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Hackathons on the Rise


Participants hacking during the MHacks Hackathon 2013 in Ann Arbor, MI.

Starting from just a handful of events in 2010, a record 1,500 hackathons are planned around the world this year.

Credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering Communications & Marketing

This year a record 1,500 hackathons are planned around the world, up from just a handful in 2010.

Although Yahoo is recognized as holding the first official hackathon in 2005, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gets credit for helping broaden the definitions by urging his staff to "hack" by "building something quickly or testing the boundaries of what can be done." For example, a new Facebook option that gives users more than 50 ways to identify their gender beyond male and female was conceived during a company hackathon four months ago.

As hackathons have become more popular, a set of rules has come together. Teams are usually comprised up of a small number of people, and although designs, ideas, and even mock-ups can be worked on in advance, everyone starts writing code at the same time. In addition, teams own whatever they create.

Similar to the tech industry itself, hackathon participants are mostly men, but some organizers are trying to change that. The AT&T Developer Summit hackathon had an unusually high number of female participants after organizers promised an extra $10,000 to any team with a majority of women.

From Associated Press
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