The Holy City of the Vatican in Rome is one of the last places on Earth that one would generally think to look to for decisive technological innovation, yet the VHacks hackathon is actually happening. It will be going on from March 8 to March 11 this year, during which time 120 participants will be working together on tech projects meant to address three key themes; social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and migrants and refugees. The mass collaboration event actually answers a call from Pope Francis, who suggested that modern technology should be used to address the issues of inclusion and equality. The three themes chosen are undoubtedly hot-button worldwide topics, and woven into the fabric of the Vatican itself, which means that the ideas and innovations that participants bring to the table should be unique, heartful, and exciting.
Gathering those 120 participants, let alone getting the hackathon off the ground, was a mammoth accomplishment. It all started out with student and traveler Jakub Florkiewicz bringing the idea to Rome, and pitching it around to different people. Eventually, a few Holy Men from the Vatican latched onto the idea, and one by the name of Father Eric helped Florkiewicz to get things going., as he saw it as an opportunity to further a massive project he had been undertaking, which seeks social change and global innovation with the three hackathon themes as a central trope. The Vatican hackathon will play a key role in building up awareness, and perhaps even result in the creation of some especially useful solutions.
Students from all backgrounds were invited to apply, but the 120 participants that were picked are the final lot, which means that your shot at participating this year is gone. There is no word as to whether there will be another hackathon in the near future. Even so, the core takeaway on a worldwide scale, especially for the presumably tech-oriented crowd that reads this site and many of the other tech sites that will feature stories about the hackathon, is that you don't need to be in the right place at the right time in order to act on an idea, especially when that idea is shared by others and revolves around the pursuit of universal good.