1:30 AM - After two-thirds had gone to bed or given up
24 Hours of Le Google
I would imagine it's similar for most budding developers. Their first endurance hackathon is an eye opening experience into the world of professional software development. It's more a la Formula 1 than nerds (me included) lapping between their computers, pizza slices and empty Red Bull cans, as mainstream media or even my own pre-hackathon imagination would depict. So what might you expect?
Off to the RacesEnter Galvanize Denver, the venue of 24 Hours of Le Google (GovDev Hackathon), registration booths manned with pre-printed name tags, free Google swag (t-shirts and water bottles), staff in matching orange shirts, Google colored race banners streaming the ceiling, catered breakfast, and in the main room... the horse and pony show.
Teams arrived with matching computer terminals, small tables packed with 27 inch Apple iMac's paired with 27 inch Apple external displays. The most impressive team having four such stations all packed into a small table. Many teams were split into 'pit' duties, the UX guy, the backend guy, the frontend guy, the mobile guy, the project manager ('guy' in the general, non-pejorative or exclusionary sense... some of these 'guys' were gals). The air of competition was apparent. No one was too friendly or too talkative, they were all there to win.
Leading up to 'go time', there was a parade of who's who in state tech and Google big-wigs. Talks from the CEO of this, the CIO of that, and the COO of the other, all sharing their ideas of why this was an important race and why what we were doing was furthering private citizen/sector involvement in making government more efficient. They sold me, I was excited to be part of it (and still am). After the talks came the challenges: take this data, make it public and understandable to the layman; take these horrible relics of bureaucracy (repetitive paper forms), digitize and streamline them so that they're easy to complete on a mobile device and pass the completed product to all affected departments to streamline coordination; and finally, take this paper-based donation and dissemination program, make it mobile and seamless. The last two challenges having to do with disaster response and preparedness, the first challenge dealing with government expenditures and transparency.