Hackathons are exploding. An event previously reserved for a niche audience, the hackathon has proliferated into mainstream culture, represented in everything from David Fincher films, to the pages of the New York Times. But not unlike the latest breed of disruptive startups coming out of Silicon Valley, hacker culture continues to exist largely in geographic silos, as if San Francisco and New York have some special claim to innovation and passion.
They don’t, of course. Through Local Hack Day, student organizers are spreading hacker culture everywhere, and empowering others to launch new hackathons at their own schools. Local Hack Day is an annual, worldwide day of hacking coordinated by MLH. The premise is simple: we want to make it as easy as humanly possible to run an on-campus hacking event, so for Local Hack Day, MLH will handle all the heavy lifting—fundraising, negotiating with sponsors,promotion, swag, etc.—organizers need only worry about securing a room and filling it with awesome hackers.
Establishing a full-scale hackathon is easier after running a successful Local Hack Day. Smaller events help build momentum around the hacker community on your campus and are vital for jumpstarting local hacker culture. You’ll also develop confidence as an organizer, build valuable connections and most importantly, come away with a solid example of what you’re capable of—an invaluable proof point for networking with administrators, brands and fellow hackers in the future.
In addition to lowering the barrier to entry for organizers, Local Hack Day creates an environment more accessible to prospective attendees who are new to the hacking scene. First-time participants can take advantage of livestream tutorials covering basics like Git and Arduino.
“It’s incredibly accessible to beginners because not only are events held in so many places, but there are talks that go on all day via livestream that cover enough topics that anyone can go from knowing nothing to being a hacker pretty quickly,” said Albert Guo, a junior at Penn State.
Even in a city like New York, home to Silicon Alley, access to technology and thereby hacker culture is stratified. A private school in Tribeca can be expected to provide students the requisite resources to pursue tech projects, but a public school in Harlem? Not so much.
“My school specifically isn’t computer science oriented, so organizing Local Hack Day allows me to connect with other students that are into CS,” said Mamadou Diallo, a Local Hack Day organizer and co-founder of The Young Hackers, a community group for aspiring new programmers. “I get to bring together high school students from all over New York City.”
If that’s a sentiment that resonates, join Diallo, Guo and thousands of others for Local Hack Day on October 10. Just sign up. We’ll handle the rest.