We’re in Armenia, at the Social Innovation Camp Armenia / Mardamej (warning: Armenian), and this article just came out on Global Voices. It makes lots of good points about the difficulty of running hackathons — and htey are hard, not matter how much planning goes into them, getting the right people together is a challenge, and creating all the right fertile ground isn’t easy, either.
That’s what we try to do with Social Innovation Camps.
A Social Innovation Camp, however, is not a hackathon – we share some of the DNA with a hackathon, but we put most of our work into the weeks and months before the weekend itself.
Four months before the hack weekend we open a call for ideas then we run around trying to find as many ideas as possible from diverse sources. We run idea generation workshops in the community and encourage people to submit their ideas for the Camp.
We then select the six best ideas about a month before the actual hack weekend, and spend those last five weeks building teams around each idea. We make sure we recruit not only developers and designers but also experts in the social problem that is being addressed and people who are experiencing that problem first hand, along with mentors and business development experts.
We try to get on side specific experts as well — we had doctors who worked in blood banks in Malaysia and we’ve got members of the Ministry of Health coming this weekend.
The other things we have found really important is having a space where everyone can come together as well as a break out zone for each team and, of course, lots of really good food!