The Blitzweekend was quite a special event. When I first saw the announcements, I thought it was like our CodeFests. In fact, the concept is very similar, but the community is completely different. It’s simply not the same people. In CodeFests, most of us are from the Open Source community. Our goal is to play with technology, collaborate on projects and work together to learn. At the Blitzweekend, this kind of collaboration did not exist so much. Outside of the Tikiwiki room, all projects were isolated. It wasn’t as much about technology as it was about business.
I still had a great time and met with very interesting people, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. Our goal for the week-end was to make a first release of Tikiwiki 1.10, which we decided to label as beta. Otherwise, it was just a great opportunity to get together and meet other contributors. The Rest of Blitzweekend was targeted towards creating a product, starting a company and making a pitch about it. The whole competition thing wasn’t for us, but I thought it was quite nice to see all those ideas.
However, it was hard to evaluate the merit of the projects. Some projects had excellent ideas and made a great pitch, but I couldn’t be convinced that they actually got anything working during the week-end. At best a nice user interface with functional links. No proofs it actually works beyond navigation. In other cases, the projects did realize something over the week-end, but it seemed like a lot was already prepared before the first day. I was a little disappointed by the lack of attention the projects made out of self-interest and passion received. Seemed like the fact that the project was useful to you and was a nice accomplishment in a week-end was of no importance. Unless you were hunting for millions, making a presentation was a waste of time.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the event and have nothing against entrepreneurship, but I do wish the next editions will leave a little more space for technology and collaboration. On Friday night, there was a moment where people had to raise their hands depending on if they were designers, entrepreneurs or developers. The developers and designers in the room were litterally a minority. How do you actually expect to get a product out the door with such a proportion? Too much focus on business will drive developers away. Sure having a contest for business plans and prototypes is nice, but I don’t think that closing the door to the technical community is such a good idea. I think the first step would be to accept that not everyone takes on the challenge of developping something over the weekend with the sole idea of making millions out of it.
The second step would be to make sure that collaboration can actually happen. If it’s not to be with other people and share something, the challenge can be taken from home and does not require anything else. I wouldn’t have had a problem with answering a few questions and helping out other teams during the week-end.
Anyway, the whole thing was very well organized. Location was suitable, although a little far from downtown, and the shared room was a nice place to meet with the other participants (at least, those that ended up taking breaks).