Enlisting Makers Against Ebola

Colorized Ebola Virus (by Cynthia Goldsmith)

Colorized Ebola Virus (by Cynthia Goldsmith)

The dream was to activate the large and distributed community of creative makers to help solve problems dogging the Ebola crisis. With a sense of urgency that didn’t allow for good metrics planning I started publishing the series below. Our combined hope was to attract many a maker to OpenIDEO’s Fighting Ebola ideation platform and that good ideas would lead to great prototypes which became relief-providing solutions.
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SxSW Finally


Covering SxSW Interactive in one day is craziness. Frankly, not only is it impossible, it shouldn’t be tried because you end up making too many sacrifices. Even with the app they provided (see above) I couldn’t begin to discern a path through the vastness that would give me good coverage. At a certain point you just give in, do your best, and appreciate the richness of what SxSW offers.

Why one day? Continue reading

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World Maker Faire 2012

Katie Perry is a multifunctional unicorn that shoots fire out of its horn and pees the beverage of your choice. Weird, I know, but such a delight that people will come up with such crazy ideas and make them real. She appeared at Maker Faire.

Maker Faire it’s just plain fun! This was the third year in NYC and this year Mayor Bloomberg declared it Maker Week. Amazing! The result was a huge increase in attendance over last year to 55,000 people across the two days. With 500 exhibits, a roster of speakers (that kept me busy running from venue to venue), many how-to workshops and a wide variety of attractions I was flat-out on a tear all weekend. My official agenda was constantly being adjusted by chance meetings with friends, impromptu business meetings, and interviews for articles. The MAKE folk work very hard to pull off excellent events and I think they do a remarkable job … as do the legions of volunteers.
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Bay Area Maker Faire 2012

Only at a Maker Faire could you find this combination of a dynamic trio. They are Edward, Bart and Brook who each has a claim to fame that I wrote about this year. Bart is the creator of MakerSlide, a structural rail system that's great for CNC prototyping. Edward incorporated MakerSlide into his Shapeoko CNC mill. Brook's fame comes from his novel 3D printer design which was a home run on Kickstarter. As I said, a dynamic trio!

After a 365 day odyssey I’m back to where it all started. One year ago I attended my first Maker Faire in the Bay Area after having visited business incubators across the country. That mind-expanding experience led me down a path I couldn’t have foreseen, and it’s been remarkably gratifying. Today I closed the loop back where it all started.

After feeling all the energy, experiencing all the joy, and seeing all the enthusiasm for making, I became convinced something special was going on. This motivated me to learn more which lead to many activities. Subsequent Maker Faires in Detroit and NYC saw me as an attendee. I wove visits to 49 different maker spaces into my many road trips. Also, I co-founded a maker space in Norther Virginia called Nova Labs.

I also started writing about the theme for Make Magazine. Along with Dale Dougherty of I co-chaired a conference to bring the principles of the maker movement to corporate America. In the process of setting up the Hardware Innovation Workshop I got to know many of the leaders in the movement and become familiar with what makes them tick. All remarkably gratifying.

And so it is that I found myself back where it all started.
The big question is, “What’s next?”
We shall see …

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Hardware Innovation Workshop

Among the many products innovations on display in our Showcase was the Ori foldable kayak. It's made of corrugated plastic, weighs less than 20 pounds. It folds to a tidy package for attaching to a backpack, carrying on a bike, or putting in your car's back seat. You can see above how light it is.

It was a thrill to be among the world’s most influential makers, delivering an important message to corporate America and doing so in an iconic setting: Xerox PARC. I was pleased to have had a role in pulling it off.

Our message was relatively simple: learn what’s happening and take advantage of it. The themes were: 1) open hardware is a powerful catalyst for innovation, 2) collaboration around design can yield tremendous results and 3) new fabrication technologies allow rapid and low cost prototyping. In addition we touched on new funding models (think Kickstarter and the Jobs ACT) and hardware incubation. Together these ingredients are fueling something we’ve almost forgotten about in the U.S.: hardware innovation.

