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Ask HN: What is your most impressive hackathon project?
115 points by Windson on May 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments



I won a NASA world competition by building a Heads Up Display (AR) and motion tracking software in ~36h with a classmate. Around 1 year before the Hololens and similar solutions existed.

As my classmate and I were talking through Skype the night before the competition started, I looked through my window and could see the stars. However, I could also see my face dimly lit from my laptop screen overlapping. So it came to me that it was a great way of making a HUD for a prototype.

We got to it and built the prototype from scratch. It took a lot of work and resourcefulness, rushing to get a webcam from friends that would work a Sunday morning (in Spain that year shops were closed on Sundays). Then we used several languages I already knew, if I remember correctly: HTML, CSS, PHP as the HUD display was actually a webpage, Processing for hand tracking and C++ for Arduino. I made the whole software part and my classmate the hardware+electronics. There were some more things like sensors and stuff that we made.

For the local phase we made it theatrical starting with the moon landing audio and the lights off, with me entering wearing the helmet and barely able to breathe and my classmate with the laptop and cables. Connect the projector and a screen appears. I'm sweating, but I point with my finger at a part of the screen and it correctly reads where and displays the info real-time. The same for the other 4 points and I can feel truly happy inside that it is working.

After winning the local one we rushed to get votes since we got into the People's Choice category and we had a strong battle against Macedonia's team. They were Trending Topic for most of the week the contest was happening in their whole country while in Spain it was all about football and celebs and we just made it into regional newspapers at that point. Another team also used bots but of course NASA people detected it. We won in the end, visited Cape Canaveral and saw a rocket launch.

One of the best moments (of my life) was when I came to class after winning the whole thing and everyone stood up and started clapping.

Here is the project, https://2014.spaceappschallenge.org/project/space-helmet/ (yes, for the video we used a fishtank and printed GoPros as props)

Many edits: added extra info and details, sorry for the long post.


For such an impressive project the Github page is surprisingly sparse!


"space" is the Processing files for detecting the hand, "web" is for showing and reading the data on screen and the .ino for Arduino. If I remember correctly I struggled quite a bit with the hand detection system and then we had to adapt it to the light conditions of the place, finding a good way to do it, etc.

Also of course I was just a couple of years in with learning programming while studying an unrelated degree.


> Around 1 year before the Hololens and similar solutions existed

HUDs have existed for a long time...

And Hololens uses tracking and other technologies that make it useful for AR.


Ah I know, and I think unconsciously I was inspired by Ironman, what I mean is that the new age of AR came after that so at that point it was kind of fresh (even though there were previous ages long time ago).


https://swarmation.com/

Our team of 3 won the first Node Knockout by a slim margin with this realtime, multiplayer, pixel formation game.

Edit: Thank you for your positive feedback! Send me suggestions and ideas if you have any.

Tip: press spacebar.


Most of the time nobody gets the shape right. Could it be lag or server issues?


Sometimes people move around at the last second and that can confuse things. But, ya, I've noticed some bugginess with the formations too. I'll look into it.

I didn't engineer the back-end, that was all @steadicat, but the way I think it works is if 3 or more clients confirm a formation they're a part of as correct, it's marked as correct. That way the server doesn't have to check every pixel on the board. But it can cause some issues if some of the clients are laggy.


Whoah, I had to close this. This is too fun. But I bookmarked it :)


This is so clever. Kudos!!! Like a flash mob, everyone trying to follow the directions


This game is super fun! congrats


addictive :)


I'd spent an intense week coding so was feeling a bit burnt out with a hangover. So decided to create a tube map of Bath Cycle Routes with the help of one other on the day.

Many iterations later the map and the process through which the map is created is being used nationally and internationally. I've done workshops. Spoken at national conferences. The local tourist office hands it out. It's going to be in next months local authority magazine. Even had enquiries from local authorities to make these for them.

It's up for a local award in innovation (will find out in June if I've won). https://cyclebath.org.uk/2017/05/11/finalist-creative-bath-a...

Something that was a "meh really do not want to code today" hack has turned into a bit of a monster.

I think it would be good to automate how these maps are created, but there really is an artform to making them work well and require an immense amount of local knowledge and public consultation.


There was a thesis I read on automated metro map drawing which beautifully proved it's equivalence to another NP-Complete problem, and then proceeded to use a constraint solver to create locally optimal solution. Was quite a complex set of constraints. But it ended up with some good results.


