Critiques of Hackathons

We still see hackathons as valid after these (and other critiques), because all are addressed by seeing hackathons as one part of a larger effort and continuum. However, vital to point out.
We looked at four articles (for now), and pulled out the general themes. We got 16.


The Trouble with White Hats  (New Enquiry)
National Day of Hacking Assumptions & Entitlement
Morozov “Making It
David Sasaki: “On Hackathons & Solutionism

Critique Themes

  1. Produces incomplete & short-lived projects (prototyping)
  2. Free labor for companies & gov’t
  3. White House Double Standard
  4. Entrenches exclusion by favoring people with technical skills
  5. Shallow understanding of real issues
  6. Doesn’t create fundamental change
    1. Props up existing structures, making them more efficient
    2. Inauthentic citizenship as alternative to meaningful change
    3. Only addresses technically actionable solutions
    4. It’s impossible for tech to support meaningful structural change
  7. Distraction: People feel good about shiny ideas that never have impact
  8. Normalizes comfort with failure
  9. Co-opted fake citizenship
    1. by corporations (acquisitions, free labor, privacy)
    2. by government (DARPA, White House)
  10. Solutionism in a weekend
  11. Capitalism in altruistic clothing
  12. Don’t listen or collaborate with people they claim to support
  13. Barriers of entry via expertise requirements and fees
  14. Emphasizes superstars rather than communities
  15. Too focused: only addresses one part of a complex system
  16. Continuation doesn’t exist
  17. E-government apps alienates people from political participation