Last weekend I had the opportunity to check out the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon organized in New York. There is something about this type of event that sets it apart from others – maybe it’s the hacking itself, the people or the atmosphere — nonetheless, I am always excited to participate. The challenge? Pick a real-world problem and hack a solution – all in 24 hours. The event is geared towards developers, just the type of folks who are not afraid to get down and harness the best of their abilities to build something that’s functional in such a short timeframe.

At the Disrupt Hackathon, developers either went solo or banded together in groups – it seemed you were definitely at an advantage working in a group given the short duration.  Also, given the nature of the event, most developers found they were better off leveraging existing APIs from other sites and properties, than building something from scratch.


Thanks to the many open APIs available, the developers were able to focus on the problem and tap a vast array of available APIs to tackle tricky use cases like acquiring data from other systems. APIs can also give developers new ideas on what they can incorporate in their application, and additional functionality to enhance the value proposition. Best of all, since most of these APIs are based on HTTP, and optionally RESTful, they can be leveraged by an application built on any platform that supports it — be it mobile, desktop or a large scale web application. Not only does this make the APIs extremely powerful but also both parties are able to benefit. The API provider gets additional exposure to its services, brand recognition and possibly new content, while developers get to build upon existing services, extending them or incorporating them in interesting ways. Check out some of the top hacks from this year here .

At Ask, we are passionate about answering questions, and we have developed sophisticated systems and algorithms that combine the power of search with the insight of a live user community. We see a lot of value in giving developers access to our technology via simple APIs that are easy to use and integrate and give developers around the world ability to integrate our answers technology into their products. Expect to hear more from us on this front in the coming months!

I definitely want to give Tarikh Korula and Daniel Raffel a big shout out for doing an excellent job organizing the event and am looking forward to the San Francisco Disrupt hackathon scheduled later this year.

 

Vishal Shah, Director of Engineering, Mobile & Platforms