bricolage podcast episode 1 Rachel Konichiwakitty

It’s finally here. Episode 1 of Bricolage, a podcast for Makers. In episode 1 I speak to Rachel Konichiawkitty!

 

Image the link below is a lovely embedded iFrames thing I can’t actually afford right now…

HERE BE THE PODCAST!

I think you can find it on iTunes and stuff… I don’t really know. Anyway, you can play it from here too. Don’t worry, I’ll get better at this!

Show notes:

In this first episode of Bricolage Podcast, Dominic speaks with Rachel Konichiwakitty in a meeting room at Imperial College, London.

The conversation touches on:
Gummi toe-beans (Senjyakuame Nikukyu Paw Shaped Gummy Candy)
Opening the present
Science museum (Meet a scientist day)
Radioactive spider bite
Choosing science
What about making?
Phd
Mindfulness (Headspace & School of Life)
RasPi/Science projects
Speaking at unconference
Stem cells
Optimism and progress
E-textiles (CuteCircuit)
Imposter syndrome
Questioning authorship
“People come up with the same solutions because we all have the same problems”
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Small pond
Podcasting
Gap year – pace yourself
The Winning Post
Work life balance
Mindfulness as a discipline (Headspace & School of Life)
Superheroes
You can find out more about Rachel and her projects @Konichiwakitty and on her website konichiwakitty.com/

This podcast is a Pangolini Studios Production with thanks to producers, Robert Nixdorf @diodenschein and research/show notes by Gillian, @ddiasco Why not follow @BricolagePod for the latest news!

Next time… Laura Kampf… no really… it is!

why I’m grumpy about @HackSpaceMag

First off, I am broadly in favour of a magazine aimed at makers and hackerspaces and I enjoyed (for the most part) the 1st issue of HackSpace Magazine. I’m generally in favour and supportive of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Code Club and Eben Upton etc. I do not consider Hackspace Magazine to be BAD PEOPLE, an enemy of makers or Hackerspaces or operating under anything but the best intentions. Also very many of my friends are featured in it… and will be in the future too I am sure. To them I am sorry for not giving you more encouragement in this venture.

You might have seen me tweeting about Hackspace Magazine.

My grumpiness with Hackspace Magazine stems from the naming of it. No one owns the name HackSpace as such and that’s why its very easy for Hackspace Magazine to take the name. I am told that representatives from the Raspberry Pi Foundation asked the current directors of the UK Hackspace Foundation if it was Okay to use the name. “Please, no.” was the response. The official line from the UK Hackspace Foundation is “We’re not happy but there’s not much we can do about it.” Whilst the Raspberry Pi Foundation spoke with the UK Hackspace Foundation about using the word, they had already registered Hackspace Magazine as a trademark and had no intention of changing it.

Why didn’t the Hackspace Foundation do something if its so wrong? I hear you ask. The UK Hackspace foundation is, well, lovable and scrappy, the people who do work on it find it hard to agree amongst themselves. With so many stakeholders represented agreement and universal consent to DO something takes a lot of time. This means that an unfunded and entirely volunteer run group like the UK Hackspace Foundation has a lot of people to consult before it can do anything, many of whom will disagree with even the majority view, each little fiefdom in the Hackspace world will need to be listened too. It is not an organisation capable of rapid decisions and change. Like your own Hackspace (assuming you have more than a handful of members and you aren’t run by a benevolent dictator) it takes a long time, if you are truly listening and engaging with all the stakeholders, to agree something. The answers might be clear in your own mind, but landing something with agreement in a Hackerspace, or flat hierarchy organisation takes time and often its just much easier to run out of time and do nothing.

When an organisation, that on the face of it, is better run, has funds, a mission and a clear leadership comes along, it is very very easy for it to torpedo or hijack a slower less well organised and agreed narrative. Like the narrative of the UK Hackspace Foundation.

You can find the UK Hackspace Foundation’s definition of a space here:

https://www.hackspace.org.uk/foundation/define.md

Why does it matter? The UK Hackspace Foundation, perhaps controversially, has tried to agree a definition for what IS and what IS NOT a Hackspace. Why should they do that? Well, if a space wishes to identify as a Hackspace, with the blessing of the foundation there should rightfully be some expectations about what that is. That’s a little difficult to determine because anyone (like for example a magazine) can attempt to own the term Hackspace at any time, the UK Hackspace Foundation has tried hard to stop people attempting to own the term, including themselves. I don’t personally agree with that. I think the Hackspace Foundation should be the keeper of the term, a use it in good faith along with those organisations that not only identify with the Hackspace Foundation, but meet the criteria to be recognised as a Hackspace by the Foundation, which in practice means recognised as such by other Hackspaces.

