took place in Uppsala, Sweden and was a resounding success. In that vein, we wanted to delve further into the growing popularity of hackathons and their impact on our digital world.

What is a Hackathon?

Hackathons or codefests are collectives where experts and students in technology and business development cooperate to solve a problem in multiple ways, all while working with developers from around the world or within their own company. The event has become so popular that even the Vatican held their own 36-hour hackathon this year. Called VHacks, the goal was to bring together 120 students from 30 countries to “address issues of social inclusion, interfaith dialogue and the challenges facing migrants and refugees,” according to Vatican News.
While the term “hack” has negative connotations due to its association with breaching security systems, in the hackathon world, it comes with no malicious intent and merely means to reprogram a system for more useful endeavours cleverly. It’s about exploring within legal parameters — not trespassing.
The benefits of hackathon are multitudinous; it creates an opportunity for developers to build technology over a set period while absorbing multiple perspectives. It also helps build a bridge to the developer community. According to Hackworks, “For companies whose competencies lie in providing technology solutions, hackathons help establish two-way conversations between those that develop the technology (APIs, APKs, data sets, etc.) and the people that use them.”
They are also great indicators of where the industry is focusing their energy the most, right now one of the most popular topics in the hackathon sphere is Artificial Intelligence. One upcoming hackathon taking place in Vancouver this month is looking at prototyping technology for use on a “new earth.”

Freespee’s Hackathon

At Freespee, “we split into three teams of 6 – each composed of Front End, Back End, Ops, Product, and Design – we set out to solve a real-world problem on the blockchain,” said Freespee Senior Product Manager and Hackathon organiser Heather Baden.
The teams each developed highly effective programs, apps and more to alleviate problems with temperature, workplace morale and missing keys – all using Bitcoins lauded inventory system, the blockchain.


The successful team received prizes and created a program that could make daily life a whole lot easier.

Famous Hackathon Creations

Hackathons have been in existence for nearly 20 years, starting in 1999 when the term was first coined at an OpenBSD event in California. Since then, these tech community bonding get-togethers have produced some well-known products and apps that we all know and use frequently. Pedram Keyani, former director of engineering at Facebook wrote in a blog post in 2012 that many Facebook features came from hackathons. “Some of our most-loved products started at hackathons, got props at prototype forum, and made it to your computers and phones, including Video, the Like button, Chat, Hip-hop for PHP, and even Timeline,” he stated.


 
Hackathon events are only growing in number each year, with thousands taking place in countries like the United States, the UK, and Australia. All with the aim of enhancing and accelerating the systems we use every day.
Via: Vatican News, Hackworks, Facebook. 

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