Over the past couple of years, I’ve done my share of hackathons. The first one I did was in August of 2010 in Seattle at Chris Pirillo’s Gnomedex 10, an “24 Hour Open Government Hackathon“. There I first met Chris Metcalf of Socrata, Aaron Pareki and Amber Case of a yet-to-be-launched Geoloqi, a pre-Code for America Max Ogden, and perhaps most importantly, Willow Brugh, co-founder of Jigsaw Renaissance and director of Geeks Without Bounds.
It was a truly epic event and spawned friendships and partnerships that I could have never have envisioned outside of the construct of what we now all know as “hackathons”. Back then, it was a relatively new concept…now they’re everywhere.
The last few weekends I’ve spent at AT&T hackathons in Dallas and New York. Alex Donn, the guru of AT&T Mobility hackathons, is a well-oiled machine when it comes to these kind of events. I had the honor of being a mentor, or as they call us at the AT&T hackathons…a “Sensei” at recent AT&T Mobility Hackathons in Plano and New York.
The focus of the hackathon in Dallas was Education, and the AT&T Foundry in Plano was packed by local educators and students with a passion for improving their education system with technology. The one in New York, also supported by Ericsson, was organized in conjunction with the Social Good Summit, and focused on applications that have a humanitarian or social good focus.
As a “Sensei”, I had to opportunity to mentor these young developers on several aspects of their projects, such as relevance, security, business viability and sustainability. A few of the projects we worked on are even currently going through the Geeks Without Bounds accelerator program right now. I was thoroughly impressed with both of the AT&T hackathon events that I participated in and look forward to being invited back in the future.
And hey, here’s proof we had fun: