HACK Manchester is a 24-hour coding competition that looks set to be a highlight of October’s Manchester Science Festival.
Forget any ideas you might have about coders as solitary, geekish types – as anyone who’s ever witnessed a caffeine-fueled, adrenalin-charged hack day will know, writing code is, well, the new rock ‘n’ roll. It’s even fun to watch, says Gemma Cameron, co-organiser of October’s Hack Manchester competition at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).
“I’ve told friends who don’t work in digital about Hack Manchester, and they think it’s exciting – they want to come along and see what’s happening. Which is why we’re having spectator tickets, too.”
Hack Manchester is an ambitious, 24-hour celebration of the amazing things that can happen when you get a bunch of talented, big-brained creative coders together. What will they come up with? Will it work? Who will win? And, crucially, how much coffee will be required to avoid people falling asleep at their laptops?
“Hack days are really big at the moment, they’re very exciting and we just decided that it was about time Manchester got in on the action,” says Cameron, who also organises Bar Camp Blackpool. “The time constraint and being in a small team makes people incredibly focused, you do things that you didn’t think you’d be able to. I had a team at Leeds Hack and we managed to make two native smartphone applications in 24 hours – and that’s quite a feat!”
Team spirit required
“It takes a certain type of person to get involved in a competition like this,” adds fellow organiser Sean Handley, the man behind last year’s MagRails conference. “To work in a team under pressure you need to be good at communicating, you need to separate your responsibilities out, so it does take people who are good at collaborating – it’s not people sitting there quietly ignoring each other.”
Teams for Hack Manchester can include a maximum of four people, but there’s no minimum number. With the first 100 user tickets already sold and another 100 set to be released, Handley says they’re expecting around 50 teams in total. Among those confirmed are universities (including the MMU Computing Society), digital companies from Manchester and beyond, and user groups. Fifty spectator tickets (for the evening ceremony on Sunday 28 October) are also currently available.
“We’re very hopeful that at the end of the 24 hours we’re going to see some really cool things,” says Handley, “stuff that you’d have never thought of. You just don’t know what’s going to happen with a hack day, and that’s a big part of the fun.”
More information on Hack Manchester at hackmanchester.com