A friend, who once took a computer science class in college (but did not particularly like it), asked me how a hackathon over the weekend went. However, he said it in a way that suggested that it must’ve been terribly boring, as if we just stared at our computer screens all weekend. And you do this for fun?

Well.. yes, yes, I do. But I think there are a couple of misunderstandings here.

Misunderstanding #1: We Stare At Our Computer Screens All Day

Hackathons and coding-oriented tech meetups like Hacker Hours or Hack the Night Away are social events by nature, and I’ve had some of the best times talking shop with other developers, exchanging learning resources, exchanging live on-screen technical help, reflecting on the industry, and generally feeling productive in a relaxed way.

I took some social entrepreneurship classes in college, and I remember sitting around with my teammates pitching ideas and writing business plans. But at hackathons? We’re also talking to each other and pitching ideas, but then we’re working together to implement those ideas. The result isn’t a 25-page paper few people will read, but an actual prototype that took a lot teamwork and the sum of our respective design and development skills. Much more fun.

Misunderstanding #2: Web Development Is Computer Science

I admit that I’ve never taken a computer science class in an official academic setting, though I have heard horror stories from former classmates about how computer science has been either exceedingly difficult or how their problem sets have been painful to debug. CS seems like one of those subjects that one either hates or loves upon studying it for the first time.

To those who find computer science frustrating: I am happy to report that computer science is *not* web development! To be sure, knowing how to program is important in order to have any level of competence as a web developer, but there are quite a few components — such as UX design, Photoshop skills, CSS (for styling), SQL, Javascript (growing ever more popular as the main programming language of the browser) — that aren’t taught in traditional computer science courses at all.

In my opinion, web development is also more fun because I get to showcase my work in a URL to curious inquirers any day. But that’s just me.

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  • Hi, I'm Linda! I enjoy going to tech meetups, learning web development, and blogging about the learning path. Follow me @LPnotes

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