If there’s one challenge that unites all of Go Code Colorado’s organizers, it’s this: Overcoming the perception that we’re a hackathon.
We get it. There’s a model in everyone’s mind about civic engagement and challenges that involve app development. (And yeah, having Code in our name trips certain preconceived notions).
Let us be clear. We are not a hackathon. Never wanted to be, never claimed to be.
There are several reasons for our desire to reinvent the civic engagement model, reasons why we didn’t think existing models weren’t good enough. A blog post from a Chicago dev shop came across our feed once, and resonated with us because it articulates a solution to a better hackathon model by looking at a different one in a totally different space: The Habitat of Humanity model.
The author outlines several dimensions to Habitat’s approach, dimensions we’ve worked to bring to the Go Code Colorado model of civic engagement. One dimension really stands out and sounds the most like our model is Commit to delivery.
The post’s author rightly observes that “Habitat doesn’t say “we’ll hold a hammerathon once-a-month and see what we get.” They commit to building a finished house.” Go Code Colorado is about encouraging sustained results, projects that can continue beyond the challenge as side projects for motivated professionals. Three ways we do this:
- Creating a longer period of engagement (a challenge weekend, a mentor weekend, and a final event) to encourage deeper development.
- Encouraging entrepreneurs to join developers so each can be great at what they do well
- Judging the ideas on technical and business savviness.
Go Code Colorado isn’t a perfect model. But we’re actively working to find a better way to encourage innovation, build a meaningful government /private sector bridge, and show the world why an open data environment is good for business.
Year three is another step in that direction.