Tag Archives: MIT

Hackathon Weekend Magic

Have you been to a hackathon? Do you know what that is? People get together to play with programming and in a single weekend create something real. It’s an amazing phenomenon.

MIT hackathon hackmit.orgTomorrow and Sunday an MIT group is sponsoring one of these (Hack MIT) that’s open to college students from anywhere. And free. Most work in groups of no more than four, some do it alone. They start Saturday morning, work through Saturday night if they want (many do), and by Sunday evening they have something real. It’s an amazing celebration of the magic that is programming.

What do they do? What do they make? The organizers say:

Anything goes! Web, desktop, mobile, and hardware projects are all welcome. (All hacks should be computer-related, though.) Projects will be judged based on creativity, technical difficulty, polish, and usefulness.

I was lucky enough to see the finals of one on these in New York a couple of years ago (HackNY.org). What a kick! They had real stuff to show, as in mobile apps in that case, done in a single weekend, but done well. The prize ceremony was great entertainment.

I love the name “hackathon” as a reminder that “hacking” when I first heard the term was a good thing, that meant making things and solving problems on computers. This is a reminder, what a kick it is to build something that actually is something, and in a single weekend.

As Arthur C. Clarke said:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Have a great weekend.




Brave New World Options for Entrepreneurship Education

Take a look at this list: 20 Essential Open Courses for Budding Entrepreneurs. You’ll see Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, Rice, and — between the lines on that one — MIT, among others. Mark Juliano’s Entrepreneurship and Business, Chuck Eesley’s Technology Entrepreneurship

The post in question lists mainly general business courses. Aside from entrepreneurship, they have finance, financial theory, business communication, a couple courses on ethics … it’s not my ideal curriculum for entrepreneurs, by any means. But it’s a fascinating alternative to the more traditional warming-the-seat options.  

I’ve posted here occasionally on business education: try this link for the complete collection. The executive summary is: I’m in favor of it, but only when done right. I’ve got the MBA degree myself but I know lots of people doing just fine in business without it. And times have changed, no doubt. 

I’m thinking that the online availability is a huge step forward; except that it isn’t a step, but rather a series of steps that have been happening for years, in stops and starts. I see the rise in validation, accreditation, and certification of online learning, all of which are part of the problem. 

One of my mentors, a fellow Stanford MBA from a few years before me, always referred to the MBA as “a union card.” He would add: “it means you get to charge more.” 

I’ve never believed viewing the degree as merely that. I always see it as being about the learning involved. The growing acceptance of these alternatives force us to think about whether we’re doing it for the learning, or for the union card. Or not: because you can see in this graphic, some of these online courses come with accreditation and validation. 

Here’s something to think about: when you deal with somebody whose education includes the online courses, how much credence do you give that? As an investor, looking at a business plan? As a potential employer? As a partner?