In this first post of my blog, I’m going to describe the concept of ‘Hackathon’, on which I built the idea of my blog: Hackathon of Things (HoT).

As you may have already heard or read, a hackathon is an event where multiple professionals and enthusiasts on a specific topic get together during one or several days, to create (in teams) innovative solutions to real-world situations.

Originally, a hackathon was conceived as an event limited to software developers, interface designers, project managers and people related to the software industry; nevertheless, the concept has gone wider and now it’s being used for many different topics beyond software development. It’s important to bear in mind that most hackathons are still related to technology and innovation, but they aren’t exclusively about coding, they are more about innovating for a specific industry or cause. Some examples of famous topics for hackathons, are: Virtual Reality, Health, Public Transport, Internet of Things, Big Data, Space Apps, LGBT rights, Music, Winter, Food, Sustainability, Migration, etc.

The word “hackathon” is composed of two words: the verb hack and the noun marathon. Although the verb hack could be associated to the obscure world of computer hacking (and indeed there’s a little bit of that in the origins of hackathons), nowadays the hackathons are rather built on a positive meaning of this word, which is related to creative problem solving. And this is what hackathons are about: events for achieving the best solution to a specific real-life problem. As for the word marathon, the idea is that a hackathon is a non-stop competitive event (like a marathon), where all the participants are challenged to achieve the most innovative solution within a limited time. This time pressure is very positive, because it pushes all the participants to give their best, without procrastinating key activities or losing time in irrelevant tasks. In a hackathon, focused creativity is a must!

A hackathon is an event in which all the competitors must work in teams and use their unique skillset to achieve the best result. And this means that the team members shouldn’t lose time in activities in which they don’t excel at. All the teams in a hackathon need to have leaders and doers, and let’s be honest, not everybody is proficient in both. This is easily identified in a software-development hackathon, where the teams always have a leader (project manager), and several programmers, amongst many other possible roles in the team. This doesn’t mean that the programmers can’t lead or that the project manager can’t develop anything, but having a limited timeframe, each member of the team must focus on his/her top skills.

Now you know more about hackathons! I hope that this post has inspired you in some way, maybe for you to search for exiting hackathons on the topics you’re passionate about, or why not, for creating your own hackathon.

Some interesting links about hackathons and upcoming events: