The room for the Sprintathon is huge. It's a dark industrial space, with a 9 meter ceiling, black walls, no windows, and a concrete floor. The space is almost a cube, with one column dead center. The pillar is a massive steel pipe filled with concrete, disappearing into the infrastructure above.
The hall was once the machine room of a national newspaper, and is now the presentation space of V2_Organisation,
an institute for new media. Eight tables are arranged in a square
around the column. Four beamers, suspended in the air, project
scrolling code on the walls. Glowing theater lights illuminate the
scene from the grid above.
Electricity and the internet connection travel down the column. It's a
silent and still 'deus ex machina' of cycles and bits, feeding the
arrangement below. From a hub at the base, a starburst of cables sprays
out to connect the work tables.
31 people are gathered around the perimeter, broken up into teams:
workflow, users, search, user interface, docs. CVS checkins shoot up
the column, en route to dev.zope.org. The connection is also a thick pipe, plugged into a 1Gbit line in the Media Lab above.
Sometimes there's a short presentation. The developer stays in his
seat, takes the microphone, and explains what's happening in the
projection. Discussions inevitably ensue. Since everybody's facing each
other, communication is fast and direct. Issues that get too complex
get earmarked for future workout. Most of the time people just work,
programming in pairs, voicing a buzz of thinking that synchs with the
rhythm of the keyboards.