ABSTRACT

Software developers have long held community events in which they build code and discuss issues or bugs they encounter. The open source community rst coined the term ‘hackathon’ for an event held on 4 June 1999 when developers converged on Calgary, Canada, to work on Internet identity and security protocols (OpenBSD n.d.). In its early stage, and within the OpenBSD community, attending hackathons had both technological and symbolic signicance. Although participation was not on a paid-for basis, attendance at the events was by invitation only, targeting those with demonstrated abilities; these were not ‘developer training events’. Hackathons have since diversied and spread beyond elite tech communities. Meyer and Ermoshina (2013: 3) categorise hackathons into three types: ‘issue oriented’, centred around solving specic real-world problems; ‘tech oriented’, focused on developing prototype systems; and ‘data oriented’, wherein datasets are supplied by the organisers. The value of the events is more than technological and includes building ‘new alliances and partnerships, discovering and developing new ideas and approaches to problems, and providing the muscle needed to make the new ideas and approaches a reality’ (Popyack 2014: 40). From a personal perspective, attending a hackathon can provide a route into a new community, lead to potential new employment or a start-up enterprise, enhance skills and build friendships.