‘Temporariness’ of the sukkah inspires app hackathon

For the first time, entrepreneurs will gather in a Jerusalem sukkah — to develop apps related to temporary content

Hacking away at the Sukkathon, October 1, 2015. (Iddan Aharonson)
Hacking away at the Sukkathon, October 1, 2015. (Iddan Aharonson)

The sukkah, the celebratory hut that is the central rite of the current Sukkot holiday, symbolizes, among other things, the “temporariness” of life, wealth, and material things — at least according to the Kabbalah.

Although they’re not Kabbalists, the folks behind the first-ever Sukkathon — a hackathon that will take place inside a thatch-roofed booth in Jerusalem — realize that “temporariness” is not just an otherworldly concept, but one that is a firm part of the Internet world.

The event is being held Thursday in the headquarters of the video-chat firm Glide in the Malha High Tech Park in Jerusalem, and will conclude Friday morning.

“Content, especially personalized content, is often fleeting,” said Hanan Brand, chairman and founder of MadeinJLM, an organization that works with and promotes the start-up community in Jerusalem. “Snapchat messages, for example, disappear after a short time, and the rush of content always ensures that the old is muscled out by the new. We decided that this would make a great theme for a Sukkot hackathon.”

Thus was born the Sukkathon — the world’s first hackathon to be held around the concept of “temporariness,” and the first to be held inside a sukkah. Participants will only have 24 hours to pitch, organize a group, and create their projects — things that are used only for a short period of time.

MadeinJLM, along with Israeli tech start-ups Glide, Lightricks, Chiprix, SmartBus, ZUtA Labs and others, helped organize and sponsor the event.

Reuven Karasik (Courtesy)
Reuven Karasik (Courtesy)

The temporary-content app category has exploded in recent years, as web users begin to realize that anything they post on social media sites like Facebook are “forever.” The minute that a raunchy photo or other compromising piece of content — posted in a devil-may-care, live-for-the-moment spirit — is “out there,” it can be accessed and come back to haunt its subject even many years later.

Thus the rising popularity of apps such as Snapchat, which lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they post. Other apps of this type include Slingshot, Line, Whisper, and Cloaq — all of which let users post content and then delete it after it has been seen by those to whom it is sent — with no record of the data ever having existed.

It’s in that spirit that the Sukkathon is taking place, according to its organizer, Reuven Karasik — a 15-year-old Jerusalem entrepreneur, who is also a project manager at MadeinJLM. As a teenager, Karasik is quite cognizant of the importance of temporary-content apps. “Sukkot is a great time to have a hackathon; people of all ages are on vacation and have time to think outside of the box. That’s the whole concept of Sukkot,” said Karasik.

“We were looking for a theme that could fit the Sukkot spirit, and realized that start-ups are usually looking to the future. So we decided we would try to create things for the present, the temporary — following the theme of the sukkah.

“Snapchat gave us an excellent example of this, where the concept is that the messages disappear and are not saved on a server for future use — and many kids have switched to Snapchat from Facebook for that very reason,” added Karasik. “It’s a great model, and who knows — maybe the next Snapchat will be created in our Sukkathon.”

Jonathan Caras, cofounder and COO of Jerusalem-based Glide, said that the company — one of the biggest live-video messaging firms in the world — was “very excited at the opportunity to host the Sukkathon. It’s amazing to observe the innovative people from Jerusalem and the surrounding area who came out to share their passion for creating. When we cofounded Glide, we envisioned building a hub that would attract the greatest minds of our generation to solve problems together. The Sukkathon is a step in realizing that vision.”

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