An Armenian Hackathon: the inside perspective

Oct 13, 2015

UNDP team leading the brainstorming

Last week saw an array of tech experts, start-up investors, budding entrepreneurs, and anyone with an interest in the digital world descend upon Yerevan for the annual Digitech expo, a three-day high-tech, high-tempo event showcasing some of the world’s biggest ICT innovations.

Keen not to miss out on such a concentration of bright young minds, Kolba Lab, UNDP in Armenia’s innovation unit, teamed up with the good folk at #createtogether and PicsArt to hold a 15-hour hackathon — a marathon coding event bringing together like-minded hackers and non-hackers alike — intended to transform ideas into reality via mobile and web apps, services and products!

The hackathon format was actually established back in the 1980s, before most of our hackers were even born — even before the birth of the Internet (some of our younger readers may be astounded to learn that such a time existed!) Back then the basic premise of a hackathon was to save time. By bringing together techies to compartmentalise the workload required for different parts of code, a job that would ordinarily take two or three months could be done in a fraction of that time.

Today hackathons are everywhere, as a simple search through Medium demonstrates. They’re no longer simply a useful format for bringing life to a digital application in a short space of time, they’ve become a platform for a range of individuals to share ideas, build partnerships, network, receive feedback, and more. For those like us in the development business, this concentration of citizen agency, creativity, and intellectual and skills-based interconnectivity is like gold dust.

Unsurprisingly, a good hackathon should mimic the pace of a marathon (not a sprint!) Our event kicked of at the unusual time of one o’clock in the morning, continuing for 15 hours before culminating in a pitching and awards session.

See the how the whole event unfolded here!


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