my hackathon experience last weekend

hackathon-post

Me and Jonathan Chan (@jonishungry) had quite the adventure last
weekend. Managing a two hour El ride; being completely lost on the
UChicago campus; sleeping in a tiny student government office since the venue wasn't 24/7 (graciously provided by @hackuc); discovering that Fermi worked in Ryerson Hall (where we hacked), and that Carl Sagan used to go to the observation tower there. Oh, and winning second place (by 1 vote)!

The app we built was SoundingBoard: a crowd-driven music player. Let's say you have a venue and you want to play some music while also allowing people to suggest artists they love (with minimal effort on your part). You sign in with an Rdio account, give us the place name in a hashtag-friendly manner, give us the place's address, and we setup a page for you that plays songs. Now, put this up on a screen and people can tweet their favorite artists (with the appropriate hashtag) in order to add them to the artist pool. The player then randomly selects from the artist pool, which ranks artists based on the number of mentions in tweets/retweets. Needless to say, it was an API-wrangling bonanza, with lots of hard decisions about which features we had to cut and which were absolutely essential to the experience. It was also probably our most productive 30 hour sprint ever.

We successfully demoed our app, adding tweets live which were parsed for artist names, updating the pool and affecting the next song's choice. And we almost won the whole thing! But it's ok; we still got VIP tickets to TEDxUChicago, which promises to be amazing. Enova, the company backing the hackathon, and the hack@uchicago team (@hackuc) should be lauded for supporting such an amazing event.

We were definitely thrilled to see some validation of our idea and
want to explore it further. Any updates will be up on our launch-rock page at http://soundingboard.heroku.com, and emailed to everyone who's signed up to our mailing list!