Tag Archives: making

Suggested Reading: Open Science, Apologies, Dark Patterns and more

Some links I think worth reading today.

Impact Through Connection – Video Interview

