In an unused downstairs side room of a hotel, I listened to students from the University of Colorado express their desire to change the world, and their concerns about commercial interests moving in to poach talent from hackathons.
[Download as MP3]
HackCU is a Boulder-based hackathon incubator program that seeks to educate, inspire, and connect local students to technology and hands-on skills. It is at the cutting edge of technical education. It is student-led. It is well intentioned.
It is a way for students to arm themselves in the digital workforce when they can't trust the technical market to treat them properly as employees. They teach each other how to code, design, and prove the value of their own technology.
I think this is great. These are the right people to be running this sort of thing. I'll be keeping my eyes open about hackathon politics in the local area thanks to my conversations with these fine engineers.
My goal in engaging the two Alex's and Nika, with help from Maria Sallis of StartupDigestCO and Lorinda Brandon's wise words, was to assist these students in any way a storyteller like me can: network the right people together, understand their challenges, and help them tell that story to a wider audience.
Much like the open source community (which I am far less a part of than I'd like to be), the communities of student-led hackathons are a brilliant place to hang out and listen, intellectually stimulating and ethically challenging. My own exploration of this space will take time.