I Did a Hackathon

Jeff – London Hackathon 2018

Hackathons are like a 5k race. Usually running is a solitary experience, but there’s something special about signing up for and attending a 5k. It isn’t the distance that is a challenge, but the act of running together in community that’s the draw.

A hackathon is like a 5k in that coding is usually a solitary task. Like a 5k, the draw of a hackathon is the unique community and compressed amount of time that makes them so interesting. Like for most runners of a 5k race, it isn’t really about winning, but more about the experience.

I just returned from London where I and a friend attended the third-annual Kingdom Code BUILD (kingdomcode.uk/build, #KCBUILD18). This was my third time attending this annual hackathon in London and I really enjoyed the entire process.

There were two challenges given to this hackathon, and awards (i.e. coffee cups) were given to the teams that had the best solution to the challenge. The first challenge was given by Stewardship: “How can we use technology to inspire and enable greater generosity in the Christian community?” The second – and the challenge we set about to solve – was commissioned by the Bible Society: “How can digital tools help increase appetite for and engagement with the Bible in the 21st century?” God has been using every advancement in communication technology since the invention of pen on papyrus, so why not through apps on smartphones?

More than 20 people had one minute to “pitch” their idea for answering one of these questions. Afterward, everyone voted with their feet by joining the idea they resonated with the most and that needed their skills the most.

After considering a few of these ideas, I landed on a project called Passion Play. The idea pitched was to engage people in God’s Word in real time with activities revolving around the final week of Jesus’ ministry. The pitch wasn’t super detailed, so we spent a lot of time trying to hammer out the details of what the final product might look like. After working together for 19 hours we were able to show a mock-up of the software at the awards dinner finale.

While we didn’t win any of the awards, I do believe the project has merit and would like to continue working on it. I would especially like to run with an idea I had during our discussions that pared with another idea I’d been kicking around already. I’m excited to explore what that might look like and maybe I’ll flesh it out and present it as a project next year!

For now, the day after, I’m so tired I feel like I ran a 5k, but it’s a good tired. I was able to put in practice things God has been teaching me both personally as well as professionally. All around, I’m glad I went and hope I can go again in 2019!