This, in my opinion, is to safeguard both the UK Hackspace Foundation and the potential member visiting a space. To give you two extreme examples.

  1. Leslie wishes to learn a lot more about electronics and laser cutters they are constantly being encouraged to visit their local “Hackspace” by a friend who is a member of one in a bigger city. Leslie searches around locally and finds something called a Hackspace. On visiting the Hackspace turns out to be the garden shed of a local maker, not a member run local organisation with elected trustees and is in no way recognised by the UK Hackspace foundation.
  2. Kerry wishes to learn more about embedded electronics and get access to a sewing machine. They hear about a Hackspace at a local company, however they can’t get in because they do not work at the company and its not for non-employees. They are disappointed.

I feel strongly that the UK Hackspace Foundation, who have been working on trying to provide clear information on what a Hackspace is, have, within the maker community, some rights to exercise control of that term. With even the very very best intentions, Hackspace Magazine can not communicate with all of the stakeholders who currently have something to say about UK Hackspaces. They have no intention of doing so because it would be nearly impossible, it has proved so for the UK Hackspace Foundation, who already struggle to speak for ALL UK Hackspaces. Then how and why would a magazine, run by an organisation that has had almost nothing at all to do with Hackspaces be able to clearly represent the thoughts and objectives of the UK Hackspace Foundation, or even any one given Hackspace?

Most strongly I feel that the “Hackspace of the Month” feature will be a very easy way of confirming Hackspace legitimacy on any given space. The first issue of the magazine features Cambridge Makespace, it has information right there that implies what a Hackspace is… it creates little factoids that start to set an idea in stone, that works to cement a narrative about Hackspace that is not one which is being created by the community, but by the editorial of the magazine.

(UKHF) “We don’t think your for-profit workshop, with a string of complaints about your behaviour is a Hackspace, sorry” … (Not a Hackspace)”But I was Hackspace of the month!”  (me…what I’m afraid of I guess).

So what then? Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m being needlessly grumpy, I really don’t. Am I trying somehow through ego to “own” the idea of Hackspaces? Maybe. Am I trying to make them noninclusive by dictating what IS and what ISN’T a space? I don’t think so. More than anything I am annoyed at the hi-jacking of a narrative by what should be an allied organisation. Through strong arming they will be well placed, if they mean-to or not, to define the future of Hackspaces in the UK. Maybe that’s fine. They’ve done a great job on the Raspberry Pi after all, and many many members of Hackspaces all over the world are big fans (rightfully so) of the Raspberry Pi and the Foundation. I would very much welcome your insights into this issue. I am more than open to being convinced I’m wrong. I really do want to be a supporter of RPiF and the magazine.

Maybe call it Bikeshed Magazine?

Lazy links list:

UK Hackspace Foundation

Raspberry Pi Foundation

Hackspace Magazine

My 2014 blog about Cambridge Makespace

disclosure: It is not lost on me that people might assume that my loyalty to Make: and Maker Faire is clouding my judgement. I recognise here as a form of disclosure that I am definitely a Make: person, however my view is that water raises all ships, and another magazine for makers is a good thing. Just call it something else.

an audio project

My #Makevember for November 17th is some audio. Breaking my own rules I recorded this on a Saturday and had help processing it from my friend Robert and then spent a little time recording some more bits and editing it together.

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I’ve given this audio project the working title of:

FAIL! the conquering hero 

This pilot episode is called “Two Hairy Hackers”

Warning – Dominic is sweary! 

The audio is a bit of a noisy mess so if you don’t like noisy messy noise in your ear, you should probably move on from this. So Paul has been encouraging me to record something for a while and one weekend he popped down to Nottingham with the express purpose of making me do it. Thanks, I guess!

Show notes:

  1. Paul Beech is the co-founder of Pimoroni and is @guru on twitter
  2. Paul mentions FabLab Manchester
  3. Paul mentions AccessSpace in Sheffield no longer running
  4. At one point Paul says “roadblock” but it sounds like “robot”
  5. Not sure why but the cafe staff turned the music up and then down
  6. Paul mentions “Bilge Tank” a live-streamed show from Pimoroni
  7. Dominic (that’s me) mentioned #Makevember
  8. Dominic mentions Casey Neistat
  9. Dominic mentions Mark Mellors

Thanks to Robert for doing his best to tidy my terrible audio and thanks to Bizet for being so old that he’s not litigious about using his music. The episode was recorded in Blend a cafe in Nottingham…. do the hustle.

