Hack Day

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File:Yahoo! Hack Day.jpg
Yahoo! Hack Day 2006
File:Hack day team.jpg
Organising team for Mashed08
One of the teams attending Mashed08
File:Chad and matthew.jpg
Chad Dickerson and Matthew Cashmore on stage at the London Hack Day in 2007

Hack Days were created by Chad Dickerson at Yahoo! For some time the events were run only by Yahoo! in the USA (internally and externally) before the term became a more generally accepted description of an event where developers, designers and people with ideas gather to build 'cool stuff' [1] - the events now run all over the world and are organised by Yahoo! as well as other organisations such as the BBC [2], Lonely Planet [3] and even government departments in Australia[4].

They appear with several different names - the words 'hack day' are not required for the event to be a 'hack day'. Yahoo! have started to differentiate their Hack Days by calling them 'Open Hack Day' whilst others use terms more appropriate to their specific area of interest such as 'Over The Air' [5] or more esoteric such as 'Mashed08' [6]

The 'days' are generally run over 48 hours. The first day starts with talks about practical matters (how to access datasets and APIs) as well more inspirational matters to encourage developers and designers to think beyond their normal areas of interest - in 2008 the BBC, Hack Day at Alexandra Palace (called Mashed08 [7])had talks from NASA[8] as well as the Yahoo! Developer Network [9] and backstage.bbc.co.uk[10]

The first internal Hack Day at Yahoo took place on December 8, 2005. The first public Hack Day took place between September 29-30th of 2006 at the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale, California and was followed by a performance by Beck.

The format of the Hack Day shares characteristics with several other types of event, including unconferences, MashPit, Foocamp and BarCamp, but generally follows this format:

Day 1

  • Registration
  • Talks
  • 24 hour hack starts

Day 2

  • 24 hour hack finishes
  • Presentation of hacks to audience of peers
  • Awarding of prizes

Entertainment is sometimes provided (see Beck at Yahoo! Hack Day in Sunnyvale, California and The Rumble Strips at the joint Yahoo!, BBC Hack Day in 2007) on the final evening or as a 'break' in the event on the Saturday night.

The format is incredibly flexible and is changed to suit the needs of the particular event. For example you can run 'Hack Days' as simple 'Hack Evenings' - a term that acknowledges the essence of the event, without having to be structured over a 48 hour period. [11]

Yahoo! has been the subject of complaint after it invited 'Hack Girls' to perform at it's Open Hack Day 2009 in Taipei [12]. Yahoo! posted a blog entry [13] saying sorry about the decision and for any offence it may have caused.


List of Hack Days

  • First Hack Day

The first public Hack Day took place between September 29-30th of 2006 at the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale, California and was followed by a performance by Beck.

  • Hack Day London

Hack Day London was held in June 2007 at North London's Alexandra Palace. A joint event between backstage.bbc.co.uk and the Yahoo! Developer Network for several hundred developers and designers, it was hit by lightning on the Saturday morning and followed by a performance by The Rumble Strips.

  • HackDay India

Hackday India was held on October 5 and 6th,2007 in Bangalore . The first Hackday in India featured about 100 hackers who took to Yahoo! APIs to create something using them in 24 hours. In the end, there were 31 submitted hacks and each team or single hacker had his/her 90 seconds of fame presenting the hack on three massive screens to the whole assembled audience and the 7 judges to declare the results of the hackday India 2007.

  • Over The Air 07 & 08

Over The Air was a Mobile Hack Day [14] -[15] - designed to mimic and celebrate the essence of Hack Day but concentrate efforts on hacking applications for Mobile Platforms. It ran at Imperial Collage on the 4th and 5th April 2008 and then again on 25th and 26th September 2009. The event was run as a partnership between betavine, Lonely Planet and Mobile Mondays.

  • Mashed08

Mashed08 [16] was the first large scale Hack Day run without Yahoo!. It was organised by backstage.bbc.co.uk and concentrated on creating a 'festival of hacking' [17]. Speakers were invited from Yahoo!, BBC as well as NASA and other interesting organisations. It ran at Alexandra Palace in North London on 21st and 22nd June 2008.

  • HackDay Brazil

Hackday Brazil was held on November 8 and 9th, 2008 in São Paulo.

  • University Hack Day

Yahoo has spread their hack day idea to universities around the country.[clarification needed] Hack U has been going on since 2006. That year Greg Schechter from UIUC won the national contest with his Slide Rule Widget. Check out the video of his winning presentation.

  • HackDay Russia

Hackday Russia was held on September 5 and 6 2009 in Saint-Petersburg.

  • GovHack

A government sponsored hack day run by webdirections in Australia.[18] The first event happened in Canberra at the Australian National University in partnership with CSIRO on the 30th and 31st October 2009

  • Melbourne Hack Day

A Hack Day run by Lonely Planet[19] in partnership wth GovHack. Run out of the Lonely Planet HQ in Footscray, Melbourne the event ran on the 7th and 8th November 2009.

  • Arup Hack Day 09

Design and engineering firm Arup held their first Hack Day, ArupHack09 on 20th and 21st November 2009. It was run as a global event with participants in Australia, UK and North America linked via video conference.

External links

See also

Further reading


  1. http://www.netmag.co.uk/zine/discover-interview/q-a-matthew-cashmore
  2. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/
  3. http://lplabs.com/2009/10/25/lp-hack-day-and-govhack-join-forces/
  4. http://govhack.org/
  5. http://overtheair.org/blog/
  6. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/
  7. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/
  8. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/sessions/#s255
  9. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/sessions/#s252
  10. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/sessions/#s256
  11. http://sites.google.com/site/gdevelopereventsyd/mashup-australia-hacknight
  12. http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/yahoo-apologises-for-lap-dance-at-hack-event-20091021-h7sr.html?comments=14
  13. http://developer.yahoo.net/blog/archives/2009/10/taiwan_ohd_apology.html
  14. http://overtheair.backnetwork.com/
  15. http://overtheair09.backnetwork.com/
  16. http://mashed08.backnetwork.com/
  17. http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jun/26/hacking.mashed08
  18. http://govhack.org/
  19. http://lplabs.com/melbournehack
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