Here are links to background and articles about the event.

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Four Hours to Build a Chair

Kelsey Chair

Safety training also includes basic use of tools. Last night Kelsey was thrilled to have used the radial arm saw during training. Today she went all out, used several power tools and built a chair!

Last year I built a chair from a single piece of 2×4 wood, eight feet long. It was a one-page project detailed in MAKE magazine and allowed me to use a variety of tools and joining techniques. At the time I thought it would be a great project for Kelsey to learn from but not till today did it happen.

The reason it took till now? Safety training at our makerspace got her excited. Continue reading

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Fab Lab Network Symposium


I first visited soon after their opening. Now, just a short time later this fab facility was hosting the U.S. Fab Lab Network Symposium. Impressive! It was a great opportunity to meet people.

The Fab Lab model originated at MIT’s Media Lab around 10 years ago and has since grown to a network of over 100 facilities worldwide. Each fab lab is a small scale workshop for digital fabrication where ideas are modeled in software and cheaply prototyped using computer controlled (CNC) tools. Sounds exotic, I know, but it’s real and potentially the biggest thing to hit manufacturing in a century.

I first fell in love with digital fabrication when I saw it in action at Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. Later Neil Gershenfeld’s “FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop” started to flesh out the vision. However, it was in my travels to makerspaces and seeing what makers were doing that inspired me to keep learning. My six weeks at TechShop were a direct result of this.

Fab Labs in the United States have formed an association and the meeting I attended in Tulsa was the U.S. Fab Lab Network Symposium’s third annual meeting. Topics were organizing, planning, and training to advance the effectiveness of the network. Still a work in progress but great that such an effort is underway.

Tulsa wasn’t the most obvious place to hold it. Can’t say I’ve even heard of conferences being held there but it was for a good reason. Fab Lab Tulsa is a new facility and they were in an excellent position to host the event. It was well done and while there aren’t enough resources to get their ambitious agenda complete, the heart and spirit are strong.

Here are just a few shots from the Fab Lab itself: Continue reading

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Makerspaces Aplenty!

Makerspaces Aplenty

Toys of making litter makerspaces. This shot is from the loft at ATX, Hackerspace in Austin, TX. Below are mills, lathes, drill presses ... dirty stuff. Above are laser cutters, 3D printers ... clean stuff.

Since Maker Faire I’ve been fascinated with the burgeoning variety of hobby spaces where tinkerers gather. Begun typically after a chance meeting of a few enthusiasts, the first period of time is often spent meeting periodically at a local coffee shop with free wifi. The ambitions bloom but financial resources are always a constraint. Finally, enough people want to make it happen and they band together to fund the lease of a space. Continue reading

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TechShop University

TechShop University

For almost two months I passed under this sign, always thinking about projects. Here Courtney captured me beneath the banner which spanned my passage into a six-week making journey.

Twenty five years ago I graduated from undergraduate with a degree in Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering … and left to spent a career in information services. Recently I learned about new fabrication tools (3D printing, laser cutting, CNC milling) and became intrigued. So much did I want to understand this new landscape of production technology that I decided to invest six weeks of my life at TechShop San Francisco.

TechShop is a sort of health club of tools. You pay a monthly membership fee and for that you can use their workshop as much as you like. What tools do they have? Pretty much everything under the sun. Can you just walk in and start using any tool? No, before you can do much of anything you have to take classes on safety and basic use. With that as my reality I defined my plan.

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Apple is Tracking Me!

Bay Area Tracking

Zooming in on my iPad’s location data produced the pattern at the left. From this I discern that exact locations aren’t known but general locations are tracked. No harm in that!

If my mother is concerned that Apples iPhone tracks peoples movements then I know Apple has an issue. We all now know that Apple wasn’t tracking us but retaining radio towers position data to speed up location services on their devices. They did keep too much data and which will be reduced. They did keep data in readable form and that will be encrypted. However, before Apple made these changes I wanted to take a peek at MY data.

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