Additional: the feedback I’ll get if I get any at all is as follows.

  1. Making a pop shield is easy “why don’t you just…” stretch some tights over an embroidery hoop or instructables.com
  2. Don’t record in a coffee shop.
  3. Why don’t you clean the audio using X or Y or some filter or some such?
  4. Why do you talk so much and not let Paul the actually interesting person who, I assume you are supposed to be interviewing, actually speak?
  5. This isn’t Hackallthespaces and where is Kate?
  6. You say “erm it’s like erm” a lot, like.
  7. Your intro is all muffled and echoey at the same time don’t you know how audio works?
  8. Why can’t I listen to this on (insert name of podcast platform) you idiot?
  9. Why didn’t you speak to (name of some other maker)?

Thanks and for next time, I’ll try.

 

the #makevember manifesto

 

  • Every day in November make a thing – if you can’t do it every day then do what you can, but the idea is to push yourself to work daily and with less procrastination. Do not attempt to put your ducks in a row first. 
  • Try to make something extra – art, craft, code, robots, video… anything…( but not your lunch or a mess or something you’d normally make anyway) something different with methods and materials that you don’t often try. #makevemeber is not for promoting your ETSY or tindie page or your everyday work #makevember stuff shouldn’t be FOR SALE. Make something different.
  • Don’t take more than a day to make it – if you only have 5 minutes that’s enough
  • Use what you have to hand, limiting your choice makes it easier – if you only have some mud and a stick, what would you make? Paper and a pen, what would you make? If you only have the stuff in your waste paper basket, what could you make?
  • Do it wherever you find yourself – working outside your usual space is good. If you find yourself on a train or plane, at the beach or in a hotel… what can you make?
  • Share it online with a photo or video – Instagram/twitter/facebook whatever, you know what to do #makevember
  • Be kind to yourself – it is more than okay to share something that is not going to change the world or that is a little bit squiffy or half-formed, even something that didn’t work.
  • Done, is good enough – You’ve been locked in a room you have only what’s in your pockets and in the room and a short time to make something, ask yourself, what would MacGyver do?

 

So is this #inktober but making instead of ink drawing?

Yes, you got it! These daily challenges aren’t anything new and are great fun! I’ve seen it done and done well by lots of people some of whom I’ll mention later. #makevember takes heavy inspiration from Jake Parker’s #inktober, Jake wanted a challenge he says “I created Inktober in 2009 as a challenge to improve my inking skills and develop positive drawing habits.” he goes on to say that “…INKtober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more you’re consistent the better. That’s it! Now go make something beautiful*.” The same applies to #makevember. (* let’s just say subjectively beautiful as in…Yay! You did it, go you! Note this tweet.)

Yellow Sub
Yellow Submarine by Libby Miller

So where did #makevember come from?

I’m not sure there is anything new… yes, it’s been used before and even (I think) for similar work. This iteration of it and this manifesto came out of a conversation between myself and a guru of mine Richard Sewell (a maker known as Jarkman, famed for his spork making workshops, techno related projects and generally being a good egg and maker at large). Richard was telling me about our friend Libby’s Tumblr page makeathingaday.tumblr where Libby Miller (Bristol Hackspace, Radiodan, LibbyBot) has already started to challenge herself to make a thing-a-day… she told me

“I stumbled on Jason Taylor’s objects.blog and just thought – what a brilliant idea – I was really impressed that he kept on doing it for a year and that he wasn’t afraid to fail or do variations on a theme, or just bodge together something quickly, and some of them were fantastic (e.g. this and this “Spinge!”).”

Fast Creature
Fast Creature by Libby Miller

Libby is our pioneer and has been going at making something every day for few weeks. She said.

“Having done it for a month or so now, the best thing about it is that you’re constantly looking at objects, thinking “what can I make out of that?”- it’s made me more observant (I’m sure this is true of Inktober, too), and more likely to notice the character of materials. I usually have a couple of possibilities in mind by the end of any day. I plan slightly bigger things for the weekend. I’m getting better at thinking of ideas and at bodging things together to see if they work. It seems to work best when I’m surrounded by my bits and pieces in my shed, but being stuck with nearly-nothing and no time is good too, constraints work well. I can’t over-emphasise that it’s ok to be crap too. Quite a few things I’ve done so far are failures, but I still learned something. People I know keep suggesting things, and I’m embracing that and crediting them!”

