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Making stuff that matters: technology-mediated making

Ton and Elmine did it again – organising a birthday unconference, this time focusing on Making Stuff That Matters. For me it was a great opportunity to meet old friends and to explore the world of making things in a technology-mediated way (and to see how it feels to attend an unconference with three kids 🙂

3D printers are cool. Especially if there are many of them in the same room. Especially when there are people around who know what they are doing.
Doodling on iPad and then printing that is fun to try and easily accessible even for the kids, but the learning curve is steep if you want to make something really useful.

Wanting to make something we could use I went for a laser cutter project, trying to make a travel doll bed for Emily. I had a paper prototype made at home, spend lots of time making a laser cutter friendly drawing of it. I didn’t get much further than cutting a beta version, which we ended up finishing by hand. Making it by hand would probably be easier to start with, however it’s the experience that matters.

And a few things to summarise my experience:

  • Printing things or using laser cutter precision to make stuff are additional languages to learn and to use, extending your opportunities for interacting with the world.
  • The learning curve is steep, so I guess the future is more about reusing designs than about making your own.
  • At the end, it’s about the empowerment, “yes I can make it”, the culture of prototyping and sharing, where the instruments are accessible to the end user.
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