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Consistent innovation and the development and testing of new ideas are the lifeblood behind any successful organization, project, or individual. When new ideas surface, it is best to nurture, develop, and once ready, share them with the rest of the world to bring further inspiration. But the best ideas don’t often come from one person, or even one company. They are the result of collaboration — partnerships not just inside an entity, but with external parties, organizations, customers, and end users.

It may be difficult to believe, but the first hackathon — an event where software developers put their coding skills to work — was held more than 20 years ago, when 10 developers came together in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with the goal of writing a program for the Palm Pilot, a personal digital assistant (PDA) that existed in the days before the iPhone. Since then, countless hackathons have been held around the world — inspiring cross-border collaboration that never could have been imagined, and bringing new innovations, ideas, and thought processes to push boundaries and think laterally.

The DFINITY Foundation, which is the primary developer behind the Internet Computer blockchain, recently hosted DFINIHack, a two-day internal hackathon. The event was DFINITY’s second internal hackathon, succeeding the June 2020 Tungsten event

Like hackathons of years past, DFINITY was not looking to host just any hackathon. Rather, this particular event looked to achieve several objectives following the completion of the competition. These goals included:

  • Inspiring the creation of new use cases for the Internet Computer
  • Provide an overall update to improve the developer experience — through assessment of existing resources and documentation
  • Promote DFINITY’s builder culture

Anyone who has ever witnessed or participated in a hackathon knows that it is adrenaline filled and chaotically fast. With teams working late into the night fueled with nothing but coffee, energy drinks, and pizza, participants are pushed to their physical and mental limits in creating, testing, debugging, and eventually presenting an end product. DFINIHack was no exception. It was intense to the very end, and each of the teams brought their very best during this two-day competition sprint.

The Winning Projects

Alas, despite the 18 teams that participated across five different time zones, only three winners could be crowned. Among the winners included projects that:

  • Focused on the synchronization of data across all of a user’s devices via end-to-end encryption (Project IC Vault)
  • Produced an app to securely store and manage a user’s identity and sensitive information; users could also directly authenticate through this app on-chain and thereby obtain access to other attributes (Project PrivIC)
  • Resulted in the creation of a decentralized application (Dapp) that elegantly builds canister smart contracts from only a few lines of code. After the build, a simple button is clicked to deploy directly to DFINITY’s Internet Computer blockchain (Project Sidekick)

The Runners-Up

Recognizing the incredibly hard work and effort put in by all of the teams, DFINITY wanted to acknowledge additional projects which also made an impact on the event and brought forward interesting and creative new use cases for the DFINITY IC blockchain. This recognition came through acknowledging three runners-up. Among this group included projects that: 

  • Developed a public algorithm for search engines to use. This algorithm is defined by advertisers, developers, and entrepreneurs, and finally removes the opacity that search engines today have when running their results through secret algorithms (Project DeFind)
  • Provides time-stamped notarization services, allowing users to prove the provenance of documents (Project IC Notary)
  • Produced a Proof of Concept (PoC) for talking to DFINITY’s Internet Computer blockchain over legal protocols. This project also allows developers to boot virtual machines (VM) directly from canisters, presenting a boot infrastructure that is completely decentralized and fail-safe (Project IC Netboot)

Looking Ahead

In just two short days, a multitude of new ideas, concepts, and projects were successfully developed, hashed out, and presented to an expert panel of judges. This panel, which comprised DFINITY’s top technical talent, also included Dominic Williams, DFINITY’s founder and chief scientist.

Needless to say, the judging panel was extremely pleased and impressed with the outcome, and is looking forward to future hackathons to come, as users become more familiar with DFINITY, the Internet Computer, and the possibilities enabled by decentralized blockchain technologies.

Like many other organizations, DFINITY has clearly recognized that bringing influencers from all corners of the globe to internal ways of working collectively inspires everyone to visualize things in a different way. Hosting hackathon events has not only been a great way to build community, but to also continuously generate fresh and relevant ideas — which simply would not be possible by working siloed within teams.

In the months and years to come, the blockchain community has much to look forward to in terms of new ideas and new concepts coming to life. DFINITY, with its hackathons and community engagement, will most certainly be at the forefront of these exciting developments.

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