I attended the second annual Red Hot Hack (hosted by Red Wing Ignite) over the weekend. They really have a nice model for a rural hack. (They have received support from the Blandin Foundation.0 There was a good mix of locals, folks from the Twin Cities and folks from neighboring towns; people all of ages; and people of all skills, including some who had been to a hack (some who attended the Red Hot Hack last year) and some newbies.
We started with some idea brainstorming. (Part of the group had met a week earlier to start the ideation.) People voted on projects. People formed teams. And the projects began!
The event lasted from 8:30 on Saturday until noon on Sunday. We enjoyed meals together, played a little trivia, some of us met up at the bar – but really people fleshed out their ideas. There were a few judges around who also served as mentors. They were very generous with their time. My team spoke with one about creating a pitch and another about the technical specifications and potential costs for coding. It was very helpful.
It is a very informal setting. The mood is very collegial. There are folks who clearly are more comfortable coding than talking – and they get their opportunity shine. And there are others who are serious coders but have a passion about an idea that helps them leapfrog over any reticence to introduce their ideas. And still others are naturally great communicators. People form networks that will lead to future collaboration. Connections are made among participants and between participants and the community. And people learn about tools.
I heard one 20-something say he’d never heard of Meetup. I noticed a few younger folks on Twitter for the first time. Kids take to technology but I think there’s a misconception that they know everything. They don’t because the business world is new to them and business applications to even familiar tools is new. This is a great chance to see what folks in the workforce are using. And on the flip side, I saw folks out of their 20s learn about RSS feeds and GitHub and other tools too. And I noted that at least one attendee from last year mentioned that she’s going to learn to code (higher ed) now.
It’s a fun weekend that leads to projects that get momentum but also a great chance for disparate folks to learn from each other on all levels. I think it can really be a gamer changer in terms of learning what else is out there, what appeals to you and what tools folks are using to get there.
Here’s a very brief outline (think borrowed Tweets) of the ideas fleshed out over the weekend:
- Idea 1: Social Media Gaming – promote local businesses online with friendly competition.
- Idea 2: Paid online video help: Show Me Help Me
- Idea 3: computer-based machine-learning for assessing moles (melanoma) diagnosis
- Idea 4: Touricana web & mobile demo app for potential tourists to get a sneak peek before arriving
- Idea 5: unified community calendar open to all events and customized user experience
- Idea 6: accelerating the process of applying for medical assistance
- Idea 7: promote local buying with centralized ecommerce site for local pickup or delivery