Blog Post #5

Reflection on Class

I have to admit that I was wary of Arduino, even after watching all the explanation videos last week and even seeing that a very super awesome teenage human (VSATH)was creating a bunch of activities with them. To me, Arduino was still a little circuit board of mystery. So obviously when we were presented with a variety of options last week, I chose Arduino. And I really enjoyed the projects that the VSATH’s book lead me and my partner through. Each one came with a distinct challenge that lead the user to learn more about how Arduino work and there capabilities.

I have to admit that I am now less wary of Arduino, although certain aspects are still possess a solid bit of mystery. Specifically, I didn’t take a lot of time to see how the code worked. As everything was open source, I simply copied and pasted the code into the Arduino.cc system. The only point I took a quick look was when one of the programs was not downloading to the Arduino. When I was scanning the code, I saw that you could change the sensitivity of the speaker/touch pad by simply lowering a number. Every line of code possessed a comment next to it that explained why it was there. In fact, it was even sectioned off to show you what parts could be easily altered. In short, the code part of the program might be even cooler than the program actually running.

One thing I noticed was a difference in group dynamics from two weeks ago compared to last week. Two weeks ago every person in class was grouped around the big table with a box of miscellany, sharing ideas and helping each other solve problems. Last week everyone had a lot more space between them both literally and physically. There was a lot less interaction, even when the different groups of people were having problems. At one table, there were three groups of people all working on the same project. One group was sailing through the VSATH book with very few problems, another could not get the Arduino.cc program up and running, while the third had a few more problems throughout the process. Despite being at the same table, there was very little talking between groups to the extent our professor had to ask us to help each other. What was the difference between those two weeks? I could expound on a huge variety of things that were different between those two weeks and take up pages of text. However, these differences will probably change in every group. So, I think the point is to be conscious of group dynamics and identify individualized solutions to encourage interaction.

This week I want to be more aware of what other are doing and actually try to understand the Arduino code. Think of it as doing an experiment, while actually doing an experiment. I will experiment with Arduino code and try to learn how it can be altered to do slightly different functions. While doing this, I will see how I can improve group dynamics at my table. I could be asking questions I already know the answer to, to help another person solidify their learning, or simply chatting about the weather. I simply want to see what types of interactions bring back that sense of shared experience from two weeks ago.


Reflection on Readings

I understand and value tutorials. However, I would like to see people embrace other aspects of the maker movement within the tutorial itself, this could be doing Arduino tutorials together or showing how to make the tutorial project your own through aesthetic suggestions. The making of the Arduino itself was fueled by many people, it would be nice to see this tradition continue. Massimo Banzi touches on this point when talking about the success of Arduino, which he attributed to people making projects, documenting, put online, sharing information on how the build the product. I see people sharing information on how to build the product and people putting finished products online, but I do not see an explanation of why we did this, where we got our ideas from, or how this product could be extended upon. I think of it kind of like an academic article situating itself within the existing literature and then suggesting possible extension or room for exploration.

I found the Lilypad Arduino tutorial very informative. I did not know conductive thread existed and now I do! However, I did not learn why the Lilypad is better for this project than another type of Arduino or what other projects I could use these skill on; I did not have context. Which is the reason I enjoy how Banzi situated the Arduino project within the world itself. In an era where our world is designed for our use, he believes the movement allows us to take charge of the world around us. That one idea gave me a million. The context told me that my imagination was the limit for this particular product. Meanwhile the lack of context in the Lilypad tutorial left me less than inspired and wondering why I want the skill being offered.

 

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