5 Brilliantly Stupid Hacks From the Terrible Ideas Hackathon
A celebration of the absurd makes a point of the pointless.
Welcome to Stupid Hackathon, a celebration of the most useless ideas that only the most clever people can pull off.
Officially called the “Stupid Shit No One Needs & Terrible Ideas Hackathon,” it brought together artists, technologists, and jokesters in New York City this week for the third annual conference, founded by Sam Lavigne and Amelia Winger-Bearskin. Categories in this year’s event included commodities to end climate change, disrupting solid foods, and monetizing children. It’s futility as performance art — a comment on the first-world impulse to hack a tech solution to every real and non-real problem.
The event borrows its format from more conventional hackathons — bright minds come up with an idea and then gather for an intense work session, culminating in presentations and awards. But instead of trying to create something, the Stupid Hackathon tries to create nothing, and through doing so acts as a foil to the silliness of the more serious events.
“We were getting tons of invitations to really dumb hackathons,” Lavigne told Popular Mechanics. “They didn’t think they were dumb, but they were all this stuff like ‘Oh we’re going to solve the water crisis!’ or ‘We’re going to solve poverty in this two-day hackathon!’”
Instead of trying to create something, the Stupid Hackathon tries to create nothing.
The Stupid Hackathon satirizes the hackathon, but it equally makes fun of a world where people keep trying to invent tech products we “need” and then make a buck on Kickstarter to sell them to us. In this world, every product can be made better if it is made “smart” and connected to the Internet of Things — think smart drinking cups and smart menstrual cups.
Here are some of the best worst ideas from this year’s event:
This is Shakie, the phone app that takes a photo when you shake it really hard. Sometimes life is a blur, and now you can capture that sentiment and hold onto it forever.
Mansplain It To Me
Ever wished someone would just answer your simple question, except not really answer it and also do it in that condescending way that tries to make you feel small? There’s an app for that.
It’s every hipster’s dream — a floppy disk that you can actually plug into your computer’s USB drive and use for backup storage. And, thanks to some simple hacking by innovator Craig Pickard, the USB device, which came with 8 GB of storage, is left with only 1.44 MB of usable space.
This high-tech wearable lets you know when you have to pee. It’s the technology you never knew you needed, that your friends will never believe you have.
Sure, it’s a phallus made of Soylent that ejaculates Soylent, but how does it work? Just type self-validating praise for Soylent into the app, and receive your liquid bounty. It’s a “satire on the generally masculine cult of quantitative efficiency in Silicon Valley,” inventor Katherine Pan tells The Guardian.