DIGITAL AMERICA

Hackathons

// Posted by on 02/27/2012 (9:46 PM)

In the March issue of Wired, I read an article about hackathons. If you’re like me, you had never heard of a hackathon until not, but these are competitions of just a few days when groups of individuals attempt to create an app or software or something else and present it to the judges. The winning team can win anything from a trip to several thousands of dollars. Below is a short clip about a hackathon sponsored by Facebook in Madison, WI.

These are interesting events, because the people who have entered take an idea and bring it to fruition in anywhere from 12 hours to a few days, depending on the competition. Often they take code that someone else has written and work with it so that they may improve it or make major changes to it.

The whole idea of hacking is interesting to me. While in any other field you must cite your sources and there are strict rules about plagiarism and copying, this does not seem to be the case. It made me wonder, should there be some way that people can “publish” their code so that others may use it, but give them credit? Based on the answers given my many of the people entered into hackathons, it appears that they do not think so. Publishing software and apps is a race and the common belief is that whoever publishes first is the winner.

What do you think? Should it simply just be a race to see who can finish something first or should there be a way to protect your code from being copied without credit being given?

 


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Comments:


Natalie said...

You bring up several good questions.Hacking really enters into a new ethical debate. I think that the motives behind the hackers really come into effect with this. If someone is hacking to improve a system and they are enhancing the final product than I am not opposed to that type of hacking. On the other hand, hacking with a malicious intent is not justifiable. Who sets these standards though and defines what is good and bad hacking? Also, how do we as a society set guidelines for hacking without limiting good hacking or permitting bad hacking. Any type of legislation that could set out to define hacking in order to protect the original coder or to set copyrights will make a legal system with several slippery slopes. As this becomes more prevalent in society I will be interested to see if any type of legal retaliation will result in order to protect coders.

// 02/28/2012 at 12:19 pm