What’s a hackathon?
Put sixty-odd intelligent and creative people in a room and tell them to do some smart people stuff. That’s basically what a hackathon is – a minimally prescriptive format which provides a venue for self-expression and creativity through problem solving. People come together, form teams around attacking a particular problem, and collaboratively come up with a solution. For us, it’s a fantastic way to practice that experimentation and innovation mindset, and to generate a bunch of valuable ideas along the way (see (1) and (2) above).
If you’re interested in running a hackathon at your own organisation, I recommend hackathon.guide by Joshua Tauberer. This gives a general, (i.e. non-tech-specific) guide to hackathons. Especially the question those set on running a hackathon might not ask – is a hackathon the right format?
Running a FOND Fest
And so in late August of 2017, fuelled by coffee and sandwiches, Biarri Networks gathered in Melbourne for the inaugural Fond Fest, to try and re-think the way telecommunications networks are planned and built.
Here’s some examples of the sort of things we tackled:
- Geospatial version control, e.g automatically tracking relevant geometric changes on design elements
- How to automatically source open source data to produce premise-up costed designs anywhere in the world.
- Ways to make learning how to use FOND fun and engaging for new users
After three days of Fond Fest; of scrapped ideas, customer personas, arguments, mini-golf and hastily-pulled-together examples, our output was myriad, and often complex. UI mockups, code snippets, web sites, organisational plans and brave new meme formats. To boil it down, each team had just three minutes to sell their solution to the rest of the company, competing to have their names immortalised on the Fond Fest trophy – the Golden Splice.
Behold! The Golden Splice.
It was a fierce battle, resulting in a split-decision, with two teams sharing this now vaunted prize. And then all rivalries were suddenly dropped, as the pizza had arrived.