Today was Hack Day over at Yahoo, a day in which anyone with an idea and some motivation gets leave to pursue it. This was the first company-wide hack day, and participation was strong. Chad Dickerson (owner of the blog above) and the Techdev group have put a lot of effort and energy into the design of the quarterly competition. Hats off to Chad & co. for being experts at keeping the balance and fun spirit of the competition intact.
This was my second hack day experience, and I was lucky enough to work with some really talented people in multiple groups, so somehow I ended up being in a winning team for two different awards. This hack day made me feel like a part of making Yahoo! better. Therefore, yay! I just wanted to mention that. I wish I could talk directly about the various hacks I worked on, but we’ll have to wait for them to make it into the public view.
For a regular employee, the big benefits to participating in hack day are largely intangible in the short term. There’s the recognition for a job well done, the chance to pursue some personal idea or scratch a personal itch, and also the opportunity to do something neat. But, largely undiscussed, is the ability to maintain your edge. There are plenty of folks working for big tech companies in the bay for years, who are fine as employees, but not the kind of person you’d want on your own team if you were taking on a major project or challenge. It’s probable that a good part of them were once high-powered valley geeks, who possibly burnt out, got a family, or just simply languished for too long under corporate bureaucracy.
I like Hack because it’s good training, and helps you stay upbeat about your ability to solve problems through tech. Consider it cross-training for a currently corporate geek that would normally be working on 4-5 projects at the same time anyway.