Ep. 105 The MongoDB World 2022 Hackathon
Michael Lynn: Welcome back to the show. My name is Michael Lynn, your host, and this is the MongoDB Podcast. Today on the show, we welcome back Shane McAllister, he's got a couple of friends with him. And today, we're going to talk about an awesome event that's coming up. It's the MongoDB World Hackathon. I'm going to talk all about how you can participate in this hackathon. What is a hackathon? Well, hackathon's an interesting word. It's a portmanteau. It's where you combine two different words, the word hacking and marathon, hackathon. That pretty much sums it up. You're going to write some code for a period of time and it's a competition so you can win some prizes. So Shane's going to tell us all about it, what the parameters are, when it begins, how you can participate, and how you can avail yourself of some additional resources. So stay tuned for that. Speaking of MongoDB World, it's coming, coming back to New York City, actually. The future runs on MongoDB. This is a conference for creators, disruptors, and transformers of tomorrow. You can register today, visit mongodb.com/ world- 2022. Make sure you use the code PODCAST to get a 25% discount. Visit mongodb. com/ world- 2022. Don't forget to use the code PODCAST. Well, welcome back to the show, Shane. It's great to have you on the podcast.
Shane McAllister: Yeah, thank you for having me back again. I appreciate that. It's always good to join you here. I'm here not in a Realm, guys, as I usually turn up in and talk about all things Realm and mobile. I'm here to talk about something completely different, the MongoDB World Hackathon. And as usual, I brought backup, I brought along two friends, two other developer advocates here at MongoDB. So Mark Smith and Adrienne Tacke are joining me as well.
Michael Lynn: Fantastic. Well, let's do some intros. I think both Mark and Adrienne have been on the podcast previously, but let's go through some intros. Mark, you want to tell folks who you are and what you do?
Mark Smith: Hi, I'm a developer advocate at MongoDB based in Edinburgh.
Michael Lynn: And Adrienne.
Adrienne Tacke: Hi, I'm Adrienne. I am based in Las Vegas, also a developer advocate. And I think the last time I was here, I was speaking possibly with Nick about game dev, but I'm also here not to talk about that, so there's that.
Michael Lynn: Great. Well, let's get into it. So we're talking about a hackathon. Hackathons are one of my favorite activities and this is a special one around MongoDB World. Shane, give us the skinny. What's going on with this hackathon?
Shane McAllister: So MongoDB World is kind of our core event that MongoDB have. It's on in June this year and returns to New York City. So the last two years, we've been virtual with that. So fingers crossed, everything goes okay and we can be back in person in New York. It's on from the seventh to ninth of June. And in essence, what we're trying to do prior to MongoDB World, where there's so many talks and sessions going on, we want to engage our developers before that. So we've come up with a hackathon in the weeks running up to MongoDB World. And we're really, really looking forward to this because I think we've both picked an interesting subject and a theme for this hackathon as well too. But I suppose before that, and look, I know this is predominantly a developer audience, but for those that may or may not be familiar with hackathons, for me, and for anybody who is a developer, they are a superb way to collaborate and get together and create something usually over a very short space of time in the in- person world. But because we're doing this as a virtual hackathon, we're allowing for a lot longer for this to happen. So we have a buildup to MongoDB World in the MongoDB World Hackathon that we are going to start on April the 11th, and it's going to run all the way through until May 20th.
Michael Lynn: Well, that's great news. And I think it is exciting. And I think for those folks that have not participated in a hackathon, maybe talk a little bit about how you get into it. How is this thing going to kick off? What are the parameters? When is it going to run? How long do we have to work on the projects? Are there any other details that we can share with the listeners?
