All-Night Hackathon Connects Skilled Developers and Tech Fans in Red Hook

By Nikhita Venugopal on April 16, 2014 6:20pm 

RED HOOK — Hackers are heading to Red Hook this weekend for the neighborhood’s all-night hackathon for first-timers and professional developers.

Hack Red Hook calls for hackers of all ages and skill levels to spend almost 24 hours learning, building and asking questions about technology at Pioneer Works, a center of arts and science located at 159 Pioneer St.

From web and mobile apps to interactive art, hackers can create anything that involves technology, said organizers David Sheinkopf and Angel Say.

In creating Red Hook’s first hackathon, Say and Sheinkopf wanted to both involve and bolster the community through the event.

While hackers are encouraged to follow their wildest technological dreams, special prizes will be awarded to projects that help broad concerns in Red Hook, such as transportation issues, supporting local business and coastal awareness. 

Prizes include gift certificates to local bars and restaurants and a $500 Xbox-One for the “Best Hack.”

“Hackathons are really about building,” according to Say, who does web development at Pioneer Works.

“The idea of piecing together a bunch of things to building something completely new,” he said.

Midnight snacks, pizza and organic hot dogs will be doled out during the all-night tech fest, which will begin at 7 p.m. on April 18 and end at 4:30 p.m. the following day when the winners are announced. 

Roughly 150 people have signed up for the hackathon, and online registrations are still open, organizers said. There are few rules for Hack Red Hook but participants must design and build their projects during the event.

People are encouraged to form teams as a way to collaborate and learn. “Mentors” or experienced developers will also be available to help participants during the all-night hack, organizers said.

“We’re not trying to build the next Facebook or big business here,” said Sheinkopf, director of education at Pioneer Works.

“We try to limit how much we limit people,” Say said.

Companies such as Gilt, Foursquare and Etsy will be presenting their APIs – application programming interfaces – at Hack Red Hook, and participants have permission to use these APIs and existing platforms to build their ideas.

If all goes well, Say and Sheinkopf are hoping to make it a recurring event and organize a second Hack Red Hook in the fall.

Pioneer Works will also be partnering with the Red Hook Initiative’s Digital Stewards program to further their support of Red Hook during the event.

“We can use this as really a way to benefit the community,” Sheinkopf said.

To register for Hack Red Hook, visit this website.

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