My personal context
Since I started working at BeCode, I have learned about the existence of hackathons through my learners. Sometimes they come back from these events completely delighted, sometimes they come back completely disgusted with sometimes hateful comments against the organisers and/or project leaders. It’s hard to argue when you’ve never done one.
But by listening to the comments, I was able to tell the difference between a good and a bad hackathon.
I have learned that in a hackathon, you want to code. But to win, you have to convince a jury, sell your ideas. Sometimes, it is more wise to devote your time to functional models, design, slogan, storytelling and much less to code. I was planning to check all these theories.
August 2019, my former learners are in internship, they ae not with me at BeCode anymore. But we feel like we’re still together, still a family. And precisely at that time, there was this famous hackathon that was going to take place for the second time: Hack in the Woods.
So I decided to register, not as a coach but as a participant, to be really immersed, like the learners, and understand what they experience when they have to manage a project in only a few hours.
Hack in the Woods ?
Organized by the Microsoft Innovation Center, Hack in the Woods is a mix of hackathon for code and projects to revolutionize, and festival for camping and activities.
This year, in addition to camping, tech talks and people coding all over the estate, we were able to enjoy a karaoke, a Pavel & Aerosnop concert followed by an improvised DJ Mombo mix (Thanks to Jean-Marc and Pablo for organizing that last minutes, it made the evening even more magical!), a Kaamelott evening, a lab with 3D printer,…
The roosters in the campsite are cute but when they yell at each other at 4:00 in the morning, you just wait for one thing: the Saturday night barbecue.Everyone
It was awesome. Fatboy, deckchairs, chairs, plaids provided (it served us well!).
For food and drinks: food trucks with super good food, tasty drinks and cooks as nice as they are talented. And the little something extra was the use of a ticketless bracelet. The system is simple: when you get your festival bracelet, you have a small magnetic card that will allow you to recharge a credit account, so you don’t have to walk around with your cash or your bank card and the people who serve you only get the food.
We must also talk about the bins that proposed to sort. And the good thing was that everything that was available to us allowed us to sort.
The organization decided to opt for dry toilets. I’ve never tested it before, but frankly, I approve. Indeed, there are no smells so no flies lurking around your ass when you do your business. The showers had hot water and minimum comfort so that you didn’t have to put your clothes on the floor. Everything was cleaned very regularly, which ensured incredible comfort.
In the campsite, we had plenty of space to settle in and even make tribal meeting spaces.
The projects and especially our project….
15 projects in total but I will only talk to you about the one we have invested in. We chose Close The Gap’s project because from day one, this NGO has been providing BeCode with computers for our learners. This allows those who do not have a computer but still want to become coders to have the necessary equipment to follow the training.
The problem of Close The Gap is simple: simply locate and know the status of computers sent around the world. Indeed, Close The Gap provides computers to BeCode, but not only. Computers are also sent all over the world! It is difficult to keep an eye on a fleet of several hundred thousand computers.
At BeCode, we have the same problem. We receive computers and dispatched them to 6 campuses, we sometimes have trouble knowing which computer is in stock, assigned, in good condition, to repair or completely broken. It is not with emails and an excel file that we will succeed and neither will the NGO.
Aware and concerned by the problems of the NGO but also determined to help those who have helped us since the first day, we have decided to study the issues and present a prototype that would convince Close The Gap to collaborate with us on this project and also show them that it is not wrong to invest in the future of our learners.
The outcome of the hackathon
Usually, at the end of a hackathon, there is a presentation of the projects, a jury, prizes, rankings and winners. Here, none of that. We presented our projects in sunny stands while everyone could walk around and enjoy popcorn. So there is no winner; or rather everyone is a winner because there is no stress, no real competition. We participate because we want to participate, not for profit. We invest ourselves because we believe in a project and I think that the fact we didn’t have this pressure has helped a lot so that everyone is, from start to finish, perfectly relaxed and really enjoys these 4 days. Also, members of other teams didn’t hesitate to help other groups. I confess I found it beautiful. Mutual assistance, lack of competition, passion, love of what we do, friendship that is created or consolidated. It was beautiful. Very beautiful.
It was fucking awesome. We’re going back next year.
- Hack In The Wood’s Official Website
- Aurore Delsoir, the photographer of the event
- Hack in the Wood Spotify’s playlist, by Nathan Pire
- Our Close The Gap project repo GitHub repository
- Special Twitter Thread #hitw2019 on my Twitter account
- Friday’s pictures by Aurore Delsoir
- Saturday’s pictures by Aurore Delsoir
- Sunday’s pictures by Aurore Delsoir
Other BeCoder participations
- Got Milk? – Project made by Stéphanie, Alexandre, Jonathan, Jeremy, Thibaut
- Connected Ashtray – Project by Maxim and Cassandra
Most of the pictures are mine, but I also used Gaëlle Gaban‘s.