Do you enjoy using code? Is your favorite language a computer language? Maybe, the answer is yes and if that's the case simply participating in or attending a hackathon is the next command to perform.
Basically, a Hackathon or hack day is an event where programmers and developers work together on sometimes a specific software project. Some people that will participate in these events include project managers, novice coders, gaming developers, mobile software creators, graphic designers, interface designers and students.
The goal may be to create usable software and it often is set up for educational or social benefit. Many times they will work with a certain set of tools, one or more programming languages, a particular operating system, an API, a game or focus on a specific demographic of programmers. It is also a chance to come together and work on new apps, websites or a creative new project. Although the word "hack" can be associated with a negative attempt to decry-pt a website, computer network or a program, it is more commonly used in a playful manner to refer to an exploration of new technology or systems and not a crime.
Hackathons will usually begin with one or more presentations. Next, participants will collaborate on ideas, form teams, and begin working together because of similar skill or interest. Finally the hackathon will start and can last anywhere from several hours to several days. If there is a contest involved the judges will select winning teams and prizes are given. At one particular hackathon in 2013 a payout of $1 million dollars was presented to the winners by a company called Salesforce.com. This is not a typical prize for many hackathons it is all dependent on the sponsors, universities, tech groups or internet companies and what they are willing to compensate for the work attained.
Picking the right one
Below is a list of the different types of hackathons to keep in mind when locating one to attend:
- Use of specific programming language or framework ie. game, mobile app, desktop application
- Educational purposes ie. Educational Hack Days
- Benefit or cause ie. Random Hacks of Kindness, Hack Day for Heroes, etc..
- Tribute, memorial or dedication
- Internal Company ie. yahoo, google or aol
- Demographic group ie. college, women or gamers
Remember its important to brush up on all computer language, software tools or API required for the event in order to be better prepared and knowledgeable on the day of the event. Focusing on the goals of the event and working collectively with your team(s) to attain it will help in completing your project and make for a better hackathon.
Check out future articles for some hacking and coding events to be hosted soon in the Los Angeles and surrounding areas: A List of Upcoming Hacking Events
Here are a few ideas on how to find a hacking, coding or gaming event in your area:
Research Internet Companies
These companies will most always have an upcoming event or developers contest coming up and have information or sites on registering or attending them. Once you find one that you like search upcoming events on the company events page or contact the support for information about events in your area. Next, sign up for one or more of the company's sponsored events whether it's a hack-a-thon, app contest or coding event they will be able to assist you in determining the events that interest you. Some will have entrance or registration fees but not always as many are sponsored or educationally driven.
Join a Meetup group
There are plenty of meetup groups that are centered around technology or computers. By joining a group like this you have access to upcoming hacking events and an invitation to participate in them. You can also subscribe to any publications that correlate with the group or regional print materials that pertain to technology. Many computer magazines will include advertisements for upcoming events you can attend along with information about the company or contest. Also, sponsors will utilize these magazines to highlight upcoming contests or event many of which include hackfests, coding events or hack-a-thons.
Browse Social and Search Sites
Twitter, Facebook, Meetup or Pinterest are good sites to look into when searching for hackathons or coding events. Also searching for hack-a-thons on a popular search engine like google, yahoo or bing will allow you to find more information on current and upcoming events. Be sure to jot down any specifics so that you will be better prepared on the day of the event.