This weekend I attended my first hackathon, held at First Round Capital. Me, and bunch of other women, came together to pitch ideas and find projects to work on.
Originally, I’d been nervous, having procrastinated for a week in fear that I wouldn’t have anything to do or contribute. Without hard coding skills, and no formal design expertise, I worried that there just wasn’t a lot I could bring to the table. My friend assured me that not only did I not need those skills, but I may even learn new ones! Although skeptical, I arrived late the first night, and soon after, people began pitching their ideas.
Unlike Philly Start-Up Weekend last year, there weren’t any rapid fire pitches and maybe 5 or 6 people ultimately had ideas they wanted to work on. I knew beforehand that I wanted to make a game when lo and behold, Amanda Lange from Microsoft, offered an opportunity to do JUST that. Along with 5 or 6 other women, I crowded around Amanda’s table, eager to participate.
I’ll have to admit – a lot of my own shit came up: feeling irritated, not connecting with others, feeling defensive over an opportunity to work on this game. I know that I have a lot of issues surrounding scarcity, which definitely impacts the way I view [group] work, tech and opportunities. Ultimately, I feel that there’s not enough to go around, which is an antithesis to what hacking is about.
On the flip side, I noticed something particular about myself: my willingness to speak up about my politics, to contribute my ideas, to ask questions, to feel comfortable. I love being at tech events, and seeing faces I hadn’t glimpsed in ages due to my job and lingering fears around not having any tech skills.
Being at LadyHacks brought out the best in me while also reminding me of the trauma I carry around. Writing this now, it makes me think of how being in the field you’re supposed to be in will energize and rejuvenate you, while also making you deal with your own shit.
Anyway – by the end of the first night, we’d decided: a video game in a space setting where you enter in various lines of code to get to the next level with increasing difficulty. Aimed at pretty much everyone, the game is intended to just be a fun way to practice simple code*.
Final conclusion: hackathons. are. addictive!
Now that I’ve gotten my feet wet – I’m definitely ready for more. Parts of it were definitely exhausting (ie: being up since 8am) but overall, I’d like to give it another go, and work on more projects!
*Disclaimer:The design for the background of the game was snagged off the internet. We kept some parts of it, but really edited a huge chunk of it out to make room for our stuff.