#GovHack Melbourne: Not a Hackathon? #hackathon #melbourne

Hi David,

This is an open letter, posted to social media.

I’m a little concerned by your statement (in your e-mail dated 29 May 2013) that it “is the idea that matters more than the code.”

Does this mean it’s possible that teams that implement nothing (process no data nor write any code) over the weekend could receive the majority of — or all of — the recognition?

I believe that would seriously diverge from the overall ethos of GovHack, and of ‘hackathons’ in general, wouldn’t it? I realise that GovHack Melbourne is trying to be “different” with its “beautiful data” theme, but I really would like some assurances that ‘code’ (as you put it) is going to play a significant part in the decisions regarding the recognition of projects, and not be completely discounted in favour of wholly unimplemented proposals. Otherwise I would have serious reservations about attending the event, and I will strongly encourage software developers to ‘give it a miss’, and maybe attend RHoK instead.

Now, I do realise that there will likely be teams in attendance without developers, and that you want to cater to these. I suggest that those teams be encouraged to disband and find teams that do have developers — not that they be given the chance to take significant opportunity away from those developers that do attend! I would put to you that by doing so, you only serve to risk alienating developers further, and will simply end up with less of them attending next year.

Indeed, I’ve recently conducted surveys of users on developer-centric sites such as Slashdot that heavily indicated the majority of respondents would not attend / continue to attend ‘hackathon’ events that did not consider their work as relevant in the awarding of recognition. This is a fairly obvious conclusion — who wants to bust their arse writing code for the better part of two days only to have ‘projects’ that exhibit no technical prowess take all the glory? Further, by suggesting that implementation is of little consequence — an afterthought that can be ‘dealt with later’ — you belittle their talent. Who wants to hang around for that?

On behalf of all the developers that might attend GovHack Melbourne 2013, I would like a formal and public assurance that ‘code’ WILL ‘matter’ at least as much as the ‘idea’, that substance will be no less equal than form, that implementation will not be trumped by mere speculation.

Thank you,
Melody Ayres-Griffiths.

On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 5:59 AM, David F. Flanders <david.flanders@ands.org.au> wrote:
T-minus 2 days, 12 hours and 10 minutes until all the #GovHack prizes are announced this Friday night! <eek!>

If you have any last minute questions please twitter either myself, Flanders (@DFFlanders) or Fiona (@FCTweedie) [1].

We’ve already had a couple of questions which we’ve posted here:


But, how do I win?

As with previous GovHack winners it is the idea that matters more than the code, that’s why we’ve made sure to invite more than just developers this year. Developers we love dearly[2]! – but we want developers to partner with designers, storytellers, researchers, cartographers, artists, journalists, videographers and anyone else who can help make data come alive. In short, we’d love to see simple data, beautifully expressed- if you’ve not seen this example you really must:

Or see this winning example from last years GovHack:


The team you’ll need to win?

Friday night will not only be the announcement of all the prizes on offer, but will also be your opportunity to meet new people with the creative skills you’ll need on your team to win. So come ready, and come eager – and don’t be late! 6pm Friday night, see you there!

Kind Regards,

David & Fiona
(Event Coordinators)

[1]= email questions if you must 🙂 david.flanders@ands.org.au [2]= Developers: we complied a bunch of tools for you in this ‘developer pack’ please do have a look as you’ll be surprised by this great resource: http://www.govhack.org/howto/

#GovHack Melbourne: Not a Hackathon? #hackathon #melbourne

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