code for freedom

27-28 september, gdansk

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What a Good Hackathon Project Should Have (Practical Checklist)




A practical checklist for a civic hackathone:

During the Code for Freedom every participant will have about 16 hours of effective work (unless, of course, you’re an android, zombie, or both and you neither need to sleep nor eat).

This is quite a short period of time . Use your time wisely. We’ve prepared a short checklist (below) of what a good project should have in order to succeed. We’ve suggested the time needed for every stage of the process (of course, it’s up to you to manage your time).

  1. Prepare. Think of the tools, datasets, software you might need before the hackathon. Learning about the technologies needed for your project – is a good homework to do. Browsing Internet during the hackathon looking for the solution – isn’t necessarily the best use of time ;)

  2. Talk. As soon as you get to the Hackathon, don’t dive into coding. Talk first. You will need good understanding of the problem, which the your project aims to solve. Try choosing small problems. [30-60 min]

  3. Talk more. You will also need good understanding of the target audience. Who will be using your project? Try creating a persona (a sterotypical user, model of a person, ideal example, e.g. John Smith, 45-year old clerk with a family and 10 years of credit to pay off) for whom you’ll be creating your project. Refer to this imaginative persona when making a prototype. If you think you can manage several use-cases try developing several personas. [30-60 min]

  4. Develop a prototype first.  In the beginning, it’s easier to create a prototype than code. You can use sheets of paper, PowerPoint, or other specialized tools for that. [5-6 hours]

  5. Then Develop Minimum Viable Product (MVP). After you and your colleagues agree on the prototype, start coding. Coding is a time consuming project, and you know that. Therefore, code a MVP – something that resembles the function you plan to develop. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it has to solve the problem you’ve explored in pt.2. If you don’t code yourself, you can think of promotion or other use-cases or make a nice presentation. [10-12 hours]

  6. Create a presentation of your project. Prepare 5 minute presentation. Ideally, it’d be great if you could record a promo-video or an animated infographics (try using or about your project – it is fun to watch such videos [1 hour]

  7. Keep your files organized. Upload the MVP to the code repository (GitHub or BittBucket), send the organizers the link to it and the powerpoint presentation; save your prototype – save it for your grandkids ;)

Good luck and see you at the Code for Freedom!

Author: Alexey Sidorenko – the director of the Russia-focused project “Teplitsa. Technologies for Social Good,” public education project aimed at developing cooperation between the non-profit sector and IT-specialists.

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