Hack the Planet is rapidly approaching and MLH is gearing up for an epic hackathon, with participants coming in from all around the world for 36 hours of learning, building and sharing at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.
In putting together our vision of the ideal hackathon, we wanted to get a sense of what the ideal hackathon looks like for some of the many other members of the MLH community. We also wanted to ask folks why they’re choosing to attend Hack the Planet this year.
Here’s what people had to say:
Cassidy Williams, developer evangelist at Venmo
MLH: What’s an ideal hackathon look like for a hacker?
CW: As a hacker, an ideal hackathon is one that, first of all, is very inclusive. If you don’t have a team, it prepares for that. If you’re not very experienced, it prepares for that. A hackathon that’s just running like a well-oiled machine, you really can’t take that for granted.
MLH: What are some of the common organizer pitfalls you’ve seen?
CW: They don’t consider what could go wrong, and unfortunately, you have to. If the food doesn’t show up, what’s our backup plan? If the electronics or Wi-Fi stops working, do we have the ability to hardwire things? You need to consider everything that can potentially go wrong.
MLH: Do you have different criteria for an ideal hackathon as a developer evangelist?
CW: Not really. If you’ve planned it for the hackers, it’s very easy for the evangelists to go in and do their jobs. If everybody is organized in a certain way, as an evangelist I can go to the people who have ideas and help them work on those ideas. If I’m trying to help people find their teams, I can help out with that. If everything is taken care of for the hackers, then it’s also taken care of for us as well.
Apes in Space, hackathon team from Toronto
MLH: What is Apes in Space?
Nikita Tsytsarkin: We just do ridiculous moonshot stuff that people find crazy at first, but then we actually make it happen. With Hack The Planet, I think we’re going to focus on ideas that are going to be wicked to demo based on failures we’ve seen in the past and just deliver on that.
MLH: How is Hack the Planet unique compared to some of the other hackathons you’ve participated in?
NT: The scale is bigger, the stakes are bigger, so I think we want to show something that everyone can enjoy. At normal hackathons, I would be able to pick maybe five, ten projects and say ‘yeah, those are cool.’ At Hack the Planet, it’s the best of the best—I expect a hundred projects to be amazing.
Aldrich Wingsiong: The location and the caliber of the talent and the sponsors there, it’s going to make for awesome hacks. I think it’s just going to push everyone to bring better ideas, better execution and a better team. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the projects will have potential to be productized.
Adam Chan: Most of the MLH events we’ve been to previously have been on a local scale where we compete with people from universities within that localized area. With Hack the Planet, we’re competing on an international level and that’s pretty exciting.
Rob Spectre, developer network crew at Twilio
MLH: What’s your idea of an ideal hackathon?
RS: I think the ideal hackathon has nothing to do with food and nothing to do with the venue, or whether or not they have massages, or laser tag. What I remember most about a good hackathon are the hackers I worked with while I was there. As long as you have that, and enough power and Wi-Fi to keep the party going—the community is what makes a great hackathon.
MLH: Where does that come from? Is community a product of what the organizers put into the event?
RS: It’s a direct reflection of the character of the leadership of the event. Organizers care about what the attendees of the event are going to care about. If the organizers care about money, that’s what the people who show up are going to care about. If the organizers care about owning every idea, that’s what the participants are going to care about.
MLH: Why did Twilio choose to sponsor Hack the Planet?
RS: It’s not so much that we chose Hack The Planet—our developers chose Hack The Planet. That’s very clear to us, and obviously we want to be there to serve them in any way we can. Any time developers are getting together to celebrate their very special ability in a constructive way is basically where we’re going to be. Bringing all those extraordinarily enthusiastic folks under one roof to spend some time honing their craft and building something: I think it’s an incredibly exciting proposition.
Hack the Planet is the season finale event for Major League Hacking, kicking off August 14 in Mountain View, CA. Students from around the world will gather at the Computer History Museum to learn, network and craft the craziest hacks in the universe!