Now and then, developers like to get together, get creative and build cool stuff. We call this a Hack Day, because developers are hacking stuff around, experimenting, improvising, creating and playing. This kind of hacking has nothing to do with trying to access high security computers in Moscow or Langley, because this is about hacking for good.
Hack days can be used:
to solve problems
as a part of research and development
to allow developers to explore and create with new data
to encourage wider take-up of existing data
Hack Days, or modding (modification) days, typically last one to two days and can involve any number of developers; a minimum of 10 gives an event enough buzz, and more than 20 gets very exciting. At the start, devs are given a subject, a challenge and a rich dataset to work with. Then they code/design/engineer/make and break for 24 hours, building their own prototype solutions or ideas. Much beer and pizza is consumed. At the end of the hack, each dev does a short presentation of their work to the group of fellow devs, sponsors, judges and press. And then prizes are given.
Two day hacks work rather better, as devs can get their teeth into a problem overnight. Devs often team up with other designers and subject-matter experts to prototype digital solutions to each challenge; their invaluable computational thinking processes can help resolve long-standing problems and devise powerful, imaginative solutions. The Rumpelstiltskins of the modern world, these talented codefolk spin straw into gold…
What does Rewired State do?
Rewired State designs, organises and manages hack days. These are either commissioned by a company, brand or organisation who funds the event, or the hack is sponsored, like our National Hack the Government Day and Young Rewired State events each year.
We can also advise organisations on how to work with developers and with data, including best practice, organising data, and increasing the flexibility and value of data. Sometimes organisations want to offer a hack day but their data is either messy, inconsistent or AWOL.
Rewired State can:
prepare or find the data for the hack day
advise on API build
free data from formats, including PDFs, and turn into machine readable data
We are also whizzes at making tea, playing with retro gadgets (including soda streams) and finding really excellent 404 designs.
Rewired State absolutely does not do any of the following:
We do not take IP from the developer
We do not take anything beyond the working prototype stage, but will introduce the prototype developer to the client should there be interest
We are not agents for developers, so please do not ask us for developers’ contact details
Why hack days are so amazeballs
Hack days always produce amazing work, but the real benefits are far bigger than any one prototype or idea: hack days show you the future. In this API-saturated, information-overloaded device-obsessed world we live in, what motivates a talented, highly employable, creative developer to give up their free time and work flat out for a hack?
Developers at our hack events consistently give the same testimony; that the more overloaded they are, the more they feel they need a challenge, a thing apart from the daily grind. They turn up for the buzz, the competition, the contacts and friendship, and to learn. We’ve had developers who came to an event as a father’s day gift to themselves, developers who wanted some time and space to experiment with a web server, and very many first timers who have left their first hack brimming with pride and empowerment at the amazeballs hack they just put together.
For the hack day hosts, the point isn’t to end up with the next bazillion-dollar, company-saving prototype. The real achievement is helping to create that fertile environment where the magic happens, with talented developers learning from each other, lighting sparks.