CO:hack at theCO


Jackson will see it’s first ever Hackathon starting in January, and theCO is excited to host it. But you may be thinking, what is a Hackathon? A Hackathon is pulled together from the words “hack” and “marathon” and typically last several days while people, in this case developers, designers, entrepreneurs, and engineers, meet to collaborate on computer programming. This Hackathon will be a weekend event, lasting from Friday, January 18th at 6pm to Saturday, January 19th to 7:30pm with the theme being “It’s Always Been Done This Way” in an effort to encourage hackers to use their ingenuity and creativity to come up with new and improved tech solutions to old problems.

Lisa Garner, Executive Director of theCO, says “Hackathons not only exercise problem solving skills-- they workout the "just do it" muscle. You know-- the part of us that works hard to put something out there, to see if it can work. Lots of folks have ideas but hackathons encourage action.”

Since lots of people have ideas, theCO decided to support hackers in creating teams to best accomplish the task they are given. By working with other people in an attempt to solve a problem, you are not only developing software, but also community. Although forming a team is suggested, hackers are welcome to come solo and find teammates in the crowd, or try and win the competition individually!

Chance Smith, an Innovation Strategist at Sodium Halogen and also a three-time winner of a Hackathon out of Nashville called Code for the Kingdom, says that he has hacked with teams as big as 15 people. “I just love the experience of being with people you don’t know, and you don’t know their skill sets, and then teaming up and trying to figure that out. You get to be apart of teams with people who may know something you don’t know and then you get to join in and and figure out how to do it together. I love that intensity and craziness.” Chance says there have been Hackathons where he was awake for 50 to 60 hours, which led to him being dubbed “The Robot.” But Chance says he is able to fight through the sleep deprivation by always looking for something new to learn. “ I really lean on people who come in with ideas. We struggle a lot on coming up with our own ideas and flourishing just by ourselves, and so the team environment really lends itself to be a cool project.”

You don’t have to know how to code to be on a Hackathon team either. Teams are always looking for designers, writers, creators, and more! Though you do have to be 16 to participate, there are multiple skills that can be advantageous to a team, and anyone is welcome to try their hand at it no matter how many, or how few Hackathons you have been a part of.

Garner says “Community over competition is always a win-- of course there is a prize for the winning team at our event, but we'll do all we can to downplay that so that attendees can learn and help each other-- no matter what team they're on.”


So, now you may be interested, but spending that many hours hacking seems like a long time! But it’s actually fairly quick in terms of web development. Churning out a whole website or project in such a short amount of time can be a bit of a challenge. Garner says it best, “We've got a lot of talented folks in West TN and the potential to bring a bunch of them together for a weekend event like this makes me giddy -- the timeframe it a bit of an intense commitment for some, but it's also just one weekend and a lot of cool tech could come out of it.”

Even though CO:hack is demanding, theCO will be providing food, brainstorming supplies, communication methods like Slack, and most importantly there will be couches for hackers to rest their active minds. You only need to bring a laptop and your best ideas, and you might just win $500!

Be sure to sign up, register your teams, and rest up for Hackathon!

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