Last weekend, was the 4th Random Hacks of Kindness in Toronto, and the 5th around the world! Kathryn and I went to RHoKTO as “idea hackers” to work on a project called WorldVUZE. WorldVUZE is a platform connecting students across the world from their classrooms to gain perspectives and stories beyond their assumptions. It is sort of like a hybrid of Facebook and Google Docs with searchable data and added security to be used in the education system.
As opposed to Global Service Jam, where all the ideas came from the participants on Friday. At RHoKTO, all the project ideas had been pre-pitched and approved by the committee before we arrived on Friday night. This meant that someone carried the ownership of the idea and held a vision of where they wanted it to go. As “Idea Hackers” we got to choose which project we wanted to work on and hoped that we had enough developers to really push the idea forward.
Our WorldVUZE team at RHoKTO ended up being, 11 strong – 2 from the organization, us 2 idea hackers, and 7 developers! I have never been to a technology based hack-a-thon like this before, so I was blown away by the commitment that the developers had. They worked through dinner and beers on Saturday and on Sunday by the presentation, they were disappointed they didn’t have more time to complete more.
My favourite part of the weekend, was watching the design and collaboration process unfold. As an idea hacker, I could only translate the vision so much, it was really up to the organization to try and convey what they wanted to the developers. I have seen this process not work out well and certainly not as quickly or seamlessly as this time. I wish there was a video of it, so that I could clearly map out how it worked and how quickly. There was a vision, an inquiry session, clarification, digestion, a check in of understanding, a consensus and then a distribution of skills before it was off to the races. From then on, we were mostly hands off for the coding part and could work on developing a business strategy and pitch coaching.
The projects left with so much ammunition for how to move forward, it is up to them to take that positive momentum and keep it going. Overall, it was a brain drain, but in the best way.