Richard added, one thing  “…I love about these tiny, shoddy makes is that each one is playing with a single working principle or design idea. The need to make them simple and to make them quickly actually means they can be quite informative, setting up an idea in my head that might be part of a bigger thing in the future.” He went on to say that it reminded him of the pressure we (me, Richard, Libby and others) felt when exploring a daily practice of writing out 10-ideas, in the last 3 or so, you’ve run out of ideas… and when you are out there at the edge, that’s when the weird and sometimes best stuff comes to you. You are forced to think of something, anything… he said, “An effect I can’t describe very coherently – like finding the last couple of entries for a 10-ideas list, the pressure to find a simple-enough thing to make from limited supplies leads to a kind of stretching of the inventing muscles, finding not-obvious choices.” He told me that a friend of his David McGoran of RustySquids had described this sort of practice as “doing your scales” comparing how musicians run through drills and practices to improve their work. Its those sort of daily practices which help us in ways we maybe cannot imagine because at face value they don’t seem to be the sort of making we dream about.

A strong influence on me is the work of Martin Raynsford, who blogged about 365 laser cut projects for 365 days. When Martin and I worked together, I remembered how these iterations, each day took Martin from a laser cutting and CAD beginner to one of the most respected people in the hobbyist laser cutting world! It was those off days, where something new had to be thought of or something bigger was needed that really stretched Martin and made those design muscles and techniques much stronger. Literally like working a muscle, it only grows when it hurts.

For my part, I’m interested in mistakes, I’m interested in the learning that occurs at the edges of ability and what happens when we don’t have our usual, comfortable options. When giving the elevator pitch of this to makes, some say things like “Oh no, I’m away for part of November.” To me, that shows that they’ve already told themselves a story of how and what they make, what they make it with and where. #makevember is about taking ourselves out of those places, at least sometimes and seeing what develops at the edges of comfort.

So, please join me this November in pushing yourself to make things even make them badly, quickly, from whatever you have, wherever you are and then share them. Let’s #makevember.

Influences: Fixers Manifesto, Makers Bill of Rights, everydayobjects, MRaynsford, INKtober, Libby’s thingaday.tumblr & Angus MacGyver.

Photo credits: Used with kind permission by Libby Miller & Jason Taylor.

#219. Bottle guts
#219. Bottle guts by Jason Taylor
macgyver
WWMD by Dominic Morrow

 

 

6th annual derby mini maker faire

So the 6th Derby Mini Maker Faire marks something of the end of an era. With the Silk Mill about to go into 2 years of renovation, this will be the last Faire at the Mill until 2020 when a bigger Faire with a different format is on the cards.

DNPAYulX4AYrRBk

In the meantime, Derby Museums team intend to take Derby Mini Maker Faire on the road. It’s not 100% certain what that will look like yet, but early indications show that it will involve a Museum of Making bus and local industry partners.

I would like to thank all the staff at Derby Museums and all the volunteers, crew and makers who’ve made Derby Mini Maker Faire what it is over the years. I’d especially like to take time to thank Hannah, Andrea, Emma, Kim, Jonathan and Chris for all their work on this event.

Picture credits go to Richard Sewel (@jakman) and the wonderful Emma Hallam.

a sign of the times

I recently got a bit of encouragement on twitter for my blog post about the lost Nottingham Canal. If anything I only need the slightest provocation to geek-out about local history of lost infrastructure. Whenever I travel anywhere I always keep one eye out for “things-that-don’t-belong-to-our-time” in the built environment.

IMG_1214
Junction of Colwick Road and Racecourse Road, just after Colwick Railway Crossing.

 

One such thing that I’ve been noticing for (probably) about the last 15 years is the “Nottingham Racecourse” sign on Racecourse Road, in Sneinton. No doubt you could speculate, why not have a sign for the Racecourse on Racecourse Road?

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I don’t think the sign is especially old, probably from the 50s or 60s. The sign is made of box section metal and wood. The wooden parks are rotting away and will be gone soon and who knows how long the sign will last. Someone has tried to pull the “E” off the end of racecourse and a arrow has lost it’s wooden head. There seems to be wooden holders at the top of the sign where I suppose the next race meet could be advertised? These are in a bad state and will rot away in the next 5 to 10 years I’d have thought.

IMG_1222

This sign is utterly unloved and forgotten, it’s neither been painted nor used in the time I’ve lived in Nottingham. Furthermore it seems to be in the wrong place. Way would it be North of the Daleside Road Roundabout? Why doesn’t Colwick Road go to Colwick? It’s these questions which make a mildly interesting puzzle game for me.

Having lived in the city only for about 15 years I’d not know that Daleside Road is fairly new having been built in about 1985. I’d not know that the eastern half of Daleside Road from the Racecourse roundabout follows the course of a removed railway line, and that the racecourse had it’s own station. Evidence of the line is plainly seen west of Racecourse road alongside Bendigo Lane (expect a blog post on Bendigo at a later date) and is an interesting walk/cycle for infrastructure geeks to get into town.

