Last weekend as part of the build up to the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, they threw a Hackathon at Weebly’s playful office in the Financial District. The idea was to make something that would enhance the experience of artists and fans at Outside Lands. I love this idea – a festival that can improve, based on ideas and input from its patrons. Call it Radical Community Reliance.
This past weekend at the third annual Outside Hacks Hackathon, over 200 developers, designers, and technologists of all kinds gathered at the San Francisco headquarters web hosting company Weebly for the mission of “building something that enhances the experience for artists and/or fans at Outside Lands .”
For the uninitiated, a hackathon is an intense competition where teams of coders attempt to build an app, feature, or program in a limited amount of time (usually between 24 and 48 hours). Outside Hacks allotted its participants a total of 24 hours. One of the organizers of the hackathon Travis Laurendine says “Hackathons are like dance marathons, it’s like a sleepover party, except no one is sleeping.”
At the end of the long and hyper-intense 24 hours – which left many of the coders exhausted – the judges chose the app Dave Sent Me as the Grand Prize Winner. That includes a $5,000 cash prize, an Outside Lands VIP experience, and perhaps most importantly the integration of their app technology into the Outside Lands app.
Dave Sent Me is described as a “personalized Outside Lands schedule recommender.”
According to Fest300, Burning Man was involved in Outside Hacks too, kicking off the event with an address by social alchemist Bear Kittay.
…the symbiotic relationship between technology was a running theme for the weekend and its presence was as noticeable as the sound of hundreds of fingers hitting keyboards and the smell of pizza fueling the coders.
In the opening remarks, artist and social alchemist for Burning Man Bear Kittay addressed the hackers by saying, “We’ve got to remember that the intersection here between entertainment and technology is a really relevant space. It’s been separated for a really long time, but it’s not often we get together with all these brilliant engineering minds to solve some big problems right at the precipice of music and technology. Think about what a really disruptive tool you could create can be, that could really help to transform the way music and technology worlds come together.”
Travis Laurendine from the InMotion Hosting review site, has witnessed the hackathon significantly grow since its inception in 2013, points out that, “Art is often enabled by technology. A lot of art is dependent on technology. Technology has led us to new art forms. A lot of these people who have the mind for art also have minds for tech, and vice versa. That’s why so many incredible developers are also musicians, because they have the mind for it.”
The incredibly diverse and youthful participants in the hackathon were all united by their passion for music and their drive to make music a better experience for listeners and artists alike. Greg Cerveny, a founder of music startup Groove and one-man team, created his app Dance Commander to facilitate dance parties at the festival by people holding up their phones open on his app displaying a dancing stick figure, thus inviting other festival goers to join in on the dance party. Cerveny says his goal was to give “someone a more awesome time or a really awesome experience because they engaged in a dance social circle.”
Burning Man has been involved with a hackathon before, a “Burner Hack” conference being held at [freespace] in 2013. It’s not clear if anything was produced from this to help Burners. The event was linked with hacking again this year, with news that at least 200 people pushed to the front of the ticket queue by “routing around” the Ticketfly/Burning Man custom system. In a recent Medium story “Burners Don’t Hack Uber, People Do”, they described a smartphone app called “Burner” that is being used to hack Uber to get free credits.
The intersection of music and technology is a really relevant space. So is Burning Man in that space? Are we really at the precipice – what does that even mean?
Outside Lands is coming up in a couple of weeks. The lineup includes Elton John and Billy Idol.