I drank beers and chilled for a week while people were burning out coding for free. That's the most impressive thing I've done at an hackaton. I code 24/7 from Monday to Friday for the same company, sometimes on the weekends too. They said hackatons are optional so I took a break and was fresh the next Monday at the office ;)


> 24/7 Monday to Friday

That's 24/5.


Also, I would be very skeptical of anyone who claims to be coding 24 hours a day. ;)


"How can mirrors be real if eyes aren't real?" - Jaden Smith

I made a Chrome Extension that blocks eyes: https://vimeo.com/90351144

If someone runs a dumb ideas hackathon in London, my next plans are either:

- Song lyrics to nineties powerpoint presentation converter, with lots of bullets and stock photos, and timed transitions

- A computer vision and Mortal Kombat-style announcer for pissing the shit off toilet seats


I built a digital bank for refugees that would allow them to set up a bank account, move their funds for safe keeping and also store documents securely. Authentication happened entirely through a 6 digit code and facial and voice recognition through use of video. The idea was that refugees or other displaced persons would be able to access their documents and funds through any device, so that they could easily establish their identity and life in a new country.

The other aspect was location verification. Working with NGOs, you could use this authentication method to let displaced persons login at certified locations. This solves two big issues:

1. Family member tracking. Red Cross and other organisations spend millions of dollars each year tracing where family members ended up. It is quite common for families to be split - reuniting them is a multi-year, labour intensive job. Solving that would do the world a whole lot of good.

2. Journey verification. When assessing refugee visa status, governments spend a lot of time trying to verify what journey a particular person took to get there to prove that they are legitimately a refugee. If a refugee could irrefutably prove their journey, then it would dramatically cut down on visa processing times.

We won that hackathon - I just wish I had time to develop it more. Tried to find who to talk to but the idea of using technology to solve the refugee crisis seems a little outlandish to traditional NGOs who (rightly so) place a lot of emphasis on food and shelter over apps.


We tackled this as well in https://devpost.com/software/the-invisibles and an NGO is working in Greece with this as well as the other needs you mentioned.


My team (5 others) and I built an application that would help you revise or learn a subject by testing you about it, where that subject could be anything, from mathematics to Shakespeare.

It worked by scraping the top 1000 Bing results and then scraping several levels deep from each of the results to generate a "map" of knowledge. This in turn could be used to ask the user questions, generated fill-in-the-blanks, matchups & whatever else you could think up.

It worked after the five-day hackathon, which was truly surprising, but unfortunately, it used too much computing power so we never released it to the world.


I'm interested to know more about the tools/techniques you used to scrap the sites and clean the results. I am working on scraping contents from a couple of sites and it seems to be a pain, probably because i don't have lot of experience around it.


If you are familiar with python then try scrapy[1]. You can also scrape websites using beautifulsoup4[2]

[1] https://scrapy.org/ [2] https://pypi.python.org/pypi/beautifulsoup4


We actually used Node.JS' request module, combined with some NLP (using natural) in order to pick out the main content. This worked pretty well, but for our purposes we didn't need it to be perfect because anything like headers would be removed when we processed the content (not being full sentences).


That sounds like an awesome tool! If you don't mind me asking, is it publicly available to view anywhere? What language is it in?

To second another comment, I am also working on scraping but for articles. In this particular example I am trying to figure out how to get the scraper to start on the first headline all the way down to the bottom, and not touch anything else. Any tips for how to get it to find the first heading on a page?


I would think it depends on the site... maybe some special html characteristics around the first headline?

I usually use lynx, which strips down the html and only outputs the text. News site tend to have the same structure for every article, so after passing the html to lynx, the headline for a news site article will probably be around line 5-6.


How did you generate the questions automatically?

This is something I have tried to do with natural languages in the past but getting good, error free, unambiguous questions out of an algorithm seems to be really difficult.


I have been to couple of hackathons. My second favorite is

WikiNomad: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.wikinomad , https://www.wikinomad.com

I improved on this after the hackathon too.

My personal favorite was predicting depression before it occurs in a person using just his cellphone. We worked on Stanford thesis that was able to predict depression based on the number of wifi points a user connected to variances to the wifi points.

We increased the data points to GPS, wake times, bluetooth connections, text sentiment analysis and amount of facebook + instagram apps usage and using neural networks trained to classify a user as depressed with a probability value.


