Blog Post #11

Reflection on Class

I left class last week with a desire to tear all my clothes apart and create. This was surprising to me; it was an attitude completely opposite from the one with which I had walked into class. I was standing in front of the table with dozens of discarded clothing and I was thinking that I could take a few home to wear them. The last thing I wanted to do was tear, rip, and cut them into pieces. My brain was personifying clothes. Oddly enough, I found a lot of the tutorials were aimed at preserving the integrity of the clothing item. For instance, a t-shirt turned into a bag maintained the logo front and center – the feeling of the shirt was not altered.

Making the first cut on my long sleeved button up men’s shirt was liberating. Although, I have to confess I only cut off the sleeves. So technically, it could still be a vest… That being said, I transformed those sleeves. They no longer resemble long tubes of fabric made for arms. I realized it was not a waste of a shirt, but a sort of rebirth. They have an entirely new life as the lining for a bag. And yes, I am personifying the shirt again. But, I would (and probably no one else would) ever have worn that shirt again. Now, the fabric has a new use. It isn’t wasting away in the bottom of a drawer or the rack of a consignment store. I now understand the desire – that embodies the DIY movement – to reuse and make use of any available material.

In a way, the results are much more authentic than simply picking fabric out at the store. You can make everything match and look perfect, but you also do not get the opportunity to adapt. If I had used regular fabric, I would not have ended up with my a very unique and cool closure made from the cuff of the shirt for my little bag. It would have been much more generic. The uniqueness of the maker movement’s final products is inspiring. I may start doing my fabric shopping at Salvation Army instead of Jo-Ann Fabrics.

Reflection on Readings

I find the pressure for each successive generation to be “ahead of the times” or ahead of the previous generation a rather fascinating phenomenon. There is this pressure that arose in the post war era to be better, to know more, and to achieve more than those who came before. Talk about pressure. It is a pressure that I see in the maker movement today.

When you decide to DIY something you could buy, there is a pressure for it to cost less, be better, or be individualized to better meet your needs than the store bought item. Just like all the children’s shows attempted to tell a story about the future and direct the cultural narrative towards tomorrow’s high achieving space kid, there are hundreds of shows devoted to both professionals DIY-ers meant to inspire the masses of makers. Each of these shows demonstrates some kind of social utility, like that surrounding children’s interest in space and bringing family together.

The relationship between science and the social sphere that was alluded with the idea of social utility comes to a head in the discussion of the Exploratorium. The romanticism of science was in decline during this period and yet, the pressure to be ahead of the times remained. In all of this confusion of a generation realizing the repercussions of scientific exploration in the form of war and pollution was a sort of throwback utopian museum – the Exploratorium. There was a freedom to exploration in the promotion of interactivity that erased the pressure of being the future.

In the backdrop of this seemingly stand alone throwback to childhood creativity and freedom in a disillusioned world was another social group pushing for freedom. The liberationists wanted children to have more rights and for their worlds to become commingled with those of adults. I find it intriguing that the Exploratorium was able to reverse this view, using childhood curiosity to encourage both children and adults to revisit exploration without fears or doubts. It brought all ages together by focusing on children, while the liberationists wanted to bring children up to the level of adults. Regardless, each group was able to reach out and create a space that brought two different groups together. I wonder how the maker movement will bridge the gaps between its current followers and those left out due to race, gender, and socioeconomic status.

Just one last thing. Shout out to Heinlein for recognizing the difference between scientific knowledge and the necessary social science background that allows you to make sense of the implications and repercussions of the pure physical sciences.  When you take the maker movement and learning a new skill that is the physical science. Recognizing that not everyone has access, tools or skills to accomplish the same task is the social science of the situation. I think that learning with a conscious mind is one of the most important things.



2 thoughts on “Blog Post #11

  1. You’re statements on how to preserve the integrity of a clothing item even as you remake it reminded me of the T-shirt quilts a lot of people make> I love this idea of being able to save your memories in a way that’s even more functional than a bunch of old t-shirts that you never wear and that are not in “donation” shape, sitting a box in the attic because you are too sentimental to throw them away! I think having the skill to re-purpose clothing would be so amazing to have and I hope someday I find the motivation within to pursue learning that skill. I am somewhat regretting my decision to spend class messing around with my Arduino to no avail, because I think I would have had a lot of fun with this project.


  2. I also feel like we’ve added consistently more and more pressure to each new generation of children. Though not explicitly about the pressure of learning, your comments in the first paragraph of your reflection reminded me of Kevin Kelly’s explication about how technology lives in What Technology Wants:

    He describes technology as a living being that has become such a force in our society that it is now moving itself. I can’t help but think that the generation of new knowledge is working the same way. We have so much available to it, and I wonder just how much existing knowledge is driving what new generations learn and discover and how much actually comes from within.


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