Photo Hack Day 2

32 hours, 250 bagels, 300+ tacos, 300+ burritos, 12 buckets of BBQ chicken, 20 quarts of pulled pork, 12 pans of cornbread, 20 quarts of mashed potatoes, 150 cookies, 80 boxes of pizza (640 slices total), 27 cases of water (432 bottles total), 384 beers, and 28 cases of soda (448 cans total) later...

On February 25-26, Aviary had the pleasure of throwing Photo Hack Day 2, the first -- and biggest -- photo hackathon to take place in New York City (...and, as far as we know, the world).

With 496 RSVPs and 250 developers in attendance, 30 participating companies, headline sponsorship from Nokia Developer, and $10,000 in prize money, PHD2 trumped its summer predecessor in terms of scale. An astounding 58 hacks were registered to demo by the time Sunday rolled around. General Assembly was at maximum capacity for hackers and attendees alike; the spin on this winter's hackathon -- additional emphasis on mobile development -- opened the floodgates for hackers waiting to test their iOS, Android, and Windows Phone chops.


Saturday evening consisted of Google hangouts with hackers simultaneously building their own projects at Photo Hack Day Berlin, ample BBQ, and beer from the good folks at Sixpoint and Lost Tribes.

Alexis Ohanian, Ben Huh, and David Karp, founders of reddit, Cheezburger Inc., and Tumblr, respectively, joined Aviary CEO Avi Muchnick and the developers in attendance to share their thoughts on engineering creative systems, the strength of image-based communities, advice on community governance, and the intersection of public policy and internet. Their answers ranged from insightful (as expected) to surprising: for instance, Ben Huh, mastermind behind LOLcats and the ensuing barrage of feline-relevant memes, revealed that he does not -- or more importantly, cannot -- own a cat... due to allergies. (WHO KNEW?!)


Sunday's demos ran the gamut from funny and lighthearted to the incredibly practical. Some of our favorites:

  • David Hu's "Linstagram" and "Linterest"
  • Vivek Bhagwat and Hans Hyttinen's "Here, Have a Kitty!"
  • Max Stoller, Spencer Fry, and Andrew Mercando's "Player Status")
  • Mason Du's "Sweet Potato", which generates unique photo montages made of other photos
  • Arcadius Kazimierski's "Face Value", which used's facial recognition API to recognize dollar bills for the blind

The judging panel was equally diverse, with Jason Black (Nokia), Jason Morrow (betaworks), Jim Estrin (The New York Times), and Jamal Fanaian (Flickr) holding court on hacks and demos. In the end, Yufei Liu and his collaborative image editing platform, Synviary, emerged as the big winner of the weekend, sweeping up first place, people's choice, and the Aviary company prize for a grand total of $7,500 in prize money.

Here are the final results from the weekend:

  • First place: Yufei Liu, "Synviary"
  • Second place: Matt Grasser, Nick Ihm, Christopher Guess, and Emily Duong, "What Is Up"
  • Third place: Mike Kelberman, Liangjie Xia, and Chris Bell, "Rotobooth"
  • People's Choice: Yufei Liu, "Synviary"

We'll publish a full list with the winners of company prizes once we get confirmation. For now, refer to our HackerLeague page to see what was created over the weekend!

For more photos from #PHD2, check out the Photo Hack Day Flickr group or sneak a peek at The Bosco's photo booth mug shots! You can also read the event writeup from the perspective of Mr. Estrin in Beta620, a New York Times blog.

Big thanks to all of the hackers, companies, and attendees who made Photo Hack Day 2 a success! Looking forward to seeing you all at the next hackathon.


The Aviary team