AWS Official Blog

Big Data Hackathon at SPLASH/OOPSLA (Portland, October 2011)

by Jeff Barr | on | in Events | | Comments

I’ll be running a Big Data Hackathon at the SPLASH/OOPSLA Conference in Portland, Oregon next month.

Hackathons are participatory event. You don’t show up to watch or to hang out; you show up to lead or to join a team of other developers to imagine, create, and build something cool and useful in the course of a single day. This may sound impossibly ambitious. It is not. You can get a lot done when you can ignore your inbox and simply focus on the task at hand. The ability to tap in to high-level services certainly helps, as does the fact that everyone shows up expecting to work.

We’ll hack from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM on Sunday, October 23rd. The day will be structured as follows:

  1. Introduction, welcome and agenda
  2. Short sponsor talks.
  3. Idea pitches from the audience.
  4. Team formation.
  5. Hacking.
  6. Team presentations.
  7. Judging.

This particular hackathon will be focused on the concept of “Big Data.” Think about taking Columbia University’s 500 GB Million Song  Dataset (conveniently available as an AWS Public Data Set) and doing something interesting with it, such as finding songs that slowly build in intensity. What could you do with a collection of 250,000 Material Safety Data Sheets, some economics data, some gene sequences, a US census, or 80 years of daily global weather measurements?

Attendees are free to use the technology and data sets of their choice. I will be supplying the teams with some AWS usage credits to make it easy to use EC2, Elastic MapReduce, and our other services.

If this sounds like a great way to spend a Sunday, then you need to do the following:

  1. Sign up for the Hackathon. Space is limited, but we still have a few seats left.
  2. Start thinking about what you would like to build and how you would like to pitch it.
  3. Consider signing up for an AWS account.
  4. Show up and have a great time.

I am also looking for an additional sponsor or two. The ideal sponsor would have a product or service that would be of interest to someone who is working with Big Data. Please get in touch with me (email to and we can discuss the details.

I hope to see you in Portland next month!

— Jeff;