Last Friday I was invited to attend and photograph the WebChallenge ’08 awards. The Technology Association of Georgia, SAP, Appcelerator, and entrepreneur Wayt King hosted the competition wherein small teams of high school students are tasked with putting together the best Facebook application. Josh Mangel and Avi Zolty of The Weber School and Alan Barber and Brent O’Neill of North Gwinnett High School took home first and second place, respectively, in both Best Concept and Best Implementation. Josh and Avi’s app is called I Recommend It and Alan and Brent’s is Remember When. The “Most Viral” competition was split four ways between those participants and these two teams: Christopher King, Joseph Hughes, Stark Riedesel, and George Ursu at the Academy of Computing and Information Technology, and Josh Patton, Josh Halliday, Josh Kilcoyne, and Ben Crete at Horizon Christian Academy(War Games). I hope to see some of these budding developers at upcoming events like BarCamp Atlanta ’08.
Here’s a collection of photos from WebChallenge:
Building a Facebook app is no small task, and I’m very impressed with what these students were able to accomplish. Having anything “go viral” is an exciting outcome but not a very predictable or plannable one. None of these apps truly “went viral” in some sense and I think that’s a useful lesson both for the organizers and for the participants. Just ask any number of web application developers, content producers, advertising and marketing agencies, and global brands that have labored under the misconception that somehow with the right magic idea, the right formula, the right partners, strategic advertising purchases and some special SEO blend they could “just make it go viral” in the larger sense. One suggestion I have for next year — perhaps the awards could focus more narrowly on rewarding specific attributes that would help guide young developers in a strong direction for the next steps in their careers, like good problem area definition, smallest codebase, most benefit to the casual end-user, and simplicity of application design.