Monday, January 30, 2017

4. Blog post: class and reading reflections


First, I absolutely loved getting to tour the library and meet some of the staff. It's an incredible collection, and I enjoyed hearing how it is assembled and cared for. I also gained an incredible amount of respect for library staff that I already knew to be talented, but now even more so.

Second, I enjoyed the flashlight activity, though found it challenging to be creative out of so many raw materials. I believe strongly in the power of constraint, both in my own work and that of others. When I took a few materials at random and limited myself to finding art in those, rather than coming up with a larger vision and finding the materials to execute it, it became much easier to create. I still felt that my creation was too derivative of the initial project, but there's no shame in building off of a good idea.

Finally, my biggest takeaway from the discussion was how close we all are to both the topics and the people involved in our studies. The discussion of Dougherty's work became a little more contentious than I had expected because I underestimated the personal connections he had to people in the room. While I think our conversation remained appropriate (critiquing methods, not people) I can see how it might have felt that way to some. I will endeavor to maintain my critical lens while also keeping the personal nature of the topic in mind.


“It’s not so much the dollar amount,” she said of the borrowed sewing machine. “It’s about the value of opportunity.”1
My takeaway theme from this week's reading is that makerspaces, makers, and the tools for making are largely concerned with access at the present moment. Arduino's genesis was all about creating easy access to tools that let students design and iterate (and hopefully learn) faster. Libraries provide valuable tools for the community. Many of the makers profiled by Dougherty, like Mister Jalopy, are involved in making the community more accessible or making items with an undercurrent of accessibility (like printing your own doll, which allows kids to make toys that look like them).

In addition, Dougherty did his best job so far getting me excited about making. As much as I have critiqued his approach, I became incredibly excited to go make something while reading the book. In fact, I came up with a new use for Amazon boxes (textured brown art surfaces for use with charcoal/crayons) and had to repeatedly stop reading to go organize electronics components and spec out some projects. It is obvious to me why Dougherty makes a good figurehead for the movement, and I was glad that he included a segment about gender and toys (as well as finally discussing Stallman, albeit briefly).

I didn't get a whole lot of useful content out of the Arduino videos and articles, but mostly because I'm already familiar with Arduino-style computers and projects. The most interesting example for me was the Ardusat, which I absolutely wanted to build myself. I placed an order today for some ESP8266 sensors and peripherals that I'm looking forward to using in some procrastination projects soon.


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