Hacking Your Way to a Mobile App At Social Summer Camp

Edelman Digital’s SocialDev Camp invites aspiring social app developers to compete in a 36-hour Hackathon in Chicago this August.

Edelman Digital turned us on to SocialDev Camp, a two-day gathering of developer-centric sessions for social social application and platform developers, mobile social developers, evangelists, and enthusiasts. The weekend will feature robust talks on social applications, platforms, APIs, mobile applications, identity management, and new media.

We found the Hackathon to be a particularly interesting component to the conference; a 36-hour all night challenge; developers are invited to create and present their social app idea to a panel of judges, competing for $3,000 in cash and prizes.

We had an opportunity to speak with Suzanne Marlatt, Community Manager at Edelman Digital, Pete Morano, CIO of KeyLimeTie and Hackathon Chair for SocialDevCamp Chicago, and Andy Angelos, SocialDevCamp Co-Chair, about August’s upcoming Hackathon;

Are app developers challenged with a particular ‘brief’ for their app?

Pete: In the case of SocialDevCamp Chicago, the apps must either utilize an API from an existing social network, single sign-on technology tied to a social network, or provide a level of social interactivity between users. This leaves the door wide open for the role, target audience, and platform the application needs to target, while still keeping with the social app theme of the event.”

Andy: Submission categories are fairly flexible under the “social umbrella.”  The established categories for prizes include best of show for overall, mobile, open source, student created, design, and guerilla coder.  The “guerilla coder” category provides contestants with a specific dataset or protocol announced at the beginning of the event.  Last year, this was the API for Facebook app Where I’ve Been. From our experience, the category ambiguity leads to more creative applications.

Did you notice any key themes emerge in last year’s submissions, and have you seen some of these since be launched?

Pete: Last year’s submissions ran the gamut. There were entries on mobile platforms, entries that leveraged Twitter and Facebook’s capabilities and entries that made use of video-chat technology. A few of the entries went on to be finalists in competitions for incubator support, and one, WinkVid, is now an actual product working diligently at gaining traction. WinkVid has become the poster child of sorts for the SocialDevCamp Hackathon because of the growing momentum and unbelievable hard work they’ve put in since the event.  We hope the SocialDevCamp Hackathon will spur more projects like this in the future.”

Andy: The most common theme is for talented developers to use the weekend as an excuse to explore an idea festering in their notebook for months.  More specifically, one team used the recently launched API of Justin TV to create an app for online speed-dating, prior to the explosion of chat roulette and other experiments in serendipitous meetings through live video.  The app has emerged into a company, which is available at winkvid.com.

Is collaboration encouraged and allowed?

Pete: Collaboration is definitely encouraged, and in some cases, teams form right at the event. To watch 2 or 3 people meet for the first time and collaborate under that kind of pressure is very interesting. I would say the split between individuals and teams favors teams. With 48 hours to go from concept to working application, it’s definitely going to be easier if you work together.

Andy: Encouraged and allowed.  The WinkVid team mentioned above formed through the union of two recent transplants to Chicago looking to network in the startup scene.  Another team was formed through members of Jelly Chicago – a coworking group.  They work in the same location on weekly basis, but usually on disparate projects. The hackathon provided a conduit to work on the same project in the same location.

Do you have any hypotheses for key themes, or differences from last year, you may be expecting at the August Hackathon?

Andy: If anything, I feel this year’s installment will be more competitive and include more mobile apps.  Last November, Foursquare was young, the iPad had not launched, and there were only a handful of Android devices. The landscape has changed.

For additional information or to register, visit SocialDev Camp Chicago

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