I created "SideProjectors" - a marketplace for developers and entrepreneurs to buy and sell their side projects (and also you can show your side projects off too!).

https://www.sideprojectors.com

It won second prize sponsored by Freelancer at a local hackathon. That was almost 4 or 5 years ago now. I've improved the site a few times since then and it's still going quite strong! :)


A Harry Potter style "Maruauder's Map" which tracks people in a business/location in real-time. [1]

[1] https://github.com/schollz/find-maraudersmap


I do solemnly swear that I am up to no good. Do the footsteps gradually fade in and out like the movie FX?


Damn, I remember another Marauder's Map that was just genius!

Long story short, Facebook's Messenger automatically geotagged users by default. People reported it to their security program, Facebook said it was intended. Then someone made a browser extension that looked up location of active Messenger friends and showed their location on a map. It got increasingly popular. Facebook decided to switch the location from opt-out to opt-in.

Some sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/28/marauders...

https://www.quora.com/Can-I-still-download-the-Marauders-Map...

https://github.com/arank/marauders-map


We were planning on it but ran out of time ;)


Not mine, but my now colleagues attended a World Bank supported hackathon [1] and created the prototype for a water quality testing kit for smartphones, Caddisfly [2]. It ended up becoming a product which essentially gives you very close to lab results from an inexpensive and easy to operate field kit.

I normally consider hackathons a questionable way to engage the tech community. In my opinion they seldom lead to anything sustainable and set the wrong expectations. [3]

Disclosure: I helped finance the continued product development through our organisational work.

[1] http://www.techsangam.com/2011/11/08/my-thoughts-on-bangalor...

[2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716...

[3] https://www.citylab.com/life/2013/07/are-hackathons-stupid/6...


My devpost profile: https://devpost.com/yeldarb

I tend to work solo at Hackathons.

My favorite project was a presentation remote for Google Glass[1]. You could control your presentation with the touch bar on the side of the glasses, see your current slide in the HUD, and it also included a timer so you could make sure you didn't run over your talk's time limit.

Second favorite was Cardwolla[2]. A system where you could register your credit card and your dwolla account and a corresponding API for websites. If user and site had both opted in to taking dwolla it would route around the credit card system using the dwolla api to avoid to avoid the 2.7% credit card processing fees.

[1] https://devpost.com/software/presentation-remote-for-google-...

[2] https://devpost.com/software/cardwolla


Attended my first hackathon last month. We built "Spitter". It speaks twitter! You subscribe to someone's twitter account through it and whenever they tweet, you'll get a phone call and an automated voice will read out the tweet to you. Was really cool/creepy the next morning when we started getting calls with a robot reading Trump tweets about Obamacare to us!


Oh tell me it does voices, according to who's tweeting!


Sounds like a job for Lyrebird! https://lyrebird.ai/demo


A real-time voice-based lyrics suggester, in a web browser. Similar to a karaoke machine, but the rhyming words are generated based on your most recent word.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3aOPo5ofPU&t=47m


Can you elaborate on some of the tech you used to make this? Pretty cool to be able to hear a word and provide another word which rhymes.


Sure!

We generated the rhyming words using the CMU Pronunciation Dictionary [1]. These were saved in a map, which mapped a word to its list of rhyming words. Initially, the rhyming words produced were short and uninteresting. So we repeated this process, but this time sorted the rhyming words by "coolness", which at its simplest, was a measure of the word's length and the number of phonemes. To save time, the map contained only 20k of the most popular English words. The map was encoded as JSON and served to the browser.

In the browser, the Web Speech API performed speech recognition. Each time we detected the end of a sentence, we used the last word to look up a list of rhyming words from the map. The rhyming words were then displayed in a randomized order. This continued in a loop.

There's also a tiny Q&A section in the video [2].

[1] http://www.speech.cs.cmu.edu/cgi-bin/cmudict

[2] https://youtu.be/M3aOPo5ofPU?t=47m50s


This is awesome!


I made a thing that turns my Instagram posts into ambient soundscapes by understanding the content of the images, searching for relevant sounds, and mixing them into looped audio scenes.

It was made for the Monthly Music Hackathon in NYC held at Spotify, but it ended up being not terribly musical and more about just fun with audio and convnets :)

https://zopf.github.io/ambiance

Oh yeah! And for another instance of the same meetup, I teamed up with a guy who was great with audio synthesis, and I hooked up an Arduino and a gyroscope and microphone to my drumstick, and we made a wireless throat-singing, spatially-aware percussion instrument:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-g1GBaTevk


The company I worked at did a 2 week long hackathon. Another developer and I built a Ruby gem that creates service objects which integrate nicely into the Rail ecosystem. It was a bunch of fun and over time it ended up becoming a big part of our codebase. We open sourced it and it's done pretty well (https://github.com/orgsync/active_interaction). In fact, I was at a conference and met a guy who's company was using it. It was really cool to run into someone benefiting from my work.


