The other day was our company-wide Hack Day. It must be said that Hack Day at Kickstarter is an all-encompassing affair. For a single workday, we work on projects that we otherwise wouldn’t have the time or space for in our everyday schedules. We collaborate in new ways and learn new things — sometimes, it’s a crash course in a totally new skill.

This year, there were music projects, art projects, Kickstarter office improvement projects, engineering projects (of course), and everything in between. We had a blast.

What even is happening here?

For starters, there were four Kickstarter projects launched that day: 

  • our evening with four thirty three, by Hayley Rosenblum. You know the classic John Cage composition 4’33″? It’s a recording of musicians playing nothing, where the audience (with its rustlings, noises, and shifts) becomes the score. Hayley decided she would record a new version of it, because “we are all capable of making something beautiful and producing art of our own.”
  • 8-Hour Comic, by Jamie Tanner. In the comics world, there exists a challenge to draw a comic in 24 hours. Jamie decided to draw a mini-comic in eight. We’ve already seen him ink a page so we’re pretty sure he can do it.
  • Cold 97, by Nicole He and Nitsuh Abebe. We all have feelings, and pop music lets us channel those feelings. Nicole and Nitsuh made a way to translate your feelings directly, with the use of pop music and bananas. It’s complicated, we know, but it’s real (we tried it). 
  • Portraits over Gchat, by Jake Loeterman. All day, Jake hung out with people on Google Hangouts, drawing their portraits using the NeoLucida. Many were friends and coworkers, but some were strangers, too. The project resulted in over 40 individual drawings. 

Jake, with finished portraits

Then there were data projects. In this one, Ben, Emma, Jackson, Katie, and Kevin made a visualization of all the pledges ever made on Kickstarter over the last five years. Each pledge is marked by a dot, and it was awesome seeing the dots spread across the world. See for yourself: 

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Two people worked on accessibility-related projects: David P. made our project editor accessible for people with impaired vision (look out for a post about his larger work on accessibility in the future). And Ryan made a Morse code version of Kickstarter: using the space bar, people can tap out Morse on the website(!) “It allows users to get back to the roots of information transfer by using a technology that predates the keyboard by at least one hundred years,” he said. 

There was also a super useful calendar hack: Tieg was tired of the unwieldiness of Google Calendar when we booked rooms for meetings, so he made it prettier and more functional. Now, instead of just guessing what letter corresponded to what room (or trying to memorize it), we can look at an actual map of where each one is. Progress! 

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And it wouldn’t be Kickstarter without a handful of library projects (seriously, many of us are book nerds) — Maris began documenting the fiction from our office library (follow the progress here), Bridget catalogued the library’s children’s books, and Margot organized all the books in our collection that were made with Kickstarter.

Cold 97 before the bananas

Hack Day doesn’t have to be functional. It can be a chance to explore ideas and far-fetched notions that might not ever go anywhere, but this year we saw so many projects that can improve life in office office as well as your use of the site. It was inspiring and also sometimes pretty weird (in a good way).

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