IMG_1228
Racecourse Road sign about where the Racecourse Station would have started.

 

Racecourse Road, of course, used to be the ONLY road to the racecourse, there being no Daleside Road at all. The Racecourse sign would have been just before a railway bridge, about where the roundabout is now and traffic east would have run along Colwick Road, the ghost of which can be seen between Daleside Road and the racecourse, after the dog track. You don’t have to search very hard or look at many old maps to get the answers.

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I’m utterly in love with the National Library of Scotland’s OS map overlay onto Bing Maps and would strongly recommend it to any infrastructure geeks as a tool to take out-and-about with you.

I know this sign will be something that many Nottingham reader will have seen and even easily remember it in use. I’d love to hear comments or recollection below filling in the gaps. Thank you and more soon.

maker faire, the european edition. rome 2015

If you are a serious British maker with a project you’d like to promote or commercialise or even if you simply want to improve your network or get some new ideas you should be at Maker Faire Rome. Whilst on paper it is no way bigger than a US flagship faire, this quirky king-rat of an event is teaming with makers from all over Europe and visitor numbers in the tens of thousands.  

 The Faire is run by the Rome Chamber of Commerce who are a government/public sector organisation tasked with providing support and promotion to Roman businesses. One way they do this is by providing trade shows. This gives the Chamber extensive experience in running events and they have all the required equipment (marquees, fork trucks, security staff, fencing panals) and exstensive partners with which to do it.  

 Maker Faire Rome or more (or less) officially Maker Faire European Edition (depending on who you speak to) is in its third year as an event and on its third venue too. This fact is amazing to me and refreshing too. I strongly hold the belief that Faires need to have contingency plans to grow and reinvent themselves. It’s a bugbear of mine that some Faires really arn’t about the city or country they are in (and named after) but are really about the venue they are held in. This happens because generally the team doing most of the work will likely be the venues in house team and a Faire is a good way to create attention for your venue.  

 The layout of the Faire is interesting, there are large marques from A to Z (though I’m not 100% sure there are 26 in total) with exhibitors dotted about outside and around them too. There are a large number of rooms, stages and workshop areas for the conducting of hands on activities, talks and performances as well as food concessions stands and a Maker Shed type shop space. The Faire itself (possibly controversially) occupies the campus of Sapienza University of Rome, it has been fenced off at the usual entry points. The Faire is utilising some of the University buildings for talks (mostly in Italian) but seem to prefer to use the outside spaces and marquees.  

 The Faire runs over 3 days open to visitors, a schools and education day on the Friday with general admision on Saturday and Sunday. The main downside is that the Faire is super busy and the marques become very cramped and stuffy and moving about the Faire is difficult. The Romans seem very polite and freindly and about 60% of them are very happy to speak in English which is very nice of them, the other 40% or so don’t speak English but are loverly all the same. For this faire being able to speak Spanish or Italian would be an advantage. One good technique for exhibiting is putting information in Italian on a poster explaining your project and that you don’t speak Italian.  

 Having come solo without a project I’m keen to find opportunities to network and socialise with other makers, something I don’t actually find especially easy when its forced. As a good ice-breaker Robert Fitzsimons and I are trying to organise a Bay Area style “Bring-A-Hack” social this Sunday evening. If it goes well I might blog about it.  

  
 I’ll not try here to blog about projects I’ve seen. I like project but as you can probably tell if you read my posts I’m much more interested in the organisation of the Faire itself. There was everything you’d expect to see here and maybe a few surprises? FabLabs are big in Italy and there are very many represented here with all manner of projects. It’s amongst the FabLab stalls that you can find the most interesting and innovative of the exhibitors in my opinion. If anything I’d like to see more amature tinkerers with crazy projects. I think the event has the flavour of a trade faire gone wild. Projects that have impressed me are the Zero-Mile-House-Printer a delta 3D printer that uses local mud and water to print shelters. It’s impressively big. There is also a monolithic drone cage titled “house of drone” (is that how they call Game of Thrones here? House of Thrones?) it’s the biggest drone cage I’ve seen. 

So I thought I’d sneak this in at the end. This is likely my last blog of this type. I may continue to write up my visits to Maker Faires but they will be as picture albums or similar. I’m going to be entirely revamping my blog content to be much more specific on a couple of niche subject. Farewell dear readers, it’s been “fun”. I apologise for any spelling mistakes, WordPress app is shiv.