Until recently I’d never been to a hackathon. Beyond the basics, I had no idea what a hackathon involved; a bunch of people with ideas trying to make something. I knew enough to tell people that no actual hacking would take place and that instead, a bunch of geeks would be hacking things together, which is definitely different in my opinion.
The Guernsey Team?
I was in the lucky position of finding myself on the Guernsey team along with the team sponsor Stuart Moseley; our default spokesperson and general media liaison. The coding parts of the project were completed by three of us: Me, Adrian Ritchie from Kodo and Ian Rothwell. The super important spreadsheet data massaging was done by Chris Coquelin who helped us out on the first night.
Our mascot was Harry the Hacker Bear.
We met up once before departure to get some idea of what we would do, so in true “wing-it” style, we went to the pub and tried to think of something. The theme was Fintech (Financial Technology) a buzzword doing the rounds at the moment that consistently seems to plant ideas of Bitcoin in peoples minds. We didn’t want to follow the herd and so we went in a very different direction. Charity distribution.
We figured it would be possible to build a funds distribution system for charitable donations that would operate a little differently from those already around. The only other thing we decided is that we wanted to make use of sliders to do it. That’s it… that was the plan. We duly voyaged overseas to implement it.
The hackathon started at 8PM on Friday 13th March and ended at 10AM on Sunday 15th March. We had 38 hours to build something and we weren’t allowed to start before 8PM. This could be a challenge which was made even more challenging by the fact we decided to use systems and frameworks none of us had ever used before. Part of the hackathon ethos is to learn things so this seemed like a good idea and as it turns out, was a very good one.
After the start, we worked VERY hard, we ate lots of Pizza…
…and we had very little sleep (Aidy and Ian didn’t get any on Saturday night) and the end result was superb. Although we hadn’t implemented a payment processor, we’d managed to get the platform itself in place. Users could login via Twitter (more options for this coming soon) and they could add charities to their lists and assign a donation value to each with sliders as per our original idea.
Coding aside, the hackathon itself was great fun. Being surrounded by a lot of like-minded people made all the difference and the buzz of everyone cracking on with building their ideas certainly helped keep everyone running. All of us agreed that we’d try to get across for the next event later in the year.
The product we created is called GIVE (http://www.give.gg) and you can have a look and play around with it today.
We were on the Channel TV News whilst there and since we returned, there has been even more buzz around the site. The real highlight so far is that we were on BBC Radio Guernsey with Jim Cathcart.
(The audio is copyright BBC Radio Guernsey… hopefully they don’t mind us embedding this here – do let us know if it should be removed)