What the Hack? The rise of fast money for smart code!

I recently had the pleasure of speaking about Minimob to a large crowd of enthusiastic developers, animators and even film producers at the IPCC 2014 (Intellectual Property Creative Contest) event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – and it got me thinking about prize ‘hacking’ as an emerging force in code creation and IP commercialization.

From a neutral point of view, it does appear that the term “hacking”, which was previously ‘bad’ (and yes, the iCloud issue has brought that connotation back into sharp focus) is now infact ‘good’. As such, to “hack” more often than not, is being used as the quintessential positive keyword to help generate buzz for those corporations (and governments) looking for coding talent, and fresh ideas. Indeed, according to Wiki, ‘the word “hackathon” is a portmanteau of the words “hack” and “marathon”, where “hack” is used in the sense of playful, exploratory programming, not its alternate meaning as a reference to computer crime.’

Given the overwhelming industry and human shift towards developing software solutions that mainly service smart devices – and the universal accessibility of thousands of API’s – as well as ‘open’ Android platforms; software engineers and what they can devise, have been placed firmly in the spotlight, with their skills getting high-priced attention from the “men in suits.”

This was demonstrated by the IPCC event in KL where the stated aim is: “to unearth and enhance the capability of local talent in terms of the development of new intellectual property (IP) and help spur the growth of the creative multimedia industry… Ultimately, seven winners will be awarded a RM$60,000 grant each to support the development” of their Apps.

Looking around and also slightly ahead, at present anywhere in the world you can find a myriad of hacking contests, all seeking to generate more life and creativity in the App Economy. For example, during AppsWorld Europe in London, there will again be a Hackfest covering three business areas with a sizable prize of GBP10,000 up for grabs.

So, this prize-fighting trend that’s specifically designed to entice developers is fairly all-encompassing; with businesses, associations, institutions – and even government agencies large-and-small running their very own Hackfests.

Likewise, Mobile Network Operators themselves are embracing the ‘smart enabler’ philosophy, something reflected in the growth of TADSummit globally (Telecom Application Developers). Even to the point in Southeast Asia, with the likes of Ooredoo providing incubators to help coders turn their Apps into genuine businesses that can potentially thrive in a tough ecosystem.

The real challenge and excitement is also neatly highlighted with the recent WIP announcement: The Speed Hack Challenge will pit teams of 2-3 against a set of tough, strictly time-limited coding challenges, created by participating API providers, to compete for USD$2,000 in prizes. The winning team will take USD$1,500… On your marks, get set, CODE!

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