Hackanooga spawns ideas, collaboration

Authored By Chloé Morrison

About 70 people from across North America descended on Chattanooga over the weekend to participate in Hackanooga-an event that highlighted the Gig City’s spirit of collaboration and efforts to capitalize on technology.

“It was really good for Chattanooga to hold an event like this,” Enoch Elwell with The Company Lab said. “We have 48-Hour Launches and things that are hyper-local, which is really wonderful, but it ends up being the same people.”

The 48-hour technology-centric event connected experienced Web developers with the city’s 1-gigabit-per-second Internet speed and brought together some people from similar backgrounds who hadn’t otherwise connected, Elwell said.

“Hacker” defined 

-The term “hacker” doesn’t necessarily mean someone who is stealing passwords or taking down national websites. A hacker is also a technology enthusiast. 

-McCarthy define a hacker as “any person who is trying to work on an application, a program, trying to make it do something that it currently doesn’t do in the spirit of exploration.”

-An organizer said most of the participants used Macs during the event. 

It also provided a chance for people from outside the area, such as Canada, to experience Chattanooga’s tech scene.

Participants formed teams and ended up working on about 10 projects, such as a local video content aggregator that aims to make it easy to find video content from local organizations, Elwell also said.

Another group, the BigBlueButton team, came to do more work on their video platform project that is for educators who use distance learning, Elwell said.

Kelly McCarthy, Hackanooga organizer and co-owner of Easy Designs, said the event was at least three months in the making and that it couldn’t have gone any better.

The event was a collaboration between several organizations-such as US Ignite and Mozilla-and was sponsored by EPB, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, National Science Foundation, CO.LAB, Lamp Post Group and Easy Designs.

“I was super-impressed with all of the teams and everything they were able to do,” she said.

A variety of community leaders, such as Jim Coppinger, county mayor, and J. Ed. Marston, vice president of marketing and communication for the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, came to the event to watch, offer guidance and learn, organizers said.

A group of STEM school students also participated in the event, Elwell said.

“They ended up getting plugged in and learning a lot,” he said. “At the end, one was talking about how they learned how to build a Web page [over the weekend].”

In June, Chattanooga, also known as the Gig City, was chosen as one of 25 cities nationwide to partner in a White House initiative called US Ignite, which aims to promote United States leadership in developing uses for high-speed broadband Internet.

Hackanooga comes on the heels of the Gig Tank competition, which was a competition that brought college students and entrepreneurs to Chattanooga to create businesses and find applications for the city’s high-speed Internet.

Ideas from the hack-a-thon may evolve into submissions for the Mozilla Ignite challenge, which offers $485,000 in awards as well as mentorship opportunities to help get apps off the ground, officials said.

The goal of that challenge is to “show how next-generation networks can revolutionize health care, education, public safety, energy and more,” according to the Mozilla Ignite website.

Applications for that challenge are due Sept. 28.

The event was a good chance for people outside Chattanooga to get to see the collaborative spirit of the city, Elwell said.

“I think it was just another great example of lots of organizations coming together,” he said. “It’s so exciting to see all the different organizations coming together to provide an awesome event.”

The event took place at the Southside venue Church on Main.

Disclaimer: Nooga.com is affiliated with the Lamp Post Group, but editorial decisions for this publication are made independent of the Lamp Post Group. 

Updated @ 3:24 p.m. on 09/18/12 to correct the website for BigBlueButton.