A new community activity: Challenge problems

Our community has thus far focused on collecting and discussing different pathways that may one day lead to improving various aspects of malleability. I personally find those conversations inspiring and refreshing, especially compared to the somewhat soul-destroying state of mainstream computing today. I know I have learned a lot over the years from all the ideas and projects everyone has shared.

As I hinted in the 2023 collective digest blog post, I’d like us to try out a new community activity I’m thinking of as a “challenge problem”. For our first attempt at this, I will supply a malleable-related theme for anyone interested to ponder and eventually submit a well-considered response of some kind.

There will be a submission deadline several months after the theme has been posted. Some people may want to build something to illustrate their ideas, and hopefully a few months allows time to do that. Having a deadline gives people something to aim for, instead of falling into the trap of polishing indefinitely without actually sharing anything.

There is no required format or length for a submission. You could write an article, record a video, build a demo, or some mix of those. It could be long or short. It should show that you have thought deeply about the theme. Submissions are also free to reject the premise of theme, as long as you make a persuasive argument. :slightly_smiling_face: Of course, you are expected to abide by our code of conduct.

Submissions can be hosted wherever. Once the theme has been revealed, you’ll be able to submit by creating a new thread on the forum. Your submission thread can either contain the submission directly or link to something hosted elsewhere.

After the deadline, I plan to summarise all the submissions and share my perspective. To be clear though, there are no awards to give out. Everyone will be left to their own judgement to decide which is best according their own needs and preferences. I may also make a submission myself, and that would obviously bias any selection process if it did exist… :smile:

Participants will also be encouraged to share their own summary and reflection on the other submissions that have come in. After having thought about the theme for several months, they are likely well-placed to learn from and comment on the work of others.

I am thinking of this process as a virtual workshop of sorts, but submissions will appear gradually over time, with a final round-up after the deadline.

I hope this will encourage more good discussions and potentially even reveal new paths towards malleability.

Please do let me know here in this thread what you think of the overall structure. Does it sound like something you would like to participate in?

Stay tuned for the first challenge problem theme! I plan to share that in a week or so, after we’ve discussed the general structure.


I love the idea. I think the format you propose is good. My suggestion would be to clearly name two topics one named “Challenge THEME: …” that would be locked after the dealine, and one "Discusssion THEME: " or something alike.

Pretty excited to see what the first theme will be!

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Glad to hear it sounds good overall! :smile:

So far, I’ve been imagining a new topic for the theme itself, and replies there would be about clarifying and refining the theme itself as needed. Perhaps this topic would make sense to lock after the deadline as you’re saying.

Each submission would be its own topic, as people may have comments they want to offer on each submission, so separate topics for each submission should help to keep those organised.

Is the separate, unlocked discussion topic you’re thinking of meant for ongoing discussion of the theme more generally beyond the context of the challenge activity or something else…?


I was thinking inside the context of the challenge, but opening it to beyond the challenge could also be great for deeper discussions. So, i’ll let other judge i think :slight_smile:

Sounds good! I’d be happy to participate if my agenda allows it.

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