Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Arguably, I'm a noob. Most certainly, I will always be a noob in one respect or another for the rest of my life. This research group has not so much grown me as it has allowed me to see areas in which I need to grow. Perhaps that means next quarter will be a building-scaling, sky-flying, international-peace-building kind of quarter. Perhaps that means I'm now more responsible for what I do, the more I learn about myself. Perhaps I just need to learn to learn. That was one of our study goals, was it not?

Forgive me, I digress.

In the Beginning, there were the expectations and the goals laid out before a project yet unformed. A MakerBot yet made. Immediately I ventured out to discover this “community” this “niche” of people doing sweet electronics things. Of people holding the blueprints to the future. Maybe it’s because that, in retrospect, was one of my greatest curiosities. Maybe that’s something I need to return to. Regardless, my Google-searching lead me to, which lo-and-behold had a forum. I joined and after a single post, found that this was going to be far more exhaustive of a process than anticipated. As a sad concession to myself, I read over the instructions. I read through other sites’ descriptions of MakerBot experiences. I learned a taste for what my Creative Writing instructor would call the “about-ness” of our project. This collective sense of independence from a system, a way of thinking and doing status quo.

Pretty cool stuff. Tickled the Anthropology side of my education, and helped me bide my time as we all waited for Frank to arrive. It was a long few weeks.

I remember as we unboxed him, in his variety of acrylic, wooden, and silicon components, just really wanting to dive in. This is where I learned something about group dynamics. Working under the impression that “many hands makes for light work” I was forgetting this doesn’t imply less-time-consuming-work. I was clearly wrong. It was slow going, and everyone wanted to learn about how to build and solder and glue; confidence slowly building. People wanting to build their own computers and visiting Metrix:CreateSpace and catching some sort of vision, some sort of excitement. As for myself, I stood on what felt to be the periphery, quietly listening and building, nuts bolts screws missing parts music enabling, and waiting.

At this phase in construction, seeking something meaningful to learn at “home”, I began researching CAD software and getting acquainted with Google Sketchup. Powerful, intuitive, and surrounded by a solid support network, I spent several hours getting used to the creation process. I was impressed, and felt like I was really getting the hang of things but… turns out we’re not using Sketchup. There’s this other software that incorporates a couple distinct processes that elsewise requires a couple programs. *face-palm* Story of my life.

Having reached the end of the quarter, and general busyness vamping up, I was able to do little else besides attend meetings and make a impromptu trip to Metrix. I met Bre there, and he seemed pretty legit, and someone had build a laser-light projector that was frickin’ sick. Got another taste for what this community seems to be about… a certain freedom from impossibility. A certain freedom from “oh, no. That’s ridiculous.” A place where people seem to have found their painting medium not to be oils or chalk or hardcore-parcore, but in silicon and stepper-motors and hot plastic.

All told, I’ve learned more about groups than electronics. Less about not how /it/ works than how /they/ work. And somehow, I can’t wait to do it all over again next quarter. To find myself a noob once more. 

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