What’s the tech counterpart to marathons and triathlons? Hackathons. And earlier this month, New York University was host to a big one organized by hackNY, a nonprofit organization whose stated aim is “to federate the next generation of hackers for the New York innovation community.”
The Spring Hackathon—there’s also one in the fall—drew hundreds of students from universities around the country to “participate in collaborative and creative coding challenges in a 24-hour coding sprint.”
Doug Menuez, whose interest in technological innovation can be traced back to the years he spent documenting the digital revolution in Silicon Valley (as seen in his recent monograph Fearless Genius), documented the intense, exhausting, exhilarating day of hacking.
“I was there as a guest of HackNY and their partner Major League Hacking to shoot as part of my continuing Fearless Genius project (fearlessgenius.org), which documented the early days of Silicon Valley and now looks at where we are today and heading next with new technology,” says Doug.
“The kids broke into teams and hacked all day Saturday and through the night on their ideas to be ready to present to the judges on Sunday. The prizes are awarded based on the ‘awesomeness’ of the idea and execution of the code. The students got 90 seconds to present their hacks.”
It was a high-pressure situation, but also one that was full of possibility.
“I was personally inspired by the energy and wide-open creative mindset of these extremely diverse kids,” says Doug. “These are the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that will shape our future—attention must be paid.”
He continues, “In New York startup culture, I see a similar passion and idealism that infused Silicon Valley in the early days. They wanted to build tools to improve our lives. Money was secondary, at first. They had purpose. At this hackathon, the top prize was for the best idea to benefit society—very cool. So I’m hopeful these kids might help build a better future, and maybe even save the planet.”
See more of Doug’s Spring Hackathon photos here.