It may be because I spend my life planning, organizing, running or participating in Innovation Events, that I'm particularly tuned in to the fact that hackathons are very au courant. The rate of jokes about anything is usually a pretty decent barometer to its awareness in the public eye, so I'd venture to say that hackathons have hit the public consciousness big time.
In other words, if Gartner had a Hype Cycle for such things, hackathons would likely be at the peak right about now.
Any given weekend in any big city, you can find a hackathon going on. Even governments, bodies not typically known for being cutting edge, you can find hackathons-galore to develop citizen-driven solutions. NASA has been an early advocate for hackathons to solve big problems. Note: if you hurry, you can still participate in their SpaceApps Challenge 2015.
In UX, we've been inspired by the use of hackathons for everything from stretching the limits of new technologies and the typical unexpected bonus of finding new use cases for them, and using the power of collective intelligence to solve health care problems, all the way to defining a model for predicting if asteroids are going to destroy earth. Many businesses are now using hackathons as a way to engage all users, and particularly ones fairly new in the workforce, such as targeting Gen Y and Z participants to predict and solve internet security issues, Industries and businesses you might not typically associate with hackathons have embraced the methodology for areas from finding the next round of hires in what is essentially a high tech application process at Kayak, to defining the future of the publishing industry, which inspired our own internal Future of Information Design Jam we ran in February.
Why do we do them at Oracle? UX certainly isn't the only team running hackathons, but we do run a lot of them, which obviously have a focus on business or technical problems we are interested in addressing in Apps UX. In case you're not aware, Oracle is a pretty big place. UX is how products integrate. A design jam or hackathon is an excellent, fast way to get people across pillars and the tech stack to work together to meet our combined goal of delivering the best experience. Do we get immediately productizable ideas? Sometimes. But, we always get those seeds of ideas that can be further explored and defined into an MVP, using my boss's @jrwashley's definition, a Minimally Valuable Product.
And, besides, they're fun.
In honor of Spring and this very funny video, I'm running a Clean My Garage Hackathon this coming weekend. Sign ups now available!
Coming soon: Internet of Things Hackathon in our Oracle Mexico Development Center in May.
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