Shane McAllister: Sure. So for those that have done hackathons in person in the past, everybody looks forward to doing that. You gather together in a conference or a hotel, or perhaps in a company because a lot of companies sponsor hackathons on their own premises. And that's great because you get a whole variety of people coming together to solve a common problem and to compete against each other as well too. So usually, people break out into small teams, maybe two to four people and they solve a common problem that usually happens over probably 24 hours, maybe 48 hours. Sometimes the 24- hour ones are hilarious because people hacking all night together and being fed a diet of pizza and soft drinks and beer and by the next day, they're all worn out. But in the, I suppose, virtual world that we've been occupying, everybody for the last two years, this is really hard to arrange. So we've had to move online with our hackathons. So we are starting, as I said earlier, this hackathon on April the 11th. So this podcast should be out in time for people to understand that we're starting in a few days time and we are able to do it all on, and this is really, really important for us at MongoDB, we're able to do it all on the MongoDB community and forums. So what we're going to do there is we will have a landing page up on the MongoDB World website that will lead you through into our forums for registering. You can register, come as an individual, come as a group. If you join as an individual, we have space in our forums whereby you can put up your own details and your own skills. And therefore, you become an interested party to potentially others who have projects and ideas looking for your skillset. Conversely, if you have an idea, but you're looking for teammates to join you, then you can put up the idea, brief description, a pitch, for want of a better word, and also put into our forum there the sort of skills that you're looking for. So if you're a web developer or React developer and you want to also have a companion mobile app, for example, you can say," Well, I'm looking for Swift or Kotlin experience here as well too." The key thing for any hackathon, and this is a really, really exciting part of this hackathon, is a theme. So the theme essentially for this year for MongoDB's hackathon is news, data as news. We're all glued to the world news for good or for bad at the moment, and we know that there's a lot going on. So we have decided to leverage this. And the beauty about working with news is it's an ever- changing data set. So usually, for hackathons in person, it's quite a small data set, it's pretty static, people get to work with that and you get a flavor of working with data. But MongoDB is used to working with really, really large data sets and we've picked one of the biggest. There's a project out there called GDELT and it gathers data and news from over 100 different sources in 65 different languages around the world that is updated every 15 minutes. It's absolutely enormous, but don't take my word for it, both Mark and Adrienne have been working directly on this data set. And I know Mark has a lot more information to impart about what GDELT stands for and how long it's been up there and how you work with it.
Mark Smith: Yes, I do. GDELT is a global database of events, language, and tone. And basically, they are monitoring news from all around the world constantly. That is print, broadcast, and web news sources in 100 different languages, 65 of those are instantly translated. And then they've got some kind of machine learning algorithm that extracts events from those news sources. So you get an article that kind of says," People are protesting against their government because of tax," and that'll then be encoded as one or more events. So a protest is a type of event. They use this ontology called CAMEO to encode them. So it's kind of you sign a number that suggests whether it's a protest against a specific type of thing, and they're all kind of hierarchical, these verbs. But it's a huge data source. I was trying to work out how big it was earlier and I think I've come to the number, like two terabytes, just for the data going back to 2015. So the current version of the database is version two, it's a bunch of zip files that you can download. And yeah, the majority of it is from the last seven years. And that's what we've been working with mostly, but actually, they have data going all the way back to 1979.
Michael Lynn: Now is this the gdeltproject. org? Is that what we're talking about?
Mark Smith: Yeah, absolutely.
Michael Lynn: So for folks listening, it's G- D- E- L- Tproject. org, if you want to check that out.
Mark Smith: Yeah. That's a lot slower to say so we've just been saying GDELT. So I don't know if that's even how it's supposed to be pronounced. This is the problem with working with text all the time, isn't it?
Michael Lynn: All right. So we've given information about the theme and some data sources. Is it required that folks use that data set?
Mark Smith: Yeah, I think at the moment, we're trying to say everybody should work with this data set, but I think it offers so much potential because not only is it a broad data set with huge amounts of data, it's also got that time element to it. So not only does it go back in time a long way, but it's being updated every 15 minutes. So you can build something on it that's looking at just the very recent events as they're happening and kind of flag up things that are happening right now, or you could do analysis sort of longitudinally over the whole history of the news source. So I think there's a lot of possibilities there. Also, the possibilities of combining it with other data sets and trying to extract more knowledge from that. There's just a whole load of potential around this one data source that we're quite excited about.
Michael Lynn: Who do we think can jump in and begin submitting projects and what are the scope of projects that we've seen submitted in the past?
Shane McAllister: So as for who can join, pretty much anybody. It is a hackathon, so you need to have some sort of technical skills to bring to the table. But essentially, hacketing is about satisfying your own inquisitive streak and building something for fun and exploration, which is why we've picked this team. So the challenge really is about kind of getting rid of those inhibitions, which are hard to do, Mike, right, you're correct. But the challenge is about joining in and kind of taking part. And as I said earlier, if you come with an idea, we'll try and find some team members for you. And if you come without an idea, we'll try and match you up with some good ideas and you'll be able to nearly audition those pictures and those proposals. And in essence, what we also are hoping to do, and I know the others will talk about this a little bit, is you're going to learn a lot of MongoDB on the way. You don't need to have MongoDB knowledge before entering this hackathon as well too. And that's super important because the projects, obviously, we're looking for the entries to the hackathon will be built on MongoDB using the GDELT data set. But we can lead those projects in many exciting directions and there's loads of possibilities.
