HackSummit Second Annual Virtual Conference Aims to Top Last Year’s World Record

Hack.summit() returns for its second year on February 22 - 25. The conference — now being managed by Pluralsight which acquired summit organizer HackHands last year — brings technology leaders together in a virtual space so that participants around the world can learn directly from some of the most innovative creators in the API, mobile, data, cloud, and IoT realms.

Following last year’s coverage on ProgrammableWeb, the event saw around over half a million website visitors during December 2014 (according to website statistics provider, SimilarWeb). If the conference followed the same sort of engagement statistics is often seen in API developer circles, that would mean about 55,000 registrations and about 6,000 actively participating in each track session. (ProgrammableWeb research into developer engagement shows a consistent rate of 1:10:100 where out of 100 portal visitors/signups, about 1% of API developers are actively engaged in using an API in their product, and 10% are regular readers and are tinkering with the API in some sandbox or prototype manner.)

HackSummit homepage

This year’s event, to be held 22 - 25 February online via the website hacksummit.org, has already enlisted a wide range of industry founding creators and serial entrepreneurs who have built open source and proprietary technologies common to API developers today. Speakers so far include:

  • David Heinemeier Hansson (creator of Ruby on Rails)
  • Rebecca Parsons (CTO of Thoughtworks)
  • Bob Martin (created the Software Craftsmanship Movement)
  • Tom Chi (co-created Google Glass)
  • Yehuda Katz (Ember.js, JQuery, Rails Core committer. Created HandleBars)
  • Qi Lu (Executive Vice President at Microsoft)
  • Ed Roman (founder of TheServerSide.com, Java book author)
  • Aaron Skonnard (founder of Pluralsight)
  • Brian Fox (created the GNU Bash Shell, Emacs maintainer)
  • Chris Richardson (Java Champion, created the original Cloud Foundry)
  • Orion Henry (founder of Heroku)
  • Joe McCann (Node.js core committer, CEO of NodeSource)
  • Jocelyn Goldfein (recent Engineer Director, Facebook)
  • Jon Skeet (#1 answerer on StackOverflow)
  • Dries Buyataert (created the Drupal programming language).

“We've assembled an unparalleled roster of speakers, where every speaker is keynote-level,” Founder Ed Roman told ProgrammableWeb. “They'll be speaking about a variety of APIs and technologies, such as the creators of Test-Driven Development, Drupal, Ruby on Rails, Apache Storm, Heroku, and many other APIs and technologies.  We've tried to keep the agenda high-level so that you don't need specific knowledge to benefit from any particular session, yet still go into depth so you're learning a substantial amount from each session. In addition, the virtual hackathon allows developers to get experience with a variety of APIs, where they can ‘hack for a cause’ over a weekend.  Those APIs are provided by our sponsors.”

Like last year, the event raises money via sponsorship and registration to support not-for profits including Code.org, Women Who Code, Code for America, Black Girls Code, and others. Last year’s event raised $50,000 and Roman is confident with the addition of the virtual hackathon, this year’s event can raise more.

The hack.summit() virtual hackathon, to be held just prior to the conference on February 20-21, 2016 has a $150,000 prize pool. Over 30,000 developers have already pre-registered for the hackathon from over 900 cities, making this the largest hackathon in history. Koding.com is organizing and powering this hackathon, and has agreed to subsidize the infrastructure costs to help nonprofits in the coding space.

“When sponsors contribute towards the prize pool of the hackathon, a portion of their sponsorship is also donated to non-profits.  In addition, the hackathon helps draw more attendees to the event, who may choose to personally donate,” confirms Roman.

The money raised last year went to support the work of several organizations seeking to address the inequalities in technology circles where women are often excluded and diversity is marginalized. Roman explains:

Each organization used the funds and exposure to forward their agendas, many of whom promote inclusivity and diversity in the coding space.

One interesting example is the CODE Documentary, which exposes the dearth of female and minority software engineers and explores the reasons for this gender gap and digital divide.  They released their film in April 2015 to critical acclaim

Another good example is the Code.org Hour of Code Initiative, which has helped almost 2 million people learn to code.  At a young age, this can help inspire girls and minorities to choose software development as their future profession.  Each of our partners has an important mission that we're proud to help.

HackSummit is striking a chord with an increasing number of developer communities who are already seeking ways to use their technology skills to support not for profits, or who are even trying to gain new programming skills specifically to contribute to the work of organizations working on social good.

The increasing adoption of Freecodecamp is a solid example of this rise in developer and programming interest to support not-for-profits. In the past year, their website visits have increased from around 150,000 visits a month to a peak of 1.3 million in the summer months and steadying at around 900,000 by the end of last year.

Rise in Freecodecamp website visitors

Roman explains the trend:

I call this movement ‘social entrepreneurship’, which is a trend towards creating initiatives that are self sustaining but also help the world.  Hack.summit() was created with this in mind.  There are entire companies that have been created that embody this broader social vision as well (the U.S. Government has a special classification for them -- the "B Corporation" ).  The success of these social entrepreneurship initiatives are a testament that it's possible to have a societal impact as part of your mission statement, and yet still achieve strong success.

API developers can register on the website hacksummit.org to attend conference sessions or to register for the virtual hackathon.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities.

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