Rule number one of Facebook's Hackathon: If you're new, you must hack!
Facebook in Menlo Park, Calif. staged another Hackathon on Tuesday evening. The event kicked off around 7 p.m. at Facebook's massive headquarters. During the course of the night, engineers and communications specialists alike will code and create new ideas that could potentially one day be integrated into the Facebook you know and love. If anything, the ideas could at least turn out to be entertaining.
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Past hackathons have resulted in some of the most well-known Facebook features -- chat and Timeline, for example. Vernal said one idea the sprang from a past hackathons was something the team called, "friendship pages." The pages would house all activity between the user and one friend -- things they have in common, photos they're both in and more -- essentially telling the story of their friendship. From that idea another team created a project called, "memories." "Memories" pulled together a summary of each year, highlighting updates and photos that had the most likes. Sound familiar? This idea was the early version of Timeline.
A crowd gathered in a quad to commence the all-night event. In the center of the outdoor space was a yellow construction crane that seemed out-of-place at the crisp, new college-like campus. There's a story behind the crane, said Michael Kirkland, communications director at Facebook who was giving me the tour. The crane was in the lobby of their former office and it was somewhat of a go-to meeting spot since it was so easily identifiable. When they began creating the new campus a little more than one year ago, they also brought the yellow crane, and now it's a fixture in the quad. That's just one of the quirky details on Facebook's very large yet cozy campus.
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In total, there have been about 30 hackathons at Facebook. The idea behind them, says Mike Vernal, director of engineering at Facebook, is to give engineers time to take a break from their daily jobs to work on passion projects. Now, he says, when someone comes up with a new idea, they will wait until the next hackathon to hash-it-out on a team. Since hackathons happen every six-eight weeks, they don't have to wait long to brush-out those ideas.
Anyone is welcome on a team, but everyone must code (see rule no. 1). Another advantage to the hackathon idea, Vernal said, is that people who don't usually work together get a chance to collaborate.
As of late, Facebook is being a bit hush with the media and outsiders -- avoiding any chance of tarnishing its impending IPO. And even though there was a keg and plenty of food to keep people awake all night long, unsurprisingly, most were using the fuel to stay glued to their laptop screens, preparing to code the night away.
Check out a handful of pics from the event:
Facebook's held about 30 hackathons to allow engineers to work on passion projects that might lead to big breakthroughs, or maybe just massive QR codes on the rooftop. Here, Pedram Keyani, an engineer on Facebook's integrity team gets the crowd riles for a night of hacking.
If you could participate in a hackathon, what would you like to create for Facebook? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.