Hackathons: the event of choice for idealistic Silicon Valley types who think all the world’s ills can be solved through code. Turns out, a bunch of well-intentioned volunteers can’t necessarily fix intractable social problems with an app built in a weekend. Weird! But that doesn’t mean hackathons are all bad. At the annual Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon over the weekend, someone built a giant dick that spurts the gross, white “meal substitute” Soylent.
The hackathon was launched two years back by Sam Lavigne and Amelia Winger-Bearskin, and, as its name would indicate, it’s dedicated to building projects “that have no value whatsoever.” But the Stupid Hackathon is not actually stupid. It is very good. And its projects do have tremendous value. Tremendous comedy value.
Case in point: the aforementioned Soylent Dick, created by Nicole He, Katherine Pan, and Chino Kim. It’s a phallus made of wire mesh and Soylent-based Play-Doh that will ejaculate Soylent into your mouth or a cup if you feed it by typing in some lines about how wonderful Soylent is. This … is brilliant. It’s a parody of everything awful about tech culture, condensed into a penis and an Arduino.
See also: a “non-ad blocker” Chrome extension that blocks all internet content except ads. Or a Dark Net wedding registry that you can only get to using the anonymized Tor browser — because Pottery Barn was blocking Tor users. Or this delightful browser extension that puts the same picture of celebrity chef Guy Fieri on every page you visit:
Are these “terrible ideas?” Does “no one need” an extension that replaces all the voices in Netflix shows with the computerized voice of a British nanny? Or a 3-D printer that only prints in spray cheese? Or a cake made out of Tums? (That last one was entered in the “Disrupting Solid Foods” category).
Well, probably. But we can still be glad that, after Saturday, these are all things that now exist in the world. And maybe we don’t need to throw hackathons in the garbage after all.