In a nutshell, the Hackfest is about a group of people spending a day together and hacking on library problems. The outcomes can be, and often are, diagrams, flowcharts, documents, as well as running code. Although the emphasis is probably on running code, one of the great things about the Hackfest is that the ability to write code is optional. Everyone is valued for what they bring to the enterprise, and even if you’ve never written a single program you will likely have other things you can contribute.
At times during the conference the Hackfest participants report back on the problem they tackled and how they tackled it, so even people who weren’t there (like me) can find out what went on.
I followed the Hackfest link on the blog and eventually found 2006’s reports. This year’s Hackfest just ended so the report for this year should be up soon.