A Challenge in Mexico

My trip to Guadalajara a month ago was dual-purpose. First, we’re hiring there, so we had interviews. Second, we were assisting with a hackathon.

Since running the Oracle Social Network Developer Challenge at OpenWorld last Fall, Noel (@noelportugal) and I have become “the hackathon guys,” which makes me think of this movie for some reason.

When we joined Applications UX, Laurie (@lsptahoe) asked for our help organizing an internal hackathon, erm, developer challenge, at the Mexico Development Center (MDC) in Guadalajara. The challenge she had in mind would focus on Endeca Information Discovery and use Profit Magazine data. Those were the only two requirements.

Beyond that, entrants could add any other data they wanted and build any front-end to showcase the data discovery.

Laurie’s use case for the challenge was:

I’m an IT Manager interested in moving some of our applications to the Cloud. I need to learn about the costs and benefits of doing this to see if this would really benefit my company.

The goal was to use Endeca, Profit and other data sources to answer questions like:

  • Who are the thought leaders in my company and in my industry?
  • What are they saying?
  • What kind of information can I find?
  • What enterprises have done this already, and what problems have they run into?
  • Are there security concerns about moving to the Cloud?

Once we had the tools and a problem to solve, Noel built a VM running OEL with Endeca Studio, Integrator and Server installed, and we decided to provide Twitter as another data source to augment Profit’s content.

Next Laurie’s MDC team built an API converter for Endeca to transform the SOAP output into JSON, which would make it a bit easier for entrants to build web apps and native mobile apps.

The challenge ran March 22-23, giving the entrants only about 36 hours. We encouraged teams, given the large scope of the challenge, and 22 people organized into five teams completed the challenge.

I had to miss the final judging, but yesterday, I got a recap of the top two entries.

First, the winning entry, called for some reason unknown to me, Squeedily Spooch.

Next, here are some shots of the runner-up, a native iPad app designed to showcase the serendipity of the data Endeca captured.

The challenge judges were Jeremy Ashley, head of Applications UX, Mark Burrell, Director of Endeca User Experience, and Erik Peterson, General Manager of the MDC. FYI check out Ultan’s (@ultan) post about Endeca Information Discovery and Mark’s story about its origins.

The judges saw these two entries as very even, but Mark said that Squeedily Spooch illustrated “how Endeca facilitates insight and discovery, through intuitive dialogue with and progressive exploration of diverse information.”

I know you’re wondering what the prize was. Each member of the winning team received a Raspberry Pi Model B, an appropriately geeky prize, and I’ve already seen some hacking come out of those Raspis.

But wait, there’s more. The challenge featured all the online content from Profit Magazine, dating back to 2005, so naturally, Profit’s editor, Aaron Lazenby (@alazenby) attended with a photographer and chronicled the event for a feature that will appear in Profit Magazine’s August issue.

So, look for that.

And hey, if you need a hackathon, I know some guys.

Find the comments.



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