Thursday, February 4, 2010

Building, and getting sentimental about it.

This afternoon we began day two of Makerbot construction.

As I sat and chatted with one of my teammates--at the same time trying to carefully follow some online documentation for the Makerbot--I realized that I was feeling much more more relaxed and willing to enjoy the process of collaboration than last week. No time for social anxieties here--Christina and I had a very concrete and shared goal: construct the X stage. Alex and Kevin worked on building the Y stage, and Darivanh (after being kind enough to set up a computer in the corner to help the rest of us record our data) built the outer frame of our Cupcake. By the end of today's build session, we all looked pretty damn proud of ourselves.

After finishing up all of that, Christina, Kevin and I decided to go to this month's Dorkbot meeting--conveniently held on the University of Washington campus. There were some interesting speakers tonight: Dominic Muren (an industrial design professor at UW), Willow Brugh (director of Jigsaw Renaissance, a makerspace in West Seattle), and Matt Westervelt (who we met a couple weeks ago on our field trip to Metrix: Create Space). The three of them talked about 3d fabrication, makerspaces, and the do-it-with-others (as opposed to DIY) ethic. At the ten minute break, one of the organizers mentioned that there were five times more people in attendance than usual. I felt like I was witnessing the seeds of some sort of revolution.

I'd heard about Dorkbot before, but was always too afraid to go. Meeting new people--especially those who strike me as particularly intelligent and creative--has always been kind of scary for me. But, aided by the presence of my teammates, I managed to work up the courage to check it out tonight--and I'm glad I did. The overwhelming sense of warmth, community and excitement I experienced at Dorkbot soothed any remaining nerves I might have had on the way there. The values that everyone in the (extremely crowded) room seemed to share were infectious and inspiring. I left thinking about the importance of cultivating sustainable and creative communities, making learning fun, and taking time to enjoy the process of creation as much as the product.

My fear of going to Dorkbot sort of brings me to what I hope to get out of participating in this project. Obviously, the goal is to learn how to build a Makerbot. But it's also a little more than that. For me, it is about learning to be fearless, both in terms of my interactions with other people and the things I choose to learn and do. I'm tired of being too scared to engage with the world in the way I want to, and this project seemed like a great way to kickstart the process of reversing that fear. I want to be able to be a part of the community of learners and doers that exists right around me. So that--and getting to play around with some seriously cool technology--is what motivates me to come to this little windowless lab every week and sort through nuts and bolts of various sizes.

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