Blog

How We Run Hackathons at AddThis [2015 Q3 Hackathon Roundup]

web-visualization-work

Last Thursday, we held our second hackathon of the year. Employees gathered at the AddThis HQ in Virginia for 24-hours of hacking fun. From conference room construction to manipulating web browsers with music, there were tons of impressive projects, many of which were completed by Friday morning. Here’s a look at some of the action!

Thursday Morning Kickoff

AddThis CTO Matt Abrams kicked off the day with a reminder about hackathon survival rules, which start with having fun, challenging yourself, and working with others. He also stressed not being afraid to fail, especially if you learn something valuable along the way.

addthis-hackathon-kickoff

On Tour with Jim and Rich

After kickoff, groups got right to work. One of the projects was to figure out how to turn web pages into live music visualizations. Shout-out to Jim and Rich! For this project, they used Ableton Live, Open Sound Control, Node.js, websockets, and their own Chrome Plugin.

“AddThis hackathons are about trying new things that you’re interested in and making them happen in a short amount of time,” said Rich, VP of Product at AddThis. “Jim and I both love doing music in our spare time, and I have been excited to play with in-browser visualizations, so this was a perfect hackathon project.”

Watch the awesome live demo they gave on Friday morning:

Product Enhancements

Hackathons are also valuable because they allow people to quickly experiment with ways to optimize our existing products. Here are some of the guys from House Targaryen (our developer squads go by Game of Throne house names) working on new features for our website tools.

Hello Mike, Jacob, and Andres!

addthis-hackathon-2015

Conference Room Revamp

Another big project (one that didn’t involve programming) was cleaning up all the conference rooms around the office. This included hanging whiteboards, tidying up loose wires, and putting together conference room survival kits (chargers, dry-erase board erasers, and more).

hackathon-tools

Josh and Mike hard at work!

at-work

Hackathon Timelapse

For the first time, we also got to capture some new time lapse footage of the hackathon thanks to Brad’s homemade, Raspberry Pi-controlled camera dolly and Miops camera trigger. Check out the various teams at work on their different projects.

Friday Morning Presentations

The highly anticipated Friday morning presentations are always packed with surprises. It’s when groups talk about what they worked on, their successes and failures, and most importantly, what they learned. We heard from groups about exploring big data interactively using SQL, creating better audience targeting, and even office-brewed beer.

hackathon-presentations

Want to join us for our next hackathon? We’re hiring! Check out our careers page for details.

  • uxmatthew

    You guys should write about how you organize teams & ideas pre-kickoff… I’ve found your method to be far superior to anything else I’ve seen.

  • Hi Matthew, that’s an excellent idea for a future blog post! Stay tuned :)

  • Thanks for all the
    great ideas! I was sitting at my computer today and could not for the life of
    me think of something to write about. This was really helpful. Thanks again!