Day 1 - What the hack?


My name is Chelsea and #HackFoW is my first hackathon. I'm new to the world of data, hacking and coding and So first I want to give Datafest Ottawa a big thank you for letting me join in on this weekend adventure to get to know more about just what is involved in a hackathon.

What's a hackathon?

For those of you who are new to this, like me: hackathon is a port-manteau (my favourite term!) - a mash of the words hack (the good kind: work on solving a problem in a tech way) and marathon (because of the length of the event - usually time-boxed, so a set start and end which is usually but not always Friday evening to Sunday afternoon and all of the time in between). 

Day 1 Blast-off

Some things that I was expecting from the first night that delivered in droves: high energy and excitement, lots of conversation, and enthusiasm for the cause (in this case looking at future employment trends in Canada). Hackers traveled in from hundreds of kilometres away to attend this event and they were excited to meet new people and learn more about the projects. The energy in the room was infectious. I was also happy to see such a range of voices and ideas - from the pitches to the subject experts to the data enthusiasts themselves, the space felt inclusive and diverse. 

Some things I didn't expect: everyone is so friendly! I'm a natural introvert and am always hesitant about any event that involves 'networking' in any form. Here I felt included and welcomed from the start. Everyone I talked to was excited and passionate, not only about hacking but about innovative ways to look at the future of work in Canada. 

I was also impressed by the food. That may be a weird thing to focus on, but I've heard that hackathons are all about pizza and red bull but was happy to see fruit and vegetables and a variety of plates of food that were delicious. And yes, there was definitely coffee! 

The pitches were a definite highlight. Having the 15 groups who proposed the chosen weekend projects here to pitch them in person was a really great way to start. The passion people felt about their projects was palpable. Again, the enthusiasm! 

Once pitches were done, hackers had the chance to shop around a bit. The projects and their creators were all in different areas around the space and the data enthusiasts could move freely around to ask more questions and hear more details about what the project creator envisioned for the solution. 

Once everyone had a chance to visit the potential projects, teams began to assemble and got down to work. In all, 9 projects were chosen and teams worked late into the night (some were bouncing ideas back and forth on Slack until 4am!). 

What's next?

Now it's the morning of day 2 and teams are slowly reassembling here in the space. Looking forward to hearing more about where teams are at and why the groups chose the projects they did. 

Chelsea Robinson-Sharman, #HackFoW Volunteer