Last week saw the Nokia UK Developer Engagement team put on a hack weekend with Rewired State, our friends at the Guardian and BlueVia (O2 to us UK folks). (H)activate tied into the broader Guardian 'Tech for Social Change' conference, Activate, held on Wednesday.
It was the first time I had fully experienced a full two day hack: 70 developers in a room, 1 task (Develop web and mobile apps to change the world) and under 2 days to deliver. My first learning was you need to come with a fairly developed idea, otherwise you spend the first three hours panicking about what to do and what data there is available. Second learning is when a developer has a red bug on his computer you can't disturb him, he's in the coding zone. Third learning is that sweets and SodaStream keep the geeks coding like mad. Fourth learning is that sleep goes out the window in the quest for a fully functioning prototype - one bloke didn't sleep all weekend, he just hung out all night programming in Kings Cross station.
So were the hacks any good after just 36 hours work? Yes, I was massively impressed with the 18 hacks, most of which were functioning and not just concepts. The overall winner was SafeTrip, a web & SMS solution aimed at human trafficking. The Nokia prize went to Interact(Your Opinon Matters), a great SMS voting framework that can be used for government polling (think the Census or a referendum) and just as easily for TV voting on X Factor style quizes. If you want to check out all the hacks pop over to the Rewired State blog.
(H)activate newspaper of all the hackers courtesy of Newspaper Club
PS Alex Rogers has asked me to point out she has nothing to do with this post. Twas written by Alex Franklin.