Facebook’s Hackathon Culture

Facebook’s agency relations manager Jennifer Kattula

I swung by 360i’s new offices in Tribeca last evening for Social Media Week NY‘s weekly board meeting and holiday get-together. SMW chief Toby Daniels invited Facebook’s agency relations person Jennifer Kattula to walk the crowd through the company’s “hackathon culture,” but it wasn’t exactly what we’ve come to know as the hackathon.

Facebook’s Rules of the Hack  

Facebook views hackathons less as group coding events — though that model remains popular — but rather as individuals brainstorming alone in a room shared with others each, focused on a particular business activity — from marketing to new product development.
It’s not a free-for-all.  Facebook mandates that all hacked ideas comply with a very defined set of rules (at left)  The prize: the idea gets “shipped.” More photos of Facebook’s hack rules here.

Following Jennifer’s glimpse into Facebook’s creative culture, the evening’s attendees broke into four or five “hackathon” groups to (more traditionally) brainstorm fresh event ideas for the New York leg of Social Media Week February 13-17.  (Not that it needs it.)

Social Media Week NY Keynoters  

Pictured here is a list of some of the confirmed keynoters for NY:

I’ll mention some of the ideas that emerged since anyone can take the lead and submit a more fleshed our proposal for consideration. (The last SMWNY in September drew 10,000+ “hyper-social” New Yorkers who attended some 200+ events in the city.) Here are some of the new ideas from last night:

  • Collaboration Creation — Social Media Week attendee stories contribute to an ebook that’s developed over the course of the week 
  • Festival Fest — Tribeca Film Festival, CMJ Music, SMW, Fashion Week, NY Wine & Food offer sneak peaks and entertain 
  • The Voices Behind the Voice — Those responsible for crafting twitter personalities of notable news sources, political figures, celebrities 
  • Guess that Source: Propaganda in Social Media — Audience guesses origin of tweet based on tone of voice, message conveyed 
  • Unfortunate Tweeters: “I got [fired, divorced, found out] because of Social Media” — Highlight stories to discuss dual nature and precautionary aspects of social media 
  • Who REALLY has the most Klout — Competition to see whose followers attend most events 
  • Open Call — Participants tweet and trending topics become focus of panel 
  • Strike a Pose — Photobooth transfers photos into online Hipstamatic album 
  • Sketch – Artwork is created during a panel to turn “ordinary into extraordinary” 
  • VIP Influencer Events — All attendees are required to have x followers or a certain Klout score to attend. 

As mentioned, anyone can submit an event for consideration. Here’s the submissions link.  Deadline: January 20.


Separately, I brought my digital audio recorder so was able to grab some sound from a few of the attendees I knew.  It was the end of the year. so we danced around what lies ahead for 2012.  Here’s what I learned. Click on the name to listen to the audio exchange.

  • Social Media News NY‘s Mo Krochmal (RT: 3:44) talking about his effort to curate notable predictions for 2012.  I sent him my Wikispaces-hosted collection of digital prognostications for 2011.  
  •  Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer (RT: 2:39) who forecast that “the only thing you can count on is change.”
  • 360i‘s Digital Veep of Emerging Media David Berkowitz (RT: 2:33) whose company hosted the event.  His clients are “beyond why social matters,” and are asking “what’s the value for me.”
  • Social Media Week‘s founder and executive director Toby Daniels (RT: 4:56) observed that entrepreneurs in 2012 are going to look beyond just selling more consumer packaged goods and try to tackle some of the important social issues affecting us all.   

I did make an attempt to grab some insights from a couple of the women attending last night, but for various reasons got turned down.  Bad breath?  Actually, I’ve been promised some time in January after their gestating professional plans become known.  

Photos of Ms. Kattula and slides: Mo Krochmal