Screamy Bird ā€” A clone of Flappy Bird but instead of tapping on the screen to make the bird flap you scream at your phone. http://glench.com/ScreamyBird (Works best in Firefox for larger devices) I made this for the SF Stupid Shit No One Needs & Terrible Ideas Hackathon: https://stupidhackathon.github.io/


Well, I'm not sure a technically impressive hackathon project is a plus past a certain point.

Not everyone follows the rules of the hackathon and works only during the time period. I was on a team that was a finalist at one of the startup festivals and won a few thousand dollars. Talking with the prize sponsor afterwards, they said something along the lines of "you don't have to pretend you did this all at the hackathon, I know how these things work". When they realized that we did, I think they were disappointed!

It worked out for us that time, but in most hackathons they don't have time to vet all the projects thoroughly, and if you do too much there will be a strong suspicion that you are cheating and just using it as a pseudo startup pitch and that can be held against you.

If you want to win, I think the best strategy for productive teams is to do more than one project since it's hard to know what any particular judge will like.

Anyway, to answer the question, the most impressive was probably a UI layout app (Mac) that synced the layout in real time with native iOS and Android apps using native widgets (this was before react native was popular). Where it was only a 24 hour hackathon and I ended up doing all 3 apps from scratch. I'm still pleased about getting horizontal and vertical snap alignment in! I'm sure the judges (reasonably) thought it was not from scratch but it can be fun to push once in a while, and people you hack with will know you did it.

It's best not to take it too seriously though. Rather than be impressive, it's probably better to be creative and do lots of stuff (and have fun too!).


We built a bunch of stuff at this non-profit, which would host us every Monday evening and let us hack away using their data and code. I call this 'recurring hackathons' and it was the best thing ever, because we got to plan longer term, we could, but didn't have to, attend regularly, there was collaboration with an in-house expert, a lot of knowledge sharing, ...

As for regular hackathons... a lot has been said in this thread already.


Can you share some examples? I'm also curious about hacking for non-profits


Emoji Domain registration: https://xn--i-7iq.ws

Not particularly popular on HackerNews for whatever reason, it was the type of thing where I finished my project at 2:00 AM and when I woke up at 6:00 am to get it together to do my demo, it was already getting tons of traffic.

It got writeups in Fortune, CNET, Lifehacker, and DailyMail over the course of the next week.



My team won a bank-sponsored hackathon and a $15,000 prize because 4 days before it started, I came across this Reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/Lightbulb/comments/43ljd4/a_virtual...

We built a tamagotchi-like app called Piggly that would let you feed and take care of it using money from your bank account. However, instead of treating it like an in-app purchase, the money goes from your chequing account into savings or investments (you decide).

The server is still up if anyone would like to try it: http://138.68.25.230/

You can Register with any 6 digit number.


Heh, you managed to swing my opinion a 180 in a single sentence.

>We built a tamagotchi-like app called Piggly that would let you feed and take care of it using money from your bank account.

"Wow, that's exploitative as hell. You won't get many players but there are a few who'd get addicted and basically drain their accounts. Immoral - but profitable!"

>However, instead of treating it like an in-app purchase, the money goes from your chequing account into savings or investments (you decide).

"Well, that's just awesome. It encourages people to save by turning it into a game. If they really end up needing that money they can always move it back."

Neat idea. I wonder how a bank would react to someone constantly pushing money between checkings and savings to care for their Piggly without actually saving as if they had a pet.


While at Mattermark, I made their Google Chrome extension in a two day Hackathon. That code was shipped and is right now their current chrome extension (it looks like there were minor changes since then). In all fairness, the designer had already done mockups so there wasn't a lot of back and forth on how it should work.

You can see an animated image of it here:

https://mattermark.com/browser/

I was a bit disappointed we shipped Hackathon code instead of doing it as part of normal product development. There were issues in the product development cycle and in reality, the end result was good so such is life.


https://github.com/mofarrell/p2pvc

We made a video chat app that ran in the terminal. Didn't win but went kinda viral. We later polished it up


We won first place at an IoT hackathon with a "Smart Locker" project. You could unlock the locker (via bluetooth) with your phone to check out a piece of equipment, and the app would show you who had which piece of equipment checked out.

