I spent more hours awake than is healthy working at the inaugural Give Camp UK event last weekend. I’m not going to describe it here, hop over to their site if you are interested in what Give Camp UK is all about, and here if you want an introduction to the whole concept.
Anyway, like I said, that’s where I was last weekend. I led a great team which built a secure forum site, with answer voting, for the Young Minds charity. Yeah I know what you’re thinking: it took you a weekend to build that? Seriously? I mean just take one of the open source StackOverflow clones, skin it and you’re done, right?
Well yeah, but therein lies the dilemma. You can do that, and you can be done in a few hours, then you can build in more of the features that the charity wants, things that they consider “nice to haves” you can get it all done in the weekend, ‘cos that’s what it’s all about, right, delivering value for the charity?
Yes! Definitely! But then, on the other hand… you need devs to be enthusiastic about the technology you’re using. You need them to be thinking, hey that project uses cool tech, tech that I want to learn and get some experience on. Also, if you catch the interest of the devs, then not only do they want to join your team for the weekend, they are going to want to stick around after the weekend is finished and work on the project going forward. So, even though you may not get so much done at the actual weekend, the charity wins in the long run, ‘cos the devs stick around to work on the project in their spare time. As they are doing that, they are building real world experience in the tech that they are interested in, which might enhance their CV in the future. Every one wins!
Anyone reading this want to stick around after the weekend and work on a skinned StackOverflow site? Nah, didn’t think so.
So what did I do? Did I go for maximising value to the charity for the 48 or so hours of the event, or did I have my eye on the long game?
Was I right? Well we, pretty much, finished the project during the weekend and the devs are continuing to push stuff to the Git repo, but it’s really too early to tell.
So, what would you have done? Let me know in the comments.