Scott: It is called a hackathon, where innovative people put their minds together to solve problems or come up with new ideas. This one took place at the headquarters for Edmunds.com. Three intense days of brainstorming to find a better way to buy a car.
Vinny Pujji: What do you hate about buying cars, new or used?
Scott: At twenty years old, Vinny Pujji was one of the youngest but most experienced hackers. This event was his third.
Vinny: Having someone who’s completely not related to your industry, not related to your company, come in and say, “well this is the problem I’m having and that other consumers are having and I’m going to tackle it my way.” It’s, you know, it’s the definition of originality.
Scott: At Facebook, company-wide hacks have led to some key developments: the Like button, the chat function and timeline, which organizes posts and pictures chronologically.
Pedram Keyani: There’s a hundred ideas that people have locked in their heads. Ninety-nine of them aren’t good. And the only way you can get to that good one is by going through all those bad ones.
Scott: Sessions like these go to show that intense brainstorming can pay off.
At Hill Holiday’s TVnext Hack in Boston last week, the youngest and sole female competitor, 17-year-old Jennie Lamere, took home the top prize.
Announcer: The winner of our TVnext Hack of $2,500… Jennie, come on up!
Scott: Jennie developed software for people who don’t want Twitter to ruin the plot lines of TV shows and movies.
Jennie: So, I created this Twitter plug-in, where you type in the tags of the TV show you’re watching and you hit record. When you do this, all of the tweets about the show are then blocked out and you can’t read what they say. When you’re ready to watch the show, you just hit stop, and then play. And all those tweets will come up.
Scott: Even the White House held a hackathon to improve its website.
Back at Edmunds, the winning teams got cash.
Scott: One group developed an app that brings car buyers together for group discounts.
Participant: I am in shock right now! I’m totally blown away!
Participant: Everybody who did this today would say it was worthwhile.
Scott: Now, it is all about turning those ideas into profits.
- How would you describe a hackathon?
- Are there any specific issues or challenges you think could be helped or supported by a hackathon?