Happy New Year, Handmade Network! I hope you all had an amazing holiday season, and I hope you're all looking forward to 2022 as much as I am.

The Handmade movement had a huge year in 2021. The Handmade Seattle conference, hosted by former Handmade Network staff member Abner Coimbre, brought the community together for yet another time, even in the face of the many changing circumstances that 2021 held in store. We on the Handmade Network staff team hosted the Wheel Reinvention Jam, and we had a number of very well-done project submissions. Ben Visness and Asaf Gartner rewrote the entire Handmade Network website backend in preparation for some huge features that are slowly making their way onto the website.

This is, of course, only an incomplete list. The real list of all of the great things that happened for the Handmade movement in 2021 is not enumerable. But let's dig into these.

Handmade Seattle 2021

Abner Coimbre successfully hosted Handmade Seattle for a 3rd year in the face of consistently changing circumstances - local regulations for COVID-19, traveling restrictions for international Handmade community members, and many other things I don't know about or understand. Handmade Seattle, in 2021, hosted 25 different presentations, all being either talks, demos of Handmade projects, or podcast episodes. The conference happened both live in-person and also virtually.

I'm not exactly sure how he manages it, but with each year, Abner has produced a better conference, in the face of COVID-19 restrictions, all while staying independent without any corporate sponsorships. I had the privilege of attending in-person, and I was amazed with how smoothly everything went.

I'm here to tell you that the media - talk recordings, demo videos, podcast episodes - from Handmade Seattle 2021 is starting to roll out, so you can enjoy all of the content from the conference for free, even if you missed it originally. To check it out, go here.

Wheel Reinvention Jam

As I mentioned, the Handmade Network staff hosted our "Wheel Reinvention Jam" back in October. This was like a game jam, but instead of being for games, it was all about taking existing "boring" software - the kind of stuff that we regularly depend on as users, like file explorers, word processors, and more - and innovating on it. To put it shortly, the jam was a huge success, and we got a number of amazing project entries.

We on the admin team also did a stream to show off some of our favorite projects. And then, something horrible happened: I lost the recording. Long story short, I downloaded the recording, and unknowingly permanently deleted it as I was cleaning off my desktop one day. In other words, I had a very important lessons about backing up important data on my machine.

Hope was, as far as I was concerned, lost.

But I was mistaken - hope is never lost in a community with a hero protecting it.

Martins Mozeiko, the resident programming wizard in the community, has an automated system set up that records stream VODs so he can enjoy them at his own pace after they air. He had a copy of the stream's recording!!!

So, I'm here to report that - because of Martins - you all have the ability to watch the Wheel Reinvention Jam recap stream. Here it is:

Personal Projects Update & Discord Integration

Ben and Asaf have been hard at work at the admin team's plan for projects on the Handmade Network website. We realized that the #project-showcase channel on the Discord server was so popular because so many projects didn't fit the original model of projects on Handmade Network. These projects were smaller, sometimes not intended to be finished, were experimental and not well-established, but nevertheless demonstrated very great results that people love to see. We figured that this prevalent force in the community - of those who are working on such projects - should be reflected in the services we offer on the website.

Now, Handmade Network has two tiers of projects: Personal Projects, and Featured Projects. Personal Projects can be created by anyone, and do not require approval by the admin team. They give you a place to host media for your project.

Featured Projects are similar to the old Handmade Network website projects; they are like personal projects, but are upgraded with a number of features (forums, episode guide, etc.), and they are presented as being featured (and thus hand-picked by the admin team).

The most awesome part of all this comes with how media is managed for these projects. For a while now, we've had the Community Showcase section of the website - these are posts from the #project-showcase Discord channel of people showing off work on their projects. We've upgraded this system to also allow associating some of those posts with projects (and other things) through tagging.

On each post, you can add tags: Here is a screenshot of my awesome work on &hero for the &cooljam. Each word that follows a & symbol refers to one of these tags. Each project gets one tag name, that it can use to pull in certain resources. And, other things can have tags too (like jam events), that can categorize posts in other ways.

Posts that are tagged will not only go to the regular Community Showcase section of the site, but they'll also be pulled onto their respective project pages (and, yes, a post can be tagged to multiple projects).

Ben is writing a more in-depth post about this. It'll be released shortly, so if you're looking for more details about how these new features work, you'll want to check that out when it's ready.

I am extremely excited for this new upgrade to the site's project features. Go and try it out!

State of the Network Podcast 2021

I've just released a new podcast episode I did with community member Rudy Faile, who interviewed me about the current state of Handmade Network, all of the things in the Handmade movement in 2021, and where we are planning to go in 2022. Check it out here!

Closing Remarks

One final remark I want to make is announcing a temporary hiatus for myself on my side-projects, including Handmade Network. In short, I'm taking at least a few months for self-improvement, to focus on some very important personal matters. Thank you to all of those who have expressed support - I'll be back at some point during this year, and I will keep my finger on the pulse of the community, because I'm so excited for what is yet to come.

That's all for the news, for now. Here's to a prosperous 2022, and let's continue moving the ball forward!

Best wishes, Ryan