What is a hackathon?
In April we will run a “Homeless Hackathon” in Glasgow. We were stirred into action by a front page article and investigation by a Scottish newspaper, which stated that “one person dies on the streets every week in Glasgow”. Yes, that’s Glasgow, in Scotland, one of the richest countries in the world.
As an event organiser, who currently lives in Barcelona, there isn’t much I can do to address the homeless situation in Glasgow. But, as always, I can do one thing, and that is create and run events. So my particular set of skills is now dedicated to running, as practical, and as useful an event as I can manage.
To help: hack
I’ve been following the lifecycle of the hackathon for a few years and I have seen it, relatively quickly, drop into the mainstream. I highlighted CycleHack as one of my events of the year in 2015, and I even suggested, during a consultancy contract, that a 75 year old medical association should consider running one! However, I have never actually run one. But that is about to change.
Homeless Hackathon Glasgow
The main reason I’ve jumped into a hackathon as a format, is because, if you really want to generate something meaningful from an event, there is no better option than running a hackathon.
Although the “Hackathon” is, as I said, quite mainstream now, many people don’t know what one is. In fact, someone I contacted about our Homeless Hackathon, happily admitted, to firstly googling “hackathon”, before getting back to me. So…..
According to Wikipedia: “A hackathon….is a design sprint-like event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, and others, often including subject-matter-experts, collaborate intensively on software projects” Although it is fair to say that the format has been mashed up by a few hackathons, moving away from the dominant role of software. Our Homeless Hackathon will include software solutions but will have many more “hardware” solutions.
So, with this event format, people pitch ideas, and participants get involved in the idea they like most. They work on creating a solution. We loved the idea that, at the end of 48 hrs, our participants would have a few things that could, in some way, help, assist or alleviate the shocking homeless situation in Glasgow. Isn’t this the type of impact that all events should have?
The focus on actions rather than words (there are no speakers or presentations at a Hack) provide a real focus for the participants. It cuts out the fat and gets straight to the heart of the issue. And with such a shocking situation in our major cities, the time for talking is surely over.
This is sure to be an interesting journey for all at Gallus Towers in Barcelona, so expect some regular updates.
To support our hackathon (there are plenty of ways to do it) check out the event.