Friday, May 31, 2013

Hacking for Change: Battle Hack, PayPal Developer, & Superhero-Level Coding

Punch social evil in the face with code
The global hack for change movement is growing. Developers play a critical role in the creation of new technologies to solve the numerous sociocultural and socioeconomic problems that we face in the 21st century. A solid example of how we can harness code-hacks to make social change can be seen in PayPal Developers’ Battle Hack, a hackathon series contest that brings together developer teams in competition to create applications to solve local problems in targeted locations. Ambitious in scope, the hackathon series will run in 10 cities culminating in a world final in Silicon Valley. BattleHack developed out of a series of events called Charity Hacks, which were organised over the last few years by PayPal and partners in London. Engaging the developer community to create change in their own backyards is a worthwhile endeavor. Add the cool comic book theme, swag, beer, food, serious prizes, and general geekery, and we have the ingredients for awesome hack experiences. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World goes hack with less emo and more tech...and ninjas (OK, maybe no ninjas).

(Video Source: PayPal)

From Local to Global.
Use prize money to buy stuff
Developers will compete at regional levels in ten different cities; 10 winning teams garner local bragging rights and a golden ticket to the world final. Code local, win global. All species of code and ideas are welcome, which should produce a diverse array of hack-app solutions by contestants. I will take an app that provides real-time bus routes/movement on interactive mobile maps please. I’d like to see how far away the bus is in real-time as I run late to the stop.

PayPal Developer has put together some serious partners for the hackathon series: WIP, SoundCloud, APIoMat, OpenBankProject, CloudControl, Wooga, & Uber. 

The Marathon Hack: 24 Hours to Change the City
Challenge Accepted.

The event is held across two days within a 24 hour battle window.

Mission Day 1: Registration, event scope, team creation, meet judges, planning, commence hack. 

Hack, eat, drink, rest, massage, hack. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Mission Day 2: Hack with zeal (insert your unhealthy food choice here). Judges will be made up of industry code superheroes. Trophy & prize presentations. Commence social media humble brags.

Teams are limited to 4 members. Entrants can develop a team in advance (likely filled with your COD online squad members) or coders can group-up “Warriors” style with other hackers on site.

PayPal gets it right here on a number of accounts: open format, contestants own their hacks, legit prizes, all underpinned with social purpose. We can code for change and have fun doing it.

The Spoils of Hack.

4.3 lbs, 21 inch, solid steel axe trophy. What could go wrong?

It wouldn’t be a hackathon without prizes and tech swag. PayPal Developer delivers on this accord. The winning team and app will take home $100,000 (USD); that will buy a lot of downloads on Steam. 

Trophies are symbolic representations of how much code-butt you kicked: Enter The Axe. You will be prepared for the zombie apocalypse, but how will your team share the trophy, and what kind of terrible cabal will you enter?

Regional Contest Prizes. 
1st prize - Flight and hotel to the World Finals in Silicon Valley, 1 in 10 chance of winning $100,000 USD. Money can be used to purchase items for which to have fun. 

2nd prize – Run your social apps on new tablets (Incidentally, use it to connect with PayPal Developers  while you are at it. A cool, easy-to-use interface on their new developer platform gives access to robust RESTful APIs and Mobile SDKs.)

3rd prize - Robotic programmable balls (let mayhem ensue)

Actual mode of travel pictured here.
First 50 arrivals - Raspberry PIs (use it with Arduino to rig up AT-AT walkers to water your plants and chase zombies off your lawn).

Battle Hack Locations
Berlin - June 8th thru 9th
New York, NY - July 20th thru 21st
Tel Aviv - July 25th thru 26th
Seattle, WA - August 10th thru 11th
Miami, FL - August 24th thru 25th
Moscow - September 7th thru 8th
Austin, TX - September 28th thru 29th
London - October 12th thru 13th
Washington, DC - October 12th thru 13th
Barcelona - October 26th thru 27th

Register for Battle Hack here.
Click here to read more about Battle Hack.

Code for change, win stuff, and connect with fellow developers for mayhem.

Music inspiration.

(Video Source: marknueb)

Image Source: AtomMoney. By アトム通貨実行委員会 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Comic: By Thibault fr (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: Thing. photo credit: <a href="">JD Hancock</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Image Source: Axe.

Image Source: Ballon. See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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