What can you make with Google Fiber? More than 100 developers want to answer that question this weekend, when Compute Midwest holds its hackathon at the Fiber Space (1814 Westport Road).
Michael Gelphman, founder of Kansas City IT Professionals and organizer of Compute Midwest, says he isn't sure what to expect when these programmers and app developers are given access to Google's 300 Mbps Wi-Fi connection — a speed that's 30 times the national average — and a computer with gigabit speed. At 9 a.m. Saturday, though, he starts finding out when work gets under way. And a little more than 24 hours later, we see results: At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, judges examine demos and award prizes, such as an iPhone 5, an iPad and a Kindle.
"That's the most exciting part, the unknown," Gelphman says. "Who is going to show up, and what ideas can they come up with?"
More definite is how Compute Midwest begins. The four-day conference kicks off Thursday, November 8, with a party from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cashew (2000 Grand). The party gives way to a discussion of the future, with a 9 a.m. talk Friday at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts (1601 Broadway).
"The goal of the conference is to help people think about what the future holds," Gelphman says. "The community that we've built is very organic, and we wanted to deliver something that is also organic that didn't feel overly commercial or anything like that. We wanted to give people the ability to hear from speakers who could talk about the future."
Gelphman has lined up a TED-worthy slate of speakers to give their views on technology advancements and the next big thing. Or, as he refers to them, "visionaries":
Naithan Jones, AgLocal founder and CEO
Ben Milne, Dwolla founder and CEO
Jason Hoffman, Joyent founder and CTO
Brad Abrams, Google product manager, Cloud platform team
Scott Chacon, GitHub CIO
Zach Kaplan, Inventables CEO
Dan Levin, Box COO
Michelle Munson, Aspera co-founder and CEO
"There's a lot of people doing great things," Gelphman says. "We just wanted to hear from innovators who are building amazing companies — whether it was Cloud, mobile or whatever — that changed the way that people go about their daily lives."
The closing party takes place Friday night at 8, at Fuego in the Power & Light District. Gelphman says the wrap celebration comes on Day 2 because by Sunday — after a 24-hour hackathon — everyone is likely to be exhausted.
Compute Midwest is the next step in the evolution of Gelphman's KCITP, a grassroots networking group. He says he has been building KCITP to go beyond happy hours and hackathons, with an eye toward setting up major conferences.
"I just wanted to see how far we could go," he says. "How big this thing got even surprises me. I knew I wanted to do something big, but this has gone beyond my expectations. This is definitely going to be an annual event. We want to keep doing bigger and bigger things because my whole goal is to make an impact and inspire people to build new ideas."
Tickets to the conference and the hackathon cost $329; startups, entrepreneurs and nonprofits can buy discounted tickets for $209. For more information, see computemidwest.eventbrite.com.