Mark Smith: Yeah. The nice thing about the fact that people will hopefully be working in teams is you can have lots of people at different levels. So there's no need to have any imposter syndrome about this because the teams can take really advanced programmers and really beginning programs, put them together, and hopefully, everybody benefits in that kind of environment. It's all about the creativity and the sort of interest you can bring to the project that you're working on.
Adrienne Tacke: And if that's not enough, we're definitely going to be there the entire time. So if you don't know anything about MongoDB, if you don't know anything about GDELT, that's what Mark and I have been working on to try to condense that data set and to also help you out with getting started with MongoDB. So there are all these opportunities for you to ask questions in the forums, to come join us in our weekly office hours. You'll definitely have help every step of the way. So if that help eases your fears, it's certainly a really good hackathon to start, especially if it's your first one.
Michael Lynn: So wait a minute, office hours, how does that work?
Adrienne Tacke: So we are planning on helping out throughout the entire time that the hackathon is on. Since it is a global hackathon, obviously, we'll have people joining in at different hours all over the world. So we're trying to help with that by having our own team who is also globally distributed be available for that. So we'll always be checking the forums. If you have a question, if you get stuck, if you're like," How do I import this into MongoDB Atlas? How do you set up a cluster?" All the things that you may need to get started with this hackathon, or even if it's just to ask," Hey, am I heading in the right direction?" or to look for team members, all of that can be done through the community forums. And if you don't get a chance to ask it in the forums, or you feel it's a little bit more complex and want face- to- face time, that's what those weekly office hours are for. So we're planning to do that via a live stream. We'll definitely send out the schedule for that when those are going to be happening. So keep an eye out for that if you want to join us for that and to also hear other people and possibly get other ideas, or even find your next team member from one of those office hours.
Shane McAllister: That's true. And we're going to continue this activity throughout the duration of the hackathon. So it is a six- week window, April 11th through to May 20th, but you can join at any time because all the live streams and office hours that we're going to do are going to be recorded and up and available on our forums as well. So we want to do as much as we can live, but we understand that this is a global project and people are in different time zones and different places and people learning suits different methods and media as well too. So we're trying to help everybody out as much as possible. And the good thing about running it on our community forums as well too is it won't be just looking for help from those of us in MongoDB who are involved in the hackathon, it will be help from the community as well too. And I think that's kind of the bigger thing that happens. And it takes a little bit of extra effort in a forum community world than it does in real life. In real life, we can go around the tables and we can drag people and pair them together and find out who has a problem and sit down beside them and help them out. But in the forums, our intent is that we make it as easy as possible. So we've created a lot of new features in our forums. We've got some new wizards and some new templates for asking questions and proposing projects or proposing your team skills. We've got some new tags such as help wanted that you can put on any of your posts there. And in fact, they will triage across if you were to post elsewhere in our forums to look for some specific help. That help wanted tag will triage across the hackathon so we can pick that up as well too.
Michael Lynn: Okay. So we've mentioned the forums and the community a number of times, let's tell folks where to go. How do they get there?
Shane McAllister: So the first place to go to is to our MongoDB World website, which is mongodb.com/ world- 2022. If you go there, you will see on the main page, we will have a section there, but the easiest way is to go into the navbar and there's agenda and activities button there. If you click that, you'll see all of the agenda and all of the other activities, including the hackathon that's going on prior to World. Once you go there, there's a registration link. Once in there, that will take you through into our forums to do that registration. If you're already active on our forums, it's a simply one- click join. You will then join the MongoDB hackathon group, and you'll be straight into all of the help, all of the resources, and the topics and posts regarding our live streams and everything else that are going on.
Mark Smith: And if you're not already active on community. mongodb. com, you totally should be because it's the best place to go for help or to show off the things that you're doing. It's really where the people who work on MongoDB meet the people who are with MongoDB. So it's just a great place to hang out online.
Michael Lynn: It truly is. Now, when I think of a hackathon, I think of prizes. So are we offering anything up in terms of prizes for the competition?
