Day 1 was a lot of fun, most of the night was split into presentations and then meeting and greeting people to learn about their skills and project ideas.
I ended up looking for people and projects that had the following criteria:
- Nice people to work with
- Web developers
- Project with a contained scope
- More details under the cut!
Let me explain…
Nice People: A first impression won’t tell you everything, of course, but it’s the only shot you have at making a decision about people to work with. Fortunately, everyone was really nice, so this wasn’t a problem. Beyond that, something more important is the demeanor of the people, do they seem like people that would have compatible working styles, people that can talk out a decision instead of try to force their view? Did they seem to take ownership of ideas (and, perhaps, even too much ownership)?
Web developers: I’m a web developer, so I need to find other people to complement my skill set. Not only that, but I want to find more people I can talk about development with and perhaps be friends with after the event ends.
Contained Scope: I don’t want to focus on winning the hackathon, but I also don’t want to work on a project that, even from the beginning, feels like it’s too big to accomplish (it’s a bit demotivating and does not help group morale).
The people with developer experience tended to be more conservative with their project ideas, people without developer experience (and more business-related backgrounds) tended to have ideas much grander in scale and broader in scope. This can probably be attributed to developers having a better sense of what the technology “can and cannot” do, having personally worked on it. In the context of a hackathon, I much prefer the idea from developers because it avoids the problem of scope mentioned above.