The First Arc90 Hackathon

The Marksy team coding.

The Marksy team coding.

Just before the Christmas break, we shut down our company for two days. It had been a few months since our last lab experiment and the group of creative technologists here at Arc90 were getting a bit restless. We needed some time to put our “normal” work on hold, team up with a different group of people, and think about solving new problems for a while. Our friends at Kindling and Readability agreed to join, too.

This was the first Hackathon we’ve attempted at Arc90. Because we weren’t sure exactly what to expect, we only put forth one guiding principle: aim to ship in two days. That’s it. No other ground rules. Want to work with others? Great, form a small team. You’re a coder with a cool idea but need a designer? See if you can recruit somebody. Have an itch to hole up by yourself and get something out in two days? Grab a desk and do exactly that.


Leading up to the Hackathon, we regularly shared the ideas that were brewing. We had pitches during our weekly lunches. From polished Keynote decks to the trusty whiteboard, ideas were laid bare and scrutinized. By the time we were ready to hack, the teams had (more or less) been formed.

And then… it happened. Two days of designin’, codin’, testin’, and lots and lots of coffee. We woke up early, stayed late, covered whiteboards with sketches. We debated features over lunch and built them over dinner.

The Hackathon wasn’t only about the work. It was about attacking the routine day-to-day for most of the designers and engineers at Arc90. For just about everyone, it was a breath of fresh air to change their scenery and work with others.

The contrast with the experience of working on a brand-new project is immense. It felt terrific, and I know I will be very disappointed if I’m not able to bring some of that experience to our day-to-day work.

Over the next nine weeks, we’ll be releasing one project each week over on the Arc90 Lab’s Hackathon 2012 page. The first is Must Read. It’s a web app that serves one simple purpose: share that one must-read article you’ve found this week with your friends. It uses Readability and it’s really slick. Go check it out, it’s available today.

We hope you’ll enjoy the fruits of our frenzied labor. We’re incredibly excited to showcase the creative energy that constantly brews inside our walls.

See you next week!

If you’d like to talk to us about how our unique blend of design and technology talent could help your organization, be sure to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.