In which we discuss our ideas about software development & technology consulting.

Six Reasons ReinventTransit was Great

Six reasons the ReinventTransit hackathon was great:

1) Ambitious goals that matter to the attendees. It really felt like everyone in the room was on the same page: getting around Baltimore is harder than it should be and new ideas and creativity are needed to help combat the problem.

2) Fantastic organizers. There were a lot of people that helped make ReinventTransit not just possible, but awesome. That said, special thanks need to be given to Cari and Mike. In my experience, it's rare to have organizers at hackathons take an active role in connecting people throughout the event. That's exactly what Cari and Mike did all weekend. While attendees were heads down, the organizers took the time to figure out what everyone was working on and make introductions when they made sense.

3) Input from local organizations. It was really inspiring to have so much support from local government and non-government transit organizations. When you're tasked with working on a big problem like transit, it's easy to be dismissive when there's no visibility into the organizations that could implement your ideas.

4) Lack of emphasis on prizes. Everyone knew from the start that there were judges and prizes, but care was taken not to emphasize that piece either before or during the event. I think this led to a more productive hackathon. None of the teams seemed to go out of their way to produce very specific things to please the judges like I've seen happen at other hackathons. At the end, everyone that presented went home with a small prize, and they all deserved it for their hard work. Really a refreshing take on judging and prizes!

5) The people. Of course all the best planning would have been for nothing if the people who showed up weren't great… but they were. From designers, to developers, to transit planners, everyone was there and they were all great to hang out with for the weekend.

6) The space. Have you ever sat at a gross table in a uncomfortable chair all weekend at a hackathon? Yup, me too. If I'm going to spend my weekend hacking, I'd like to do it someplace comfortable. Betamore is that place. Clean facilities, comfortable work spaces, couches to relax and gather your thoughts, and beautiful views of Fed Hill. What more could you want of a hackathon space?

In conclusion: Thanks! This was probably the best hackathon I've ever been to, and it was a pleasure hanging out all weekend with everyone. No, the free food & beer at Woodberry after has nothing to do with that endorsement : ).


Ed Schmalzle

Ed is a principal and lead developer at Back Forty.