Is an online “Hackathon” possible? Challenges of new hires of major corporations

A coined term that blends hack and marathon is “Hackathon”. It refers to an event or work in which engineers and creators of IT (information technology) form a team to come up with solutions in a short period on a given subject and construct a service prototype.

Monday, November 16, 2020, 10:23 GMT

Now that the latest coronavirus outbreak has made “gathering” impossible, online “non-gathering hackathons” are being studied. How much online can a hackathon be done? I raced after the challenge.

In August 2020, five individuals participated in the hackathon from their homes, including Atsushi Uchiyama, a new Nomura Research Institute employee, and used Zoom to face each other from their PC computer. These five individuals are currently synchronized with the Nomura Research Institute, but I have never seen them before. He was ready to work from home as soon as he joined the organization, so nearly all of the new employee training went online, and he had few chances to come to work after that.

They engaged in the ONE JAPAN” web hackathon, a network of young volunteer groups from major businesses. It was held from 22nd to 30th August and was attended by 18 teams (about 80 people).

This is the first time an online hackathon has been conducted by the community. It is peculiar that young administrators in big organizations discuss and use diverse resources to promote online conversations.

Let’s first clarify what sort of instrument you were really using.

There are five major kinds of instruments that I have actually used.

(1) “Zoom” at the start of the hackathon was used for the orientation and concept generation stage. One of the management representatives, Takuya Hagimura of ONE JAPAN, said, “I thought that the first tool I used was a tool that everybody was familiar with.”

(2) We use “Buddy up! to promote contact between participants!” “A program that requires persons who engaged in an event to write their own introductions.

(3) For clerical contact from the administration side and queries to application vendors, the messaging tool “Slack” was used.

(4) We used the “Remo” online conferencing platform for actual meetings and reporting of results, which is mostly used mostly at conferences. A feature of Remo is that several meeting rooms can be set up in a simulated conference environment, making it easy to see where and what people are talking. The goal was to prevent contact within the team from being blocked.

(5) The fifth and final one is the ‘Spatial Chat’ video conferencing method, used mostly for online social events. The trait is that it introduces the concept of “distance” into online communication.

The logged-in user is seen on the PC’s panel as an icon which can be freely pushed using a mouse or the like on the screen. If the distance between users reduces, and decreases as the distance between users increases, voices can be heard. It is a specification because after a certain distance, you can not hear it. You will create a state where many groups are sharing conversation in a wide room if you do it at a social event.

Now, an online hackathon that prepares such an environment. How did the actual discussion proceed? Let’s take a look at the discussion of a team of five new employees at Nomura Research Institute.