Shane McAllister: Well, we have a number of prizes. We would love to think that people are joining the hackathon for epic meaning and calling, they want to be part of a community and they want to participate, but we also like rewarding good work. So we do have a number of prizes in mind that we're going to have an opportunity to give out. We have a subtitle of hack your way to world. The intent is that everything going well, we will be able to get the price winners to MongoDB World in New York. Now, that may not work for everybody. It's a global competition, it may not be possible to get visas in time. People may not be comfortable traveling in the current COVID situation as well too. So we've loads of other prices as well, tons of swag. Developers like swag, so we're going to have spot prizes in and around swag and we're going to have a number of one of the kind prizes. And we're also looking for participation, so we're trying to reward that as well too, and that we will have prizes for the best readme, the most contributions, the hackathon team members that were the most helpful for other teams, perhaps, the best documentation, the best design, et cetera. So when you finished your project, you will be submitting it in through our forums. The project submission will take the form of, essentially, a description, a short three- minute video of your project, and also a link to your repo where you've stored all the assets and code for your project as well too so that the MongoDB team can go and build it and verify the work that you've done.
Michael Lynn: I'm curious, can MongoDB employees participate in the hackathon or is this reserved for non- employees?
Shane McAllister: That would be very unfair if we allowed employees. No, employees can participate in the hackathon to help non- employees who are in the hackathon as much as possible. So it won't be just the core hackathon team on our forums, you'll see a lot of other MongoDB employees, and even some of our MongoDB champions there able and willing to help you out. And I think that's the benefit of us running it in our own community.
Michael Lynn: Well, I'm super excited about the hackathon and I look forward to helping out where I can. I'll be diving into the forums. You're going to hear about the hackathon over the next couple of weeks as it comes together and we'll continue to provide links. Make sure you check the show notes. There's going to be some links in there to resources that we talked about, the GDELT project and the hackathon, the forums. Shane, Mark, Adrienne, thank you so much for joining me. Is there anything else you'd like to say before we wrap?
Shane McAllister: From my side of things, we're looking to try and get as large an audience as possible. So if you've heard about this on the podcast, please share this with your friends and colleagues as well too. It will be a super fun way to spend your time. In- person hackathons, as I said earlier, can be quite condensed, but the six- week window that we have is there to gather as many participants as possible. And as long as you make your submission before the deadline, which is the end of the day, wherever you are in the world on May 20th, you're in the hackathon and in for the judging and potentially, the prizes.
Mark Smith: I'm just excited to get started and meet some new people and see what kind of things they create.
Adrienne Tacke: Likewise. I couldn't have said it better myself.
Michael Lynn: Great. Well, Shane, remind us of the dates one more time.
Shane McAllister: Okay. Obviously, this podcast will come out prior to the hackathon launching formally. We will be doing a live stream on Friday the 8th of April, so that will be the buildup. But the hackathon itself is open and launching properly on April 11th all the way through until May 20th. Now, our registrations will be open before April the 11th, we're trying to get as many people on board as possible. But as I said earlier, you're free to join at any time and you'll be able to catch up as long as you submit your final project before the deadline.
Michael Lynn: Okay. Sounds good. One more time, to get more information about MongoDB World, visit www. mongodb.com/ world- 2022. There's going to be a banner there for the agenda and activities. You can click that. That'll bring you through to the community, the forums. Thanks so much guys.
Mark Smith: Great to be here.
Shane McAllister: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
Adrienne Tacke: See ya.
Michael Lynn: Thanks once again, to Shane, to Mark, and to Adrienne for joining me today, talking about MongoDB World Hackathon. Head on over to mongodb. com/world-2022. Use the code PODCAST to register and receive 25% off of the current price. I hope to see you there. The podcast will be live from the event in New York City, June seventh to the ninth, mongodb. com/ world- 2022. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day.
MongoDB World Hackathon '22
Build your way to MongoDB World this year by competing in our hackathon. This year’s theme is “Data as news - A hackathon for information overload”. On this episode, Shane McAllister joins us along with Mark Smith, and Adrienne Tacke from the MongoDB Developer Relations team to talk about the MongoDB World Hackathon '22
Visit https://www.mongodb.com/world-2022/agenda-and-activities for more information.
Humanity faces massive challenges with news & information overload! Fortunately, there are public datasets that enable developers to build useful insights on top of public data. Put on your thinking hat, enter on your own or form a team, and participate in the largest MongoDB sponsored hackathon, bring your ideas to life and compete to win one-of-a-kind prizes.
The MongoDB World Hackathon is a 6 week long competition for the world's hackers, designers, and makers. The MongoDB World Hackathon is a great opportunity to gain experience with new technologies and learn new skills.
Submissions close at 5pm EST on May 20th.
Visit https://www.mongodb.com/world-2022/agenda-and-activities for more information.