(They ask): ‘Can I do it? Can it be done?’ wax poetic about the glories of motorized muffin-cars, electric drill-powered scooters and the “Sashimi Tabernacle Choir” (a mash-up of plastic “singing” fish and an old car, created by a physicist with a taste for the benign bizarre and time on his hands).
“Bar / Hack / Lab: Fix,” the new link suite on TrackerNews, explores one of the most encouraging trends to emerge over the last few years: group-organized collaborative “doing.”
Rather than wait for a vaguely defined “Them” to fix things, people all over the world are gathering in hackerspaces, innovation labs and accelerators, or meeting up at BarCamps, Maker Faires and hackathons. Guided by an open source ethos and joy of community, information is shared and help offered. Disciplines cross-pollinate effortlessly: techs work with crafters, who work with builders , who work with mechanics, who work with electricians.
It seems almost to good to be true—the world as you thought it was supposed to be back in kindergarten. In fact, a hackerspace can feel a little like a kindergarten for adults: a room full of toys, a place to play, humor welcome. “Maker” culture is full of promise. Anything is possible. Really.
What if the goal of education were to produce a resourceful generation for whom innovation was simply part of the mix? In a world where change, often rapid and extreme, has become the “new normal” (see climate), the ability to adapt will require both collaborative networks and the confidence to invent.
When you come to any hackerspace in the world, you are among friends.
— from Dinosaurs and Robots (video)
One the key moments for me was the day one of the developers told me about “Hello World of the Month”… an exercise to take something they knew absolutely nothing about and figure out how do something useful with it… ‘We want to feel comfortable with learning new things. We need to feel comfortable not knowing so we can look for the answer.’ Now that’s the right attitude. We could all learn from that.”
— Eduardo Jezierski, CTO, InSTEDD / “iLabs: Community, Connection and a Culture of Innovation“
Among the suite’s highlights:
- What Makes an iHub Work? / HASH / White African blog
- RepRap wiki (includes videos)
- ReMade: The Rebirth of Maker Movement (documentary trailer / video)
Discoverability: the holy grail of digital content. Between search engine “filter bubbles,”the frenzy surrounding iTunes rankings and the graphically dismal world of wiki’s, a staggering amount of interesting content regularly falls through the cracks.
Does anyone ever get beyond the second page of a Google search?
We think about this a lot at TrackerNews, usually while on the hunt for one-off diamond-in-the-rough links.
There is a limit to what even the cleverest machine algorithms can deliver. Determining what information is useful at any given time, or for any given project, is very much an individual decision—one that must take into account the “human algorithm” of personal experience, online and off.
Curated aggregation, of course, is TrackerNews stock in trade, and a powerful combination. But a personal aggregation tool could be a game-changer. Imagine if anyone—everyone—could more deeply mine and share digital content. This, too, is a bottom up rather than a top down approach.