Forums/IDEO Make-a-thon

OpenIDEO Hackday? Need your builds...

Haiyan Zhang
posted this on December 5, 2011, 16:01

Hello there! We're thinking of prototyping an OpenIDEO Hackday, very likely in London first and then expanding out from there. We would love to get the community's builds on how to structure / promote / recruit for such an event.

Based on the great technology ideas arising out of challenges like Amnesty and Oxfam, we're looking to specifically devote a hackday to building out the technology and design solutions to these ideas, pairing designers with developers.

Have you attended a successful hackday event?

What do you think worked and did not work?

What would you bring over to the OpenIDEO Hackday event?

How could designers and developers work effectively together in an adhoc hackday?

And finally, if you are located in or around London, would you be interested in attending?

There have, of course, been quite a few discussions about the potential of a live hacking event for OpenIDEO. Take a look at these concepts from our Impact Challenge:




User photo
Arjan Tupan

Oh, this is a great idea. I wish I had something constructive to add here, but I have not much experience in this. But, if I'd been close to London, I would attend :)

December 5, 2011, 20:39
User photo
Meena Kadri

And if anyone is interested to read Arjan's reflections on his participation in the Open Planet Ideas Development Day
– check 'em out here.


December 5, 2011, 20:53
User photo
Arjan Tupan

hahaha, you got me there. That is obviously something similar. In that case: bring different talents together in one room. And look also at people who are not designers or developers, but maybe can add some user insight to the mix. In the end: they have to be used.

December 5, 2011, 21:08
User photo
Alexandros Michael

This is indeed a great idea. I've been to two hackdays so far - DesignJam  and Music Hack Day, both of them in London. I'd definitely attend this one.

What struck me were the amazing ideas that people can come up with in such a short time. It's truly inspirational. There's not much I could change or do better, apart from aiming at a better mix of talents in the crowd. The hackdays I've been to tended to be either very designer-focused or very developer-focused. In most cases, this resulted in beautiful design and little implementation, or finished products which could do better with design. 

December 5, 2011, 22:29
User photo
Michael Stillwell

I've been to a few--some of which I liked, and some I didn't.

I think ideally you'd first have a few brief talks from people/companies who have APIs that people might want to use.  This bit should hopefully be exciting and inspiring.  (Can have multiple talks simultaneously in different areas if necessary.)  Then you also probably want short talks from people who've arrived with ideas in hand (and in some cases partially-formed teams) who present their idea and try to convince people to join them in executing it.  (If they're designers needing developers, or developers needing a designer, for example.)  And some web-based equivalent for those that don't want to speak or listen.

I think it would be useful if at least some of the API and project information was available before the hackday--this way you can both somewhat set the tone for what's going to happen on the day, and get people thinking about what they might want to do.  (I don't know of any hackday that actually does this, however.  Maybe it's a bad idea for some reason.)

It's fairly hard to get something done in a day, particularly if there's much communication necessary.  You end up with a bare prototype, if that.  Is there anything much meaningful that designers can contribute at that point?  I'm not sure.

I'm in London, and I'd definitely attend.  I'm a developer, and so know a few developers.  I know people involved in charity/development as well.

December 5, 2011, 23:17
User photo
Paul Reader

Hope all goes well! I would love to be a fly on the wall (but I would be about as useful too).- the mysteries of app development are beyond me these days. I will have a couple of beers at a local beach barbecue to cheer you on.

December 6, 2011, 10:30
User photo
Nat Manning

Fantastic idea. I would be keen to join if you host one in San Francisco/bay area.

Hackaday thoughts: I have attend startup weekends, which are slightly different but have great results. Definitely look to their model. Barcamps are also wonderful. I also attended the cleanweb hackathon, which was more similar to a startup weekend in that people broke into teams and presented products by the end of the weekend. I have attended some of the informal hackathons at Google, but the problem with them is that there is very little structure, and so there is a bit of a social block to just walk up to someone engrossed in their computer and ask "how can i help?" I recommend going for startup weekend type model with a clear design challenge, have people present concepts, break into groups, work all-day-all-night, then present again at the end of the weekend.

Go for it!

December 6, 2011, 18:14
User photo
Amanda Drescher

As Paul said, I would love to be a fly on the wall!  I don't have the technical skills necessary to participate in a hackday, but it sounds awesome.  It would seem to be a good idea to have some university as well as corporate partnerships.  As such, this might be a good guide for a London hackday.  If your hackday is one where participants must pay a fee, it's also nice if you have student discounts or waivers.  Additionally, universities may be able to serve as a good hosting location.  Other than that, keep the coffee flowing I would imagine!

Looking forward to seeing what develops!

December 10, 2011, 20:19
User photo
Haiyan Zhang

Hi all, Just to give you an update on this, our London Hackathon is under planning and we're working closely with Amnesty to focus on the winning ideas from our Unlawful Detention challenge.

We're aiming for a mix of designers, programmers and systems thinkers to join us on the day and form inter-disciplinary teams.

More info will be forthcoming!

In the meantime, we are looking for any organisations to help sponsor us in terms of food, drinks, prizes, giveaways, technology. Can you put us in touch with anyone?



January 3, 2012, 17:36
User photo
Haiyan Zhang

It's been a crazy start to the year!

We've been busy planning the IDEO Make-a-thon to tackle some of the ideas arising out of our OpenIDEO Amnesty challenge as well as other challenges around community building.

Find out about the event details & signup for a spot here:

We will be publishing the briefs to be tackled at the Make-a-thon within the next few days!

February 1, 2012, 22:41
User photo
Haiyan Zhang

Hi Everyone, we're finally counting down to the IDEO Make-a-thon event where we will be tackling some of the ideas arising out of our OpenIDEO Amnesty challenge as well as other briefs for building community and cycle safety.

Over the next few days we will be publishing the set of briefs teams will be tackling at the event. Please join in the conversation in our user forums whether you're attending in person or virtually.

See the briefs here and check back each day for more!

We hope to see you online or in London.



February 8, 2012, 22:42