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Shock the Web, a brand-new bitcoin hackathon, begins next week on Tuesday, March 22. This is a week-long event focused on Lightning and the open web. As a virtual event, it's open to participation by anyone in the world.


"For Lightning adoption on the application layer, we need great designers and developers to come and learn about how Lightning works in a fun, intimidation-free environment" says Ed Pratt, one of the organizers of Shock the Web. Bitcoin and Lightning development can seem scary for new developers, but it doesn't have to be. There are a number of tools and libraries that aim to make building applications on top of Bitcoin and Lightning easier.

This hackathon focuses specifically on integrating Lightning apps into the open web. "We started this hackathon so we can see more innovation in bitcoin use cases," says Johns Beharry, another organizer of Shock the Web and a contributor to Alby, the Lightning browser extension. "Since the wallet is taken care of with Alby, what next?"

Imagine having a Lightning wallet that can interact with websites you visit: it can tip people who provide great content, help you pay for things on e-commerce websites, or even authenticate you when you log into a website. These are just a few ideas: Shock the Web aims to inspire a new wave of developers to build awesome tools and products with Lightning and the web.

Furthermore, another goal of this hackathon is to increase the engagement of designers in the Bitcoin space. "There are parts of the protocol that designers don't know about, and if you focus on just designing wallets, we don't get deeper into how bitcoin can be used," says Beharry. "I wanted to get designers in the Bitcoin Design Community to care about these smaller parts so we can solve problems for the next evolution of Bitcoin apps."


"As someone who's also relatively new to Lightning and WebLN, I wanted to structure the hackathon in a way that first promotes learning and experimentation with some of the leaders in Lightning. It shouldn't matter if you have zero knowledge on Lightning, design, or development," says Pratt. While you may choose to begin hacking on the first day of the event, there are many workshops and talks to help inspire you and teach you new tools that you can implement in your projects.

Moritz Kaminski will introduce you to Alby. Michael Bumann will teach you how to build your first Lightning web app. Andre Néves from ZEBEDEE will teach you about Lightning-powered gaming. Roy Sheinfeld from Breez will talk about the Lightning web economy. Ben Arc of LNBits will talk about building Lightning backends. Christoph Ono of Bitcoin Design will demo the Bitcoin UI kit.

On Friday, you should be ready to begin hacking on your project. Work on your projects throughout the weekend. Mentors will be available to guide you if you need help during this process.

Monday, March 28 is the final day! Presentations begin at 17:30 CET that day, and winners will be announced during the closing ceremony at 19:30 CET. Afterwards, there will be a virtual hangout to celebrate and chat with other Shock the Web attendees.


Shock the Web's goal is to make building on Bitcoin and Lightning more accessible — but also more fun! — for web designers and developers. You can register for the hackathon here.

"We need some fresh blood and more designer-developer interaction — on a smaller scale," says Beharry. "Not everyone coming into Bitcoin can start designing and developing a wallet. That's a lot of work — on a hackathon you can't get far. But a project like Oh that's exciting — let's do more of that. Using Bitcoin."