In addition to studying how issue-oriented hackathons might contribute to the articulation of issues and the formation of publics, we are also interested in probing the existing and possible relationships between hackathons and design. Are hackathons a site of design? A mode of design? Or something altogether different?
One possibility is to consider hackathons as a mode of ad-hoc design: a design practice that is equally intentional and contingent. This ad-hoc design serves two purposes. First it enables a dynamic process of invention, distributed across events, and second, it facilitates experimentation in orienting people and resources toward issues.
This research is ongoing and, hopefully, will provide insight into new modes of collective action and design, while also illuminating the rhetorics and limitations of hackathons as sites and practices of innovation and civics. The research is being conducted with Carl DiSalvo and Melissa Gregg (Intel).
I have written and presented on this research for the Digital Labor Conference. That writing can be found here.
There are two forthcoming publications, one in New Media and Society and another for the Proceedings of the Participatory Innovation Conference (The Hague, Netherlands).