Is the Civic Hackathon Trend Sustainable?

As more governments embrace civic hackathons as a way to tap enthusiastic young software developers quickly and cheaply, a backlash to these "app-developing marathons" is growing along with them. Does their local focus doom them to irrelevance?
July 7, 2013, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"We've heard the argument before that hackathons aren't all they're cracked up to be, even that they're downright bad for you," says Emily Badger. "Now the critique, in particularly blunt language, is coming from [Bill Schrier] the former chief technology officer of the tech-friendly city of Seattle."

"Schrier argues, in short, that most local apps developed in hackathons and contests are unsustainable because they can't be be monetized or scaled up to other cities. The two problems, as Schrier points out, are closely related."

"Without standardized data, a great app built in one city won't function anywhere else," explains Badger. "But more importantly – and this is Schrier's most compelling point – no one will make real money off of this stuff until 'data is standardized so a single app – a crime reporting app, for example – can be downloaded and used across an entire state or the nation with the potential for millions of users.'"


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Published on Friday, July 5, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities
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