Apr 12, 2012

Hackathons and Open Source Invade the Real World

In the past few days I've seen a few things happen that demonstrate that what were once tech concepts or principles have seeped into non-Internet world, and are being applied in places maybe they were not originally intended, but to great effect.

First, I serendipitously met a woman who runs major marketing programs at Facebook who walked me through an amazing internal presentation they have about applying the principles behind hackathons (try a lot of ideas, solve a problem, iterate fast, be creative, be social, ship, etc.) to solve non-product problems. She showed me pictures of an office area - some group at Facebook was doubling in size and instead of lobbying internally for more space they basically had an internal hackathon and hacked a solution to their existing space - coming up with an idea and then turning a small square space into a bi-level loft area, thus doubling the size of their area and making it much more awesome.

Then I saw this from the record label Ghostly International - they are starting to open up their processes for choosing artwork for their records - writing essays and taking comments about how and why they do it, while they do it. Basically open sourcing and making transparent what was once a closed and opaque process.

Neither of these examples are world-changing, but that's not the point. They are small and simple and illustrations of ideas founded on openness, experimentation, networks - that were originally intended for and applied to the writing of software. But have now seeped into the world at large. And that's the big deal.

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