I wrote up how I built the React Native app part in under 24 hours: https://nanohop.com/2017/04/25/how-we-built-a-react-native-a...

It was really neat seeing the hardware and software come together in only a day!


An augemented reality app for google glass to learn writing Chinese characters.

https://youtu.be/abWyiEY7P-A

This won us the first prize for a google glass hackathon.


Either Tron, a small one-off hacky script I made to automate the annoying process of cleaning up an infected Windows computer and which unexpectedly spiraled into a major open-source project:

https://www.reddit.com/r/TronScript

or...this bad boy:

https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/24e5xq/my_proudes...

Hideous but it worked.


I attended a machine learning hackathon and built a food-recognition model in caffe that eventually became a mobile food logging app. Discussed here over a year ago : https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11712751

Now that we're in the post SeeFood hotdog/nothotdog era, things have changed ;) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJsOA4Zl6Io


My friend and I built a safety bracelet for women which had a GPS, GPRS chip and an inbuilt pepperspray which when sprayed triggered an alarm to volunteers nearby through the app.


Two projects I can name with. 1. Whatsapp , facebook group finder. http://groupsone.com/ 2. Chrome extension for Indian railways tatkal booking website. http://www.spotjourney.com/

Just love them.


I never built anything crazy tech-focused at a hackathon, rather focus on a problem or product idea and flesh it out. This has worked well.

On that note, I would say that using Gimbal beacons to power a walking tour app was something that people responded really well to. From a tech side, I had to write some adapters for ionic that I had never done before. It worked surprisingly well


I made a compiler for IBM's Quantum Computer:https://github.com/vtomole/aubree. It'sā€‹ my most impressive hackathon project because it's the only one that I still work on post-hackathon.



Swipe right with your hoof.


I built a simple code search engine at a Solr conference - https://github.com/garysieling/solr-git


I organized in Azerbaijan CTF http://ctf.hackathonazerbaijan.org


In general hackathons are based on the idea of programming as producing objects/products/services (which all decay over time), rather than seeing programming as the act of codifying understanding of a formal (or informal) system into an executable representation (which its users continue updating to match their mental model for as long as they find it useful). The purpose of many hackathons being "build apps/widgets on top of our service for us!" presupposes the former view.

Looking at programming this way is harmful to all of us (because it encourages us to spend time building things designed to decay out from under their users, or that could be built as contributions to open-source libraries, but which wouldn't be a "startup idea", "product" or "mvp" anymore), and it would be nice if folks in this thread took a moment to step back from the things they've built (which are fun and useful, most of the time!) to think about working on ideas as contributions to open-source infrastructure libraries rather than standalone programs or services.

Programming toys is fun; programming universally accessible, near-permanent extensions to human capability is exhilarating.

I'd like to pre-empt the response of "people should be able to write apps and toys and services if they want!". Of course they can. I just want to make sure people have considered an alternative point of view, since it's easy to never step outside apps culture.


I really disagree. I've participated in a few hackathons and they are among the best ways to quickly accomplish and learn new things while feeling some of the joy we all ultimately want from programming. Being able in one day or weekend to go from scratch to a working prototype is just a great way to kick yourself into gear and remember what is possible in programming. I've participated in hackathons for embedded devices and other interesting projects that I'd not normally pursue, and to show to your friends after only a couple days some really cool gizmo you built from scratch that does something fun, well, that's awesome.

Beyond this, hackathons are also great at surrounding yourself by a ton of knowledge and talent to learn something very very quickly that you might struggle to learn on your own as quickly.

And finally -- a lot of devs work remotely or alone, and hackathons are excellent at developing skills of working in a team. And also just getting the in-person enjoyment of interacting with others who are interested in the same thing.

A single hackathon is only a day or two. What you get out of it compared to the time you spent is huge.


I disagree in that most hackathons aren't "hackathons". They're events where companies want you to use their product to "advertise" how awesome their product is to the community. Sure you learn things, but most of the shorter hackathons, you're learning very very shallow things that you didn't need to go to a hackathon to know.


> I really disagree. I've participated in a few hackathons and they are among the best ways to quickly accomplish and learn new things while feeling some of the joy we all ultimately want from programming. Being able in one day or weekend to go from scratch to a working prototype is just a great way to kick yourself into gear and remember what is possible in programming.

I guess it depends on your experience with hackathons. I entered my first one last year, and it totally ruined them for me. The winning team wrote no code at all and had a powerpoint presentation and mockups using images and image-maps. (I've complained about it more in past comments :P )

It seemed like we were actually punished for trying to code. I asked if we were allowed to set up backend servers on something like DO or AWS, instead of using our laptops for the demo. "Sure, of course that's allowed." Until I got to the venue and found out they were blocking SSH and most other non web-browsing traffic. I had to tether to my cell phone in order to deploy because according to them, it was the venue and not their problem.

I spent a good amount of time helping out people who were using the same framework as us and didn't understand it well (Ionic). So I made some friends and contacts that way. Unfortunately, they all seemed to be really shallow. I haven't heard back from most of them, and of the two I have, one asked me to design their squarespace site for a stupidly low price, and the other cold-called me sometime later asking if I was interested in writing content for their startup ("Oh, no, we're not looking for devs at the moment"). Of course once I declined their offer, no contact, no friendship.

I'd be down to try a different one (the "stupid idea" hackathons seem like the most fun and least competitive), but the only upcoming hackathon in my city is the same one from last year I'm currently complaining about...


None of your points really responds to the parent.

You can bootstrap or even finish a small FLOSS project during a hackathon and perhaps assemble a team that will keep contributing to it.


Yeah, my problem with hackathons is that too many people treat them like they are a beginning point of a startup.

Hackathons are to startups as martial arts tournaments are to the martial arts. You get good at the tournament by training for tournaments. But that's maybe 5% of what it takes to be really good at the overall practice. And in most cases, to get really good at the tournament, you have to do things that are only useful in tournaments and are actually anti-productive in real-life scenarios.

I still do weekend prototyping sessions, especially on my own, and there is a lot of value to that, so long as it's understood to be about learning. But from most of what I've seen about hackathons, that's not why people are being asked to come to them, and that's not why people are there.


Yes, the "make a product" and "COMPETITION" aspects of hackathons sadly have become widely dominating. I always liked the more low-key events more, where it was just an excuse to come together with others interested in the same space and do something.


You've cherry picked to say "worthless projects" vs. "exhilarating open source", yet someone could easily cherry pick "world changing projects" vs. "pointless open source." There is no more nobility, in my opinion, in another food delivery hackathon app vs. another 1 of 100 JavaScript frameworks that people don't need.


What, exactly, is a "universally accessible, near-permanent extension to human capability"?


Here's an example: you can get a computer to play back recorded music trivially. The code that makes that happen is almost entirely open-source; if you think about the shared (between, say, doing so on your laptop and an RPi) portions of the stack making that happen, you're looking at exactly the kind of code I'm describing: unassuming, portable open-source libraries that expose composable building-blocks for doing things.


Love your comment! Less hackathons, more open source summits. Build foundations, not garbage to be thrown away.


Is it one or the other? You can do both, right? Open source is great; as is building for the future. That is no reason you can't write something fun during a hackathon once in a while.

In my 20 years of professional coding, I've seen a lot more problems with people promoting code to shared status, attempting to build a foundation, before it's been used and before it's even remotely ready than I've ever seen with people throwing away good code. We're taught in CS school to always abstract and generalize, way too many people run with that and write code that abstracts away their specific problems, and build foundations that aren't sitting on the bedrock of solving a real problem. Almost all open source projects that start with the aim to build foundations are thrown away.

On the flip-side, one of the common goals of a hackathon is to build the best and most useful idea you can, quick and dirty, without getting mired in foundation building. The utility of that is to prove the idea is useful first, and if that succeeds for someone, what better starting place is there for building a foundation?


Not to be too contrarian, but I'm a 45 year old developer whose (basically) only code that is currently in production is what I've made in the last year. Code is generally eventually thrown away, whether it's garbage or not.


I suppose my thesis is hackathons don't promote end results with longevity, versus libraries and other foundational tools.

I'm not against throwing code away. I'm just not sold that the results of hackathons provide value.


I'm thinking that the 'hackathon' is an experience, not a production technique. It has value in the teamwork it creates, the enthusiasm it kindles and so on.


> Code is generally eventually thrown away

Some code is doing useful work after 30 years, some after 10. Hipster stuff is called "ancient" after 1 year. Most hackathon stuff is dropped after 2 days.


That's false... OP gives an example in another comment here.


Opinions are subjective.


Code is not generally thrown away. Look at all the code in your OS. It's not opinion unless you refuse to look at facts.





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