These days I am getting all these e-mails to join hackathons about certain topics. I wonder what the organisations that set up hackathons are actually hoping to achieve.
They are usually set up by government funded organisations (like MIC and VRT) and by big government funded companies (Proximus, Bpost)
I once participated in Apps for Ghent. I thought it was a nice idea, and I had fun building something quick in an afternoon. We made an app called Doctors in Ghent which, now that I think about it, is totally useless, because a directory of doctors should not be city specific, much less contained in an “app”.
But anyway, back to hackathons. Why would I go to a hackathon? The only reason I can think of is to meet new interesting people, but in that case, why don’t you just a) throw a party or b) host coding nights where people can meet and work together on meaningful projects?
The people at 10to1 used to do these coding nights and that was pretty cool.
What I dislike about hackathons is that they always seem to involve the same structure in which meaningful work is impossible: find a random group of people, brainstorm about an idea, and start coding it. In a single day.
Developing an idea into something meaningful takes months. Actually doing something real takes years. So why would you sit down and try to do something in a single day?
To me, a lot of this smells like organisations that don’t really know what to do with their (government) money, who have an internal brainstorm session about how to “innovate“ which leads to somebody coming up with a hackathon to “get people to innovate”.
I recognize that a lot of connections have been made through hackathons, startup weekends and even startup buses, but isn’t the innovation aspect of it a bit of a sham?