ETHOnline: Why Hackathons Matter

Nov 10, 2019 · 4 min read


  • We’re launching ETHOnline, a remote hackathon series from ETHGlobal
  • We’ve got a vision for how online hackathons can capture the magic of ETHGlobal events: exciting, collaborative spaces for creative work
  • The first ETHOnline event will focus on DeFi, scheduled for early 2020

Why Hackathons Matter

ETHNYC, May 2019

Writing software is a creative act.

This isn’t widely understood. But in fact, hacking is a lot like painting.

In both, it isn’t always obvious what the “right” things to create are. Sometimes, multiple pieces need to be unexpectedly combined before something valuable is produced. Paul Graham wrote more about this comparison in his essay, Hackers and Painters.

Because hacking is like painting, hackathons are valuable. Hackers want to explore and try new things. To make something new without the stress of a looming work deadline or product spec. Sometimes the path to creating something valuable is to just try and create something cool, because you want to.

ETHWaterloo 2 — Nov 9, 2019

In some parts of the tech industry, the culture of hacking has diminished. Many tech stacks are mature, and the focus of innovation has moved to sales, marketing, and integrations.

But in the blockchain space, hacking culture is having a renaissance. Every few months hundreds of developers from all over the world gather to build on top of Ethereum, the worlds largest programmable blockchain. In 2019 alone, more than 500 hacks have been built at Ethereum hackathons.

The additive, composable nature of Ethereum makes the creative act of hacking even more compelling. It’s multiplayer painting, where everyone gets to work on the same canvass.

ETHIndia, August 2019

Remarkably, the Ethereum ecosystem is absorbing the work being done at these weekend events. Because this industry is in such early stages, there is an incredible amount of blue-sky territory to explore.

We have seen new infrastructure built, new startups founded, remote teams make dramatic progress with in-person dev sprints, and crazy far-fetched ideas tested and refined.

Hackathons are fun, but fun isn’t the only result: the ETHGlobal community meaningfully advances Ethereum every single weekend.

Doing ETHOnline right

Our team has been running hackathons for 5+ years, and Ethereum hackathons exclusively since 2017. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what makes for a great hackathon.

Now, we want to take what we’ve learned and capture the same magic in a new online format:

  • We want online hackathons where the hacker experience always comes first. Where educational resources, community interaction, and mentorship are central features. Online hackathons should be more than a mailing list.
  • We want online hackathons where hackers make new, meaningful relationships. We want hackers to meet co-founders, mentors, friends, and future colleagues.
  • We want online hackathons that are fun. Where people build things they care about, hacks that scratch their creative itch, that urge to make something.

And finally, we want our online hackathons to build on, and connect with, the broader ETHGlobal event series. Expect to see a tight integration between our online and meatspace events.

We view ETHOnline as part of a larger trend. Across the whole tech industry, there has been an explosion of tools that make collaborative remote work easy and fun. Tools like Figma Multiplayer and are examples of a trend that we expect to continue, that make remote collaboration not just feasible, but actually excellent.

We want to bring that same movement to Ethereum’s hackathon culture, with the help of the broader Ethereum ecosystem, and our growing developer community.

See you in early 2020.

— ETHGlobal


Written by


Onboarding thousands of developers to the Ethereum ecosystem. Supported by L4, SV Angel, and the Ethereum Foundation.

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