Reflection on Class
Before arriving in class last Tuesday, my idea of makers, the maker movement, maker faires, and everything else maker was very abstract. Doing the reading for my previous post, I saw the list of abstract terms associated with making growing larger and larger in my class. There were so many words that I could not bring down to Earth: technology, tools, crafts, hacking, persistence, and even, making itself. Luckily, our very first activity brought me back down to solid ground and stripped all the ponderous words from the idea. My class, making puzzles in the basement of a library, were makers in a maker space. What we made did not have to have a huge revolutionary meaning or even lasting power to exist beyond our three hour period. It was a very valuable exercise that allowed me to find my footing for the later discussion.
Speaking of those discussions, I want to further discuss a few of the tensions that complicate the idea of makers and maker spaces. To me, it seems like many of these tensions are rooted in a stereotype about some aspect of making. As far as I know at this moment, a main stereotype is that making consists of middle class citizens indulging in high tech leisure activities. That leaves a lot of people out. Even if we ignore the middle class and leisure aspects, we find funding. Those who have the money to make, can. Those who do not have the extra money to spend of space, materials, or classes to make, cannot. So we have a funding stereotype, where only certain people can afford to make. Even as we break it down, showing people how there are lower cost ways to be involved in the community, the feeling of making as a middle class privilege seems to remain. It is not an occurrence that is easily explained away in a sentence. In his Ted Talk, Dougherty highlights a kit for a technological making project that he exclaims is affordable for everyone from hobbyists to children. That kid costs $350 and is the cheapest one he mentions. The idea of what is affordable in the maker movement needs to be examined and reformed to include a wider variety of people. I do not know enough to fully address these ideas yet, furthering my knowledge about privilege among makers and ways to reach out to other communities would be key to future exploration. Right now, I believe it is an important tension to keep in mind as we continue on our maker journey.
Reflection on Readings
Free to Make: how the maker movement is changing our schools, our jobs, and our minds by Dale Dougherty with Ariane Conrad
I will not wax poetic about the maker status of the illustrious Dr Seuss, but he may have been responsible for the loose definition Dougherty provides in the Introduction to his book.
Makers make what they need
we are producers,
creators and sneeblers
builders and shapers
of the world that we see!
Making use of technology
not just electronic,
but any skill is free
apart of making esklee
Come one, come beedle
come knitter, come squeed
come elita, come physisist
making is yours
– Not quite Dr. Seuss
Later on, I hope to illustrate to you all an exacting picture of an elita. Please do not tell the sneebler, they are rather the jealous type and will not like missing out on the action. Incidentally the sneeblers are also excellent cooks. Before reading this week, I had not realized that cooking was considered apart of the maker movement. Obviously when you cook you can literally make a cake, but I was so caught up in the idea you had to make something that lasted and made an impact of some kind that I forgot about cooking. Cooking is something that I love to do, especially when what I am making tells a story. My family’s short bread is not just a cookie, but a way of opening a scrapbook.
That story making was very evident in an insightful Adam Savage quote that says “What distinguishes us as humans is our ability to make tools and tell stories”. Making my family cookie recipe is a way of telling stories. Including this idea of cooking, really allowed me to realize that the maker movement includes all different kinds of makers who all have their own unique take on making. The movement itself is not limited by constructs that exclude, but those stereotypes tied to it do.
One thing that the Ted Talk really drew out for me was Dougherty’s idea that makers want to be in control. Well that, and the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir. I started knitting at a time in my life when I felt the world was falling down around me. Each row represents something to me and the whole of my blanket (disguised as a scarf!) is a literal representation of knitting myself back together. It is a triumph and a comfort. When my hands and wrists are not up to knitting, I have begun to look to technology and coding for a more body-friendly outlet. Instead of lines of yarn, I have lines of code. Either way they represent the same thing and allow me to gain control over the world around me. For me, making is therapeutic.
This may seem in contrast to the idea that making is playful, like singing lobsters on an old VW. That would be an exclusionary idea. I found a sort of morbid whimsy in adding a line of odd colored yarn and imbedding poems in my code. The most important thing when we make and look at how others make is to accept what they make and who they are for what they make and who they are. The maker movement has the potential to be as inclusionary as its tenants promote it to be. It would be a very cool thing to be apart of making it that way.
Unfortunately, I was unable to access the Barnes & Noble blog post. I will try to access and include it in next weeks blog post.