Silicon Valley to Bega Hackagong
Biohackers making yeast cultures for sustainable food, air & medicine.
Game Developers enabling public venues and communities with VR MMO’s
Teachers reinventing how we look after our pets through tech.
Hackers & kids teaming up, making personal mesh wifi enabled LAZER tag with Wii remotes.
Solo coders building award winning apps for government data collection.
The CEO of Bega Cheese, IBM’s Catalyst Startup Programs Manager, Politicians & Block-chain Political Parties.
Morning swims, and beers at the campsite.
Welcome to Hackagong Bega.
|This weekend, I bussed down to the coast from Sydney / Wollongong on “The Innovation Bus” with a bunch of Sydney / Wollongong Hackers.
Which was really just a bunch of devs, hustlers & artists talking philosophy, drinking beer & playing Space-Team. Kinda like a holiday with hackers. A holiday hackathon – Holathon? Hackiday?
But, where actually is Bega?
So for those of you who dont know..
Bega is here.
For a lot of people, travelling that far for a hackathon in a place that doesnt sound too techy seems like a lot of effort. What could be down there?
Did you hack cheese?
Okay, congrats. You made the connection between Bega cheese, and the town. Very funny. There is actually a lot more to Bega than the cheese.
Did you know Bega is actually surrounded by some of the most beautiful land in Australia?
Did you know Bega has some of the best, and most un-used surfbreaks in the world?
Bega is that part of Australia where that amazing stereotype foreigners like to put on us comes to life! Where everyone surfs, the weather is amazing, the beaches are literally perfect, the locals are friendlier than Canadians and the wildlife is everywhere.
Hackathon or no, if you haven’t been to Bega, make sure you change that.
Wait, you said BioHackers!?
No, they didnt make cows with chocolate milk.
They actually brought power-tools, tin cans, tubes, large syringes, giant glowy mushrooms and DIY’ed the shit out of bioHacking. Their DIY Bioreactor automates the culturing of microbes for the production of secondary metabolites, proteins and other things. Which they are currently adapting to grow algae and sea monkeys. They weren’t the only abnormally impressive people there.
Before the pitches started, my team was fairly confident we had a potentially winning hack with our beautiful Virtual Reality & BuzzyTV game that could be placed in venues to engage customers, keeping them around for longer.
But that confidence was squashed with each and ever pitch, getting more and more competitive.
A local startup was reinventing data connectivity with mesh networks for rural areas just outside of the NBN or other connections.
Chat-bots were designed for Facebook’s new messenger service to provide train times.
Apps designed to warn you of dangers to your pets. Notify the councils of pot holes, or crowd-source rural transportation.
Lochuallan, a kid who couldn’t have been more than 14, teamed up with a local hacker Isaac to build a wifi enabled LAZER tag. They used small personal battery powered wifi nodes, communicating on a mesh network designed by another participants startup, to communicate the received shots made by their hacked wii remotes used as laser tag guns.
I have travelled around the world, attending, sponsoring and running hackthons from France to London, Berlin, Auckland, Amsterdam, Sydney & Brisbane. Hackathons with up to 2000 people in the US, San Fransisco, New York, Silicon Valley, Berkeley, Michigan & Denver. But I never would have thought that Bega, a small town in rural Australia could put on one of the most enjoyable hackathons I’ve ever attended.