Author: Susanne Marx, Aug 2019
If hosted by one museum only, most recommendable is to host the hackathon in the organizing institution, so the teams can experience the exhibition, watch real visitors and get thus inspiration. If hosted by several museums, a facility complying with the basic requirements is recommended.
- All participants should work in one room. It is beneficial for the atmosphere and for networking. It would be good have extra rooms for teams to work in more quiet atmosphere, however, only bookable for a certain amount of time.
- All meetings, catering, work etc. should be done in one building. Rooms with daylight are preferable.
- Some food should be allowed in the main working room (snacks, coffee etc.).
- Bathrooms: adequate number of toilets, even shower if possible
- Hacking: large tables with seats for about 5-6 people, have comfortable seats or gymnastic balls
- Opening/closing ceremony: classroom-style seating or cinema-style
- Sleeping room (warm), matrasses would be good, but is not standard, participants bring sleeping gear
- Preferably a separate chill room
- Eat room/space
- Room for meetings with mentors
- Access: check for wheelchair friendliness and accessibility even outside working hours
- Security: Check for security, so that participants can leave their belongings in the room including laptops
WiFi needs to fulfill high demands and depends on the number of participants. In order to provide the participants with redundant multiple simultaneous internet connection, the organizers should have the equipment supporting more computers and other devices than the participating ones, as the demand for the bandwidth was tremendous in our experience.
- Electricity for many computers in one room, Power strip for each table with multiple plugs
- Microphone for large rooms
- Flipcharts at all tables with pens
- Provide something to play/experience/move
- Provide a big table in the middle of the room with sticky notes, pens, etc., as a communication hub.
The working atmosphere differed. Participants expect a relaxed and open minded atmosphere, they also want to have fun during the time they devote to you as hackathon organizers.
In the first hackathons, programmers showed to work in a silent working atmosphere. They preferred to communicate online while working or go outside to discuss in order not to disturb others or to spread their ideas. All other visitors (e.g. project partners) who are not part of teams should have a separate area to not disturb the teams. Participants requested a communication channel during the event for the participants, so that e.g. questions could be shared easily, e.g. SLACK. However, this could be country specific. It was requested in Gdynia, but when provided in Klaipeda, the participants did not use it. Recommendable is to ask participants before the event.
In Greifswald hackathon, the atmosphere was lively with cross-team exchange. The focus here was on creativity, on networking and learning with all teams working on different topics that diminished the competitive angle of the event and could be a reason for this atmosphere. It created a sense of being part in something of value that is created by all teams. The moderation can add a large part to the working atmosphere.
Participants need energy, good food is required. Do not provide fast-food, but a real breakfast, lunch and dinner. At night, some extra food is recommended e.g. pizza at around 1 a.m. At the working room, fruits, crackers, crisps, coffee, water, tea should be always available. Some teams requested energy drinks, but it is not a necessity to be provided by the organizers. Ask for specialties in the diet (vegan, vegetarian, other requests/allergies). It proved that there is a large need for a variety of vegetarian dishes.
Welcome your participants and mentors with some gadgets, like t-shirts, mugs, bags or stickers. Fully branded, they also brand all the photos taken during the hackathon.
- Shirts (different sizes, male/female)
- Pens, Cups, USB Sticks, Bags
- Sticky notes, notebooks (could be branded, but not necessarily)
- Something from inviting organizations
- Entrance tickets to the inviting organizations for the participants to have a chance to come back after hackathon (so use event for promotion)
Most hackathons last over 24 hours and participants sleep little or not at all. For resting and sleeping arrangements, you should provide a room, participants bring sleeping bags/matrasses. Having some chairs or resting sofas is very welcomed. Also consider that comfortable chairs are needed in the working room to allow for sitting such a long time.
Documentation was done during the hackathons with professional photos and video. Key aspects:
- Make sure that the agreement regarding taking photos/ recording movie with participants is included in terms and conditions
- Recommendable: No photos during the night, only in the beginning and in the end
- Have a briefing of the film crew to not be intimidating to participants, go about with care and do not disturb
- Group photo after winners’ announcement
- Professional video: opening ceremony, show branding, work of participants, interviews with organizers, mentors, participants, final ceremony
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