Wheel Reinvention Jam

September 27 - October 3

A one-week jam to bring a fresh perspective to old ideas.

The Wheel Reinvention Jam is a one-week-long jam where you create a replacement for a program that frustrates you.

Maybe it's a common utility that always breaks. Maybe it's a slow, bloated program that does too much for its own good. Or maybe it's a program that never caught on because the design was too confusing. Whatever the case, this is your chance to replace it with something new.

The rules for the jam are flexible. You can participate alone or with a team, and for as much of the time as your schedule allows. And there's no winner - our goal is to kickstart meaningful projects of all kinds.

Why reinvent the wheel?

How can you reinvent something that's never been invented?

To “reinvent the wheel” is to solve a problem that’s already been solved. But most problems in computing haven’t been solved, at least not very well. After all, computers have only been around for about 80 years - that’s one person's lifetime. Most of the tech you use is essentially the first draft.

Despite this, many people seem to think that we've hit the ceiling. They criticize others for questioning the assumptions that got us here today. And they ignorantly assume that what we have must be good, because otherwise why would we be using it?

If your bike had square wheels, you'd want to reinvent them too. So let's take the "square wheels" that we have today, and make them better!

Details

The jam takes place from Monday, September 27 through Sunday, October 3. Here's how you can participate:

Pick a project.

Find a project idea that excites you! Hopefully there's a project that's always been nagging at you, but if not, you can check out our list of starter ideas for inspiration.

Then visit this forum thread and make a post letting us know that you're participating. Not only does this help us plan the event, but it is also an opportunity for you to find a team or just get people excited about your project. Also, if you link your Discord account from your profile settings, we will give you a special role on our Discord server, and any content you share on Discord can be highlighted here on the website as well.

If you have some tech that you prefer to use, feel free to use it. Otherwise, you can use one of our app templates as a starting point (coming soon!), or chat with us on Discord and we can help you find a setup that works for you.

Participate.

Build your program over the course of the week. Sharing your work in progress is highly recommended - you can post here on the forums, discuss ideas in #jams on the Discord, or share your work on Twitch or Twitter using the hashtag #hmnjam. More ways to participate will be announced over the coming weeks.

Submit your work!

At the end of the jam, you can submit your project by creating a post in a specific forum here on the website. Exact submission details will be announced closer to the jam.

Rules

  • Any tech is allowed, but we encourage you to use only use what you really need. If you want some lightweight templates to get you started, check out our app templates (coming soon).
  • Work solo or with a team.
  • Submit your work by the end of October 3 in your local timezone.
  • Your submission post is required to have multiple screenshots of your software in action, and ideally should include a demo video. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but people should be able to see it without needing to run the actual program.

    We recommend ShareX for recording desktop video on Windows; on Mac, just press ⌘-Option-5 and record a video, or use QuickTime.

  • Publishing your source code, or builds, is encouraged but not required.

Make it by hand.

Since you're building something new, turn a critical eye to your tech. Rebuild the things that need rebuilding. Cross boundaries no one else has crossed. Build what you need, not what you think you’ll need.

Of course, this is a jam, so don't waste time on things that don't matter. You should freely use other people’s code and other people’s tools. You only want to reinvent one wheel, not all of them at once!

No tech is off-limits; use what makes sense for you. But don’t use things blindly, and always be watching for where your tools hold you back.

Don't just rebuild. Reinvent.

Don’t just mimic existing work. Don’t settle for “the same, but better”. If you're going to bother building something new, it should be truly new. Otherwise, you'll probably fail the same way your predecessors did.

Instead, find a unique angle. Think about where existing tools have let you down. What would fit better into your own personal workflow? What did you want when you were first learning? What parts of the existing tools are worth keeping, and what should be left behind?