Well folks, we made it through another one. While it would be a stretch to call 2022 a good year for those of us in the hacking and making community, the light at the end of the tunnel does seem decidedly brighter now than it did this time 365 days ago. It might even be safe to show some legitimate optimism for the year ahead, but then again I was counting on my Tesla stocks to be a long-term investment, so what the hell do I know about predicting the future.
Thankfully hindsight always affords us a bit of wisdom, deservedly or otherwise. Now that 2022 is officially in the rearview mirror, it’s a good time to look back on the highs (and lows) of the last twelve months. Good or bad, these are the stories that will stick out in our collective minds when we think back on this period of our lives.
Oh sure, some might wish they could take the Men in Black route and forget these last few years ever happened, but it doesn’t work that way. In fact, given the tumultuous times we’re currently living in, it seems more likely than not that at some point we’ll find ourselves having to explain the whole thing to some future generation as they stare up at us wide-eyed around a roaring fire. Though with the way this timeline is going, the source of said fire might be the smoldering remains of an overturned urban assault robot that you just destroyed.
So while it’s still fresh in our minds, and before 2023 has a chance to impose any new disasters on us, let’s take a trip back through some of the biggest stories and themes of the last year.
Well, that didn’t go quite as we expected, did it? Wind the clock back 365 days, and the world seemed to be breathing a collective sigh of relief after making it through 2020 in one piece. Folks started getting their COVID-19 vaccines, and in-person events started tentatively putting new dates on the calendar. After a rough year, it seemed like there was finally some light at the end of the tunnel.
Turns out, it was just a another train. New variants of everyone’s favorite acute respiratory syndrome have kept the pandemic rolling, and in many parts of the world, the last month or so has seen more new cases of the virus than at any point during 2020. This is the part of the Twilight Zone episode were we realize that not only have we not escaped the danger, we didn’t even understand the scope of it to begin with.
Case in point, the chip shortages. We can’t blame it entirely on the pandemic, but it certainly hasn’t helped matters. From video game systems to cars, production has crawled to a standstill as manufacturers fight to get their hands on integrated circuits that were once plentiful. It’s not just a problem for industry either, things have gotten so bad that there’s a good chance most of the people reading this have found themselves unable to get their hands on a part or two these last few months. If you were working on a hobby project, it’s a temporary annoyance. But for those who planned on finally bringing their latest big idea to market, we’ve heard tales of heartbreaking delays and costly redesigns.
It would be easy to look at the last twelve months and see nothing but disappointment, but that’s hardly the attitude you want to have at the beginning of the year. So let’s take the high road, and look back on some of the highlights from 2021 as we turn a hopeful eye towards the future.
By pretty much any metric you care to use, 2020 has been an unforgettable year. Usually that would be a positive thing, but this time around it’s a bit more complicated. The global pandemic, unprecedented in modern times, impacted the way we work, learn, and gather. Some will look back on their time in lockdown as productive, if a bit lonely. Other’s have had their entire way of life uprooted, with no indication as to when or if things will ever return to normal. Whatever “normal” is at this point.
But even in the face of such adversity, there have been bright spots for our community. With traditional gatherings out of the question, many long-running tech conferences moved over to a virtual format that allowed a larger and more diverse array of presenters and attendees than would have been possible in the past. We also saw hackers and makers all over the planet devote their skills and tools to the production of personal protective equipment (PPE). In a turn of events few could have predicted, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic helped demonstrate the validity of hyperlocal manufacturing in a way that’s never happened before.
For better or for worse, most of us will associate 2020 with COVID-19 for the rest of our lives. Really, how could we not? But over these last twelve months we’ve borne witness to plenty of stories that are just as deserving of a spot in our collective memories. As we approach the twilight hours of this most ponderous year, let’s take a look back at some of the most interesting themes that touched our little corner of the tech world this year.
Well, this is it. The end of the decade. In a few days the 2010s will be behind us, and a lot of very smug people will start making jokes on social media about how we’re back in the “Roaring 20s” again. Only this time around there’s a lot more plastic, and drastically less bathtub gin. It’s still unclear as to how much jazz will be involved.
Around this time we always say the same thing, but once again it bears repeating: it’s been a fantastic year for Hackaday. Of course, we had our usual honor of featuring literally thousands of incredible creations from the hacking and making community. But beyond that, we also bore witness to some fascinating tech trends, moments that could legitimately be called historic, and a fair number of blunders which won’t soon be forgotten. In fact, this year we’ve covered a wider breadth of topics than ever before, and judging by the record setting numbers we’ve seen in response, it seems you’ve been just as excited to read it as we were to write it.
To close out the year, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular and interesting stories of 2019. It’s been a wild ride, and we can’t wait to do it all over again in 2020.
2018 is almost over, and we have another year in the dataset: an improbable number of celebrities died in 2016. The stock market is down, and everyone thinks a crash is coming. Journalists are being killed around the world. Fidget spinners aren’t cool anymore. Fortnite. Trade wars.
But not everything is terrible: Makerbot released a new printer and oddly no one complained. It was just accepted that it was an overpriced pile of suck. Elon Musk is having a great year, press and Joe Rogan notwithstanding, by launching a record number of rockets and shipping a record number of cars, and he built a subway that we’re not calling a subway. FPGA development is getting easier with new platforms and new boards. There is a vast untapped resource in 18650 cells just sitting on sidewalks in the form of scooters, and I’m going to keep mentioning this until someone actually builds a power wall out of scooters.
We released this on Tuesday and mentioned that the podcast was available on all major podcasting platforms. But turns out you need to wait for approval which we have since received.
This first installment covers some of our favorite trends, articles, and hacks from 2018. Get caught up on what you missed this year, and head over to the show notes for links to everything Mike and Elliot covered in the 67 minute walk down memory lane. We’ll be doing this more regularly in 2019 so pick your podcast aggregator and subscribe to Hackaday to keep up with new episodes.
Join us for the podcast, available on all major podcasting platforms, as Editors Mike Szczys and Elliot Williams attempt the impossible task of distilling the entire year into a one hour discussion. We’ve included every story mentioned in the podcast, and a few more, in the show notes here. But since we can’t possibly mention every awesome hack, we encourage you to share your favorites, and pat the writers on the back, by leaving a comment below.
Take a look at the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!