The stereotypical hacker is a loner, tapping on his (most definitely his) keyboard late into the night, a glowing screen casting light onto junk food and empty soda cans. But given the number of hacker events, meeting places, and clubs here in Silicon Valley, the social life of a typical hacker today is jumping. The HomeBrew Computer Club started the hacker meetup trend in 1975, and it's been expanding ever since. These days, to name just a few events and organizations, there’s Hacker Dojo, Hackers and Founders, Cloudstock, the Startup Veterans Hackathon, and the classic, invite-only Hacker’s Conference that dates back to 1984; along with corporate events like Facebook’s Hackathons. The list seems endless—a Silicon Valley hacker, it seems, doesn’t ever have to hack alone.
And now, the hackers of Palo Alto are having their first (as far as I can tell) block party. Makes complete sense—block parties are what people around town hold to build community—get a permit from the city to close off a street or two, pull a couple of garbage cans out to block access to the road, and bring out the food and drinks. The name of the event is more than a little odd: Super Happy Block Party. But I love the idea, as well as the promotional trailer that tapped the Palo Alto Mayor as leading man (above). The event will have food, music, and, like every good block party, an activity for kids—in this case, learning to code.
So on March 31st, on a downtown section of High Street, notable for its extensive parking and cheap sushi, the hackers are going to pull out their computers and tablets and eat and drink and, of course, code, from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. And though I’m not so sure about the singin’ and swayin’, I’m sure there will be iPods playin’ when they’re hackin’ in the streets.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.