Although I've known about hackathons for years, I've never paid them much attention. I'm not a developer, so I assumed there was nothing of interest for me. All of that changed recently when I attended a conference that included a hackathon surrounding the topic of software-defined networks -- a topic that interests me greatly. For the first time, I was able to see what a hackathon is all about -- and the incredible potential they have in moving technology forward.
What I learned is that you don't need to be a developer, or even an active participant, to become interested in hackathons. You can simply marvel in the products others come up with within the guidelines of the particular hackathon. The amount of creativity and potential for real-world application is astounding, especially considering the limited amount of time most hackathons provide.
If you are like me and you look hard enough, you will almost certainly find a hackathon or two that will interest you enough to follow and monitor the outcomes. Hackathons span just about any topic you can imagine. Some focus on a specific technology, programming language, or piece of hardware. Others seek the answer to a problem -- whether it's driven by monetary, social, or any other interest.
Here, we've surveyed seven past, present, and future hackathon topics that illustrate the wide spectrum of subjects out there. Some are fairly broad -- such as a hackathon for mobile device applications. Others drill down further -- such as creating an application for a specific piece of mobile hardware. Hackathons can also revolve around specific market verticals, such as retail, finance, or healthcare. Finally, some hackathons are created to assist with a good cause -- typically to solve a complex problem using technology.
Take a look at some of the hackathons we found especially interesting. Then, in the comments section below, please share your hackathon experiences, or let us know if we've convinced you to start paying more attention to the wonders and offerings of the hackathon movement.