New event types that disrupt the way we do things

In recent years, there have been a surge of new types of events that have caused a disruption within the traditional way things are done in the events industry. The two biggest of these that we are going to discuss today are hackathons and unconferences.


Hackathons, also known as codefest, hackfest, or a hack day, is a sprint event where people within the software development and computer programming industries—including experts in certain subjects, project managers, interface designers, and graphic designers—cooperate to work on a software project. Hardware components can also be the focus on rarer occasions. These events can last anywhere between a day and up to a week. Although the main goal is to create a prototype, there are still social and educational purposes to hackathons. Generally, there is a certain focus within hackathons—including targeting certain audience demographics, an application or its API, an operating system, and a specific programming language.

The first time the term Hackathon was used was in June 1999 in Calgary, with a cryptographic development event featuring ten developers working together. They were trying to bypass any legal issues which stemmed from cryptographic software exporting regulations. After this event, around five more have been held each year throughout the world, with the aims of advancing technology development.

In the latter part of the 2000s, these hackathon events rapidly grew in popularity, with capitalists and companies seeing them as a good way to develop software technology quickly, as well as locating funding and innovative areas. GroupMe is one of the biggest companies that originated from a hackathon (stemming from the 2010 TechCrunch Disrupt conference), which was acquired for $85 million by Skype. Another monumental occasion was when Adobe brought Nitobi in 2011. Even the Like button on Facebook originates from a hackathon.


Unconference or open space conference is a loosely structured meeting that is driven by the participants themselves. It applies to a variety of meetings and gatherings that are not bound to aspects typically found at more traditional conferences such as top down-organizations, presentations by sponsors, and fees.

It was at the yearly XML developers conference that the term unconference first started, back in 1998. Lenn Pryor started talking about BloggerCon but it didn’t start becoming popular until Dave Winer, the organizer of BloggerCon started using it in a write up after April 2004.

One of the earliest unconferences was Foo Camp, organized by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Winge on October 2003, the latter of whom used her experiences of open space to begin developing the formula. BarCamp occurred in 2005 with many of the attendees from previous events producing it. BarCamp, Foo Camp, and BloggerCon were the main groups to help establish the term unconference.

Unconferences are typically arranged by those attending the events at the start of the meeting. The time and space can be claimed by anyone wishing to start a discussion on a topic. Open discussions instead of a sole speaker presenting a topic to an entire room is the main feature, although other formats are acceptable. Unconferences are especially useful when those attending have specialized knowledge in the subjects to be discussed.

Looking to organize a hackathon or unconference in Singapore? An events company can help you in finding an attractive venue, and getting the media to promote and cover the event.