The Internet is full of people extolling the virtues of civic hacking and people criticizing civic hackers for building new things instead of connecting people to existing resources.
That’s all true, but there’s something more to hackathons—something beyond the actual projects.
It’s easy to take technology for granted and forget its purpose when you’re steeped in it every day. But technology isn’t about algorithms, frameworks, or finding the perfect text editor. It’s about meeting people where they are—wherever that is—and helping them do their best work, be their most creative, or maybe just get their stuff done faster and get on with life.
When a group of people comes together in a shared time and space to solve problems, an employee of a three-person non-profit learns about Google forms and saves hours of data entry. A community organizer changes the copy on her website for the first time. A group of kids learns that they have the power to make movies.
Say what you want about hackathons, but they’re both a catalyst of technology and a reminder of its true value.