Next #geowebchat: Hackathons, what are they good for?

A hackathon is an intensive event, often held over a weekend, where software developers, designers, and others work together on software projects. Some hackathons focus on creating applications for social change, or are organized hastily to respond to natural disasters, while others are competitions sponsored by software companies to develop a community around a new platform or API.

In whatever form, hackathons are growing in popularity (at least among tech- and internet circles) but are also coming increasingly under critique. Some argue that hackathons are just another form of exploited volunteer labor, where businesses and governments get a weekend of skilled services they’d otherwise have to pay for. Others point out that the rhetoric of openness and engagement surrounding hackathons ignores the fact that they are still very exclusive events where only people with certain skills can contribute meaningfully. Even for those who support the goals of a hackathon in principle, there is the argument that a hackathon is simply an ineffectual way to create software, that programming requires solitary and sustained focus, rather than dozens of people working together for a short time, with no long-term commitment to a project.

This week on #geowebchat we will be discussing hackathons: When are hackathons effective, and for what tasks? Have you participated in or organized a hackathon? If so, please join us and share your experience. Also (since this is geowebchat), we will ask whether hackathons have a special relevance to the geoweb, rather than to the web more generally?

Log on to Twitter for a one hour discussion at 12pm PDT / 3pm EDT / 7pm GMT on Tuesday, March 19.

If you can’t make it, a transcript of the chat will be available afterward here: http://mappingmashups.net/geowebchat/

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