Hackathons have become a phenomenon of the 21st century. They are the ‘in thing’. Everyone who considers themselves a techie wants to participate in one. Even though they are competitive events, there’s always a spirit of camaraderie formed among teams during the event.
Hackathons are communal. Participants gather together to learn, share and create. Even though hackathons are centered around the community, the prizes on offer give an incentive to think individualistically.
So What Are Hackathons Really?
Hackathon is a portmanteau of the words ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’. It is an event, usually code-sprint, that takes place usually over the weekend with the purpose of creating some product, usually software, and involves designers, developers, engineers and other technically inclined participants.
Hackathons are used by organisations to bring together the finest technical minds in one room in order to come up with elegant solutions to problems.
What are Hackathons Not
- Hackathons are not illegal
A Hackathon is not to be confused with black-hat hacking which is the illegal breaking into of networks. Hacking is considered an art form amongst expert programmers and not a harmful practice that is commonly depicted in the media. Hacking is the skillful putting together of software, and sometimes hardware, artifacts. Therefore, hackathons are marathons where artifacts are put together artfully over a limited time period to solve a particular problem not to break the law.
- Hackathons are not startups
Hackathons are not super-focused on business models and pitching venture capitalists. Although it does happen that some startups do come out of hackathons. Some participants might work for startups but that’s rather incidental than a requirement.