What Really Happens at a Codathon

Also referred to as a hackathon, if you were to drop into an ongoing session of a codathon you’d probably bear witness to something a lot different to what Hollywood depicts one to be. Here’s what you can expect to see happening at a codathon:

What is a codathon?

For those who don’t know, a codathon or hackathon is simply an “event” which is set aside for coders, programmers, developers, designers, etc, to come together in one venue and either work on a common project or on each of their own projects. So that is indeed what you can expect to find – a bunch of geeks each armed with their laptops and hacking away.

“Normal” typing

I suppose I’m falling into the discussion from this particular point of view because of what is really a misconception created around what hackers really are thanks to the world of television and Hollywood. In the movies or in one of the many addictive television series a lot of us like to binge on, if there is a hacker he or she is often depicted as some genius prodigy who has the ability to break into some or other “mainframe” or secure networks used by the banks, the police, etc. That’s not the case in reality.

Well a hacker might be able to do that in reality, but it’s nowhere near in the fashion depicted on the T.V. screens. For one it’s technically incorrect to refer to a malicious cyber criminal (or “hacktivist” in some cases) as a hacker. These malicious internet bandits are referred to as crackers and that’s the correct term.

On the other hand a hacker is just someone who “hacks” solutions together or builds stuff using digital tools such as one or more of the many programming languages in existence.

So you won’t find crackers trying to break into some banking digital infrastructure, often depicted by some rapid typing which has some green text rather shadily falling down with a console user interface in the background!

What you’ll rather find is just some normal typing, if there is any distinguishable continuous typing going on at all. After all, a programmer spends a lot of their time actually planning and mapping out their programmes, with the typing coming in little drips and drabs and definitely not as fast as is depicted on T.V.

Beanbags, coffee, energy drinks, and BIG DREAMS!

Coders who attend codathons really just do so to feed off each others’ energy, which is why most of them are probably working on their own projects. In addition to all the coffee and energy drinks spilled over the beanbags, you might find something like what would otherwise make for the ideal gift baskets for guys, with the delicious contents snacked on and shared amongst everybody in attendance.

This in itself is perhaps one of many “hacks” to be witnessed or even learnt from when one is given the chance to peek into what really goes on at a typical hackathon. People are indeed working, but it’s all about the motivation extracted from seeing your peers going at it.

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