1. Hackathon: The Day-to-day

    Our plans for a hackathon in the US Virgin Islands were mostly met with the following reactions:

    • You’re kidding, right? Can I get a job there? (Yes you can!)
    • Are you working hard or hardly working?

    Now that we are here we’ve fallen into a pretty great balance of the two extremes. Going into the hackathon we defined our teams, our overall goals, and created somewhat of a schedule for our work. Now that we’re here some of these have changed to allow more support for bigger projects, goals that align with our editorial vision but also our technological curiosity, and a schedule that feels natural and unforced.

    We’ve split our 14 product members into the growth and click-through-rate teams. We also have commerce and innovation teams, but they’re going to focus on fleshing out our next big moves in social commerce rather than focusing on building a product during this week. Our growth team is redesigning some of our core products: responsive mobile site, slideshow design and implementation, and homepage design. The CRT team is divided into two tracks: one developing a fashion week hub, and another flexible image tagging for showcasing products within article elements. Our goals are to expand user discoverability, grow the tool kit our editors can utilize, and enhance the performance of our applications.

    As for our schedule, it’s pretty much anything goes until 1pm when we all come together to program and design. Meetings happen by the pool deck, some program on the kitchen island, others on couches, and all day yesterday the CTR team took over an entire living room, covered the walls with paper and wire-framed the fashion week hub. It’s great not only having unlimited space to work and design, but also unlimited access to our best resources—each other. We work well into the night, then relax with some light swimming or nighttime beach romping. And, of course, plenty of rum. Come on, we’re in the Caribbean!

  2. Meet our newest developer!

    Meet our newest developer!

  3. Hackathon Day 1

  4. How to prepare your team for a Hackathon

    The days leading up to the hackathon you will be floating between waves of sheer joy that you were somehow able to get this green lighted by your company, and waves of utter anxiety trying to prepare yourself and your team for remote working.

    After getting the location, bathing suits, and lists of local bars and restaurants, you’ll need to figure out some other minor details. Like Internet access. Enough computers with working connections to your code base. Local copies of all code and reference databases. Essential programs. Sign-off on all those lovely product ideas you were planning on building.

    The latter ended up being the most time consuming for us. Refinery29 has a strong editorial voice and direction, one we want to support and develop with our technological feats. It’s all well and good to come up with some sort of responsive, live stream feed, but where will it live? How does it fit? What is the user story—how will a reader want to use this tool and what makes the most sense for them, not our own egos? These questions surrounded each product idea we had among our teams, and were met by a tide of answers that seemed to change the questions themselves as it moved through them.

    Clearly, you’re going to want to give yourself some time to prepare for your hackathon, in light of all of the above. We did most of the discussions in a week, and the laptop configuration less than 24 hours before our flight. Why? Because work got in the way. While preparing for the trip we still had bugs to squash, features to release, sold products to design and construct. We were so busy with our day to day that we couldn’t give ourselves the right time to think outside of it.

    Which, in essence, is why we are doing this hackathon and why it’s so important to do this experiment. We are taking ourselves completely out of these daily tasks and responsibilities so we can sit in this bubble of innovation and creativity. We’re building for the love of building. We’ve been given this great opportunity to become a technology thinktank. It’s a daunting challenge, but one we’re all excited for. And come on, wouldn’t you code your heart out if your company sent you here:

    Water Island

  5. They’re where?!

    Yes, it’s true. Refinery29 sent its entire product team to Water Island, a small island just off of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. We’re doing a Hackathon! For 10 days we will be living and breathing innovative new web design and development. The goal is to physically and mentally isolate ourselves from the day-to-day needs of a thriving start-up so we can tackle some big projects that we’ve been dreaming about for a while now. More on those later.

  6. And the Refinery29 product team has officially arrived in St. Thomas! Follow our hashtags #r29usvi and #r29hacks on twitter for all access updates on our tropical destination hack-a- thon!

    And the Refinery29 product team has officially arrived in St. Thomas! Follow our hashtags #r29usvi and #r29hacks on twitter for all access updates on our tropical destination hack-a- thon!

  7. Gotham JS: A Love Story

    A tech event in New York City is probably one of the few occupational gatherings where every conversation ends with, “So, when do you want to come in and interview with us?” GothamJS, a conference featuring a series of speakers presenting on all things javascript, was a prime example. Our full tech team (including our awesome developer in Houston) trekked up to NYIT Auditorium near Columbus Circle earlier this month to attend, armed with stacks of business cards. (Did I mention we’re hiring?)

    We each took away something different from the presenters, depending on our particular interests. Of course the star of the show was none other than Douglas Crockford, the primero presenter of nine. He gave a presentation full of superlatives—Javascript is the best! the worst! the best!— which is pretty apt for how people treat the language. The rest of the presentations were equally engaging and interesting, discussing everything from javascript on the server and as a structure, to dropping flash for JS and its love affair with modern browsers. Lea Verou really showed us a thing or two (let’s be honest—a lot) about regular expressions and how to keep a post-lunch audience engaged. She quizzed us during her slideshow with regex problems, asking us to tweet our answers at her which she then displayed. Well done, Lea.

    The best part perhaps was the GothamJS after-party, spearheaded by the gregarious R29 tech team. We bounced from an extravagant roof-top bar, to Katz’s deli, to a dance club in the Lower East Side. We’re definitely looking forward to next year’s conference.

    -Patty Delgado

  8. Only eat stupid sauce after you leave the office! (R29 Tech does San Loco East Village)

    Only eat stupid sauce after you leave the office! (R29 Tech does San Loco East Village)

  9. Every week we have a review of the work we did the previous week. Today, that review was conducted whilst enjoying Pimm’s and Lemonade. It’s just how we do.

If you’d like some Pimm’s, we’re hiring!

    Every week we have a review of the work we did the previous week. Today, that review was conducted whilst enjoying Pimm’s and Lemonade. It’s just how we do.

    If you’d like some Pimm’s, we’re hiring!

  10. Making Startups Work: Getting Creative when you are on a Deadline

    We’re hosting the 4th installment of Refinery29’s event series “Making Startups Work”. At Refinery29 we feel strongly that engineering, UX, product need to act like a team to be a success, so this time we focus on UX.

    Come by our offices at 7pm on Tuesday, May 1st to hear some amazing talks as well as meet the Refinery29 team.

    Details

    Making Startups Work: Getting Creative when you are on a Deadline

    Work at a tech startup? Working for a startup is usually scrappy, often times you are working on multiple projects simultaneously and when you are handed another one, how do you make sure you are building a product that stands-out? How do you get innovative when the clock is ticking? There isn’t a step-by-step guide for inspiration but would love to find out how others tackle this and share insights.

    Hear five leading interaction/product/ux designers speak about some of the coolest NYC-area startups and how they approach creativity under the clock. Is it process? Is it inspirational libraries? Is it crowdsourcing? If you’re curious about what they do, come by the Refinery29 offices May 1st to hear what’s going on in some of the most interesting startups.

    PRESENTATIONS BY

    • Fjord - KC Oh
    • Kickstarter - Jessica Harllee
    • Svpply & NYPD - Allan Yu
    • Warby Parker - Stephanie Wu
    • Refinery29 - Valli Ravindran