There are many things I miss about my college days, but if there was one thing I miss more than anything else it was the energy of the computer science lab late night the day before a big project was due. A slurry of creative minds working at full speed to make something out of nothing. The clasp-fizz of Mountain Dew and Red Bull cans. The aroma of Pizza or other snacks. Music drowned out by the clicking and clacking of mice and keys as line after line of code is written, tested, written, and tested again. The back and forth of ideas for how to carry out the task, and the shared frustration as someone screams “why isn’t it working?” The sudden euphoria when you realize you’ve actually created something, and the surprise when you look at the clock and its beyond 3 am. It was a magical time, when you could sit down at 4 or 5 in the afternoon and less than 12 hours later produce a fully functioning piece of software that was sure to land you a big fat A. In those moments we didn’t know nor care how difficult the task before us was, we knew if we just put our minds to work we could get it done… and we did.
Now, 3 years and nearly 5 months removed from those nights in the computer science lab, and coding seems so much less magical than it used to. Much of the passion I have for coding has diminished, and I am left dreaming up ways to recapture the energy of those late nights on campus. In the past year or so, as my Twitter usage has grown, I began to encounter tweets about various “hack night” events scheduled in larger cities. There is little information about hack nights if you Google them, but here are a few of the better pages I found on the subject:
I believe this is exactly the type of thing that could bring back some of that energy and passion I once had for this subject. The problem is I am not sure I could convince anyone to go along with it. I have pitched this idea to a few friends/colleagues of mine, but I was met with much skepticism. They point out that it would be difficult to get everyone on the same page, they doubt we could really accomplish anything, and they note their fatigue with already spending their day at the keyboard. I fear they have forgotten the time we spent in the computer science labs, and what we were able to do then. Just imagine what we could do now with our experience!
Recently, a senior coworker shared his belief in a diminished vigor among the developers we work with to put forth new and innovative ideas. The first article I linked to above seemed to prescribe hack nights to help combat such a thing. With that, I think it might be worth while to pitch the idea of sponsoring a hack night for our developers as a team building exercise with the hopes of renewing some of the energy we all had when we graduated from college. I really think spending even one night a month getting together to learn and hack away on the things we personally want to work on would do wonders for productivity.
I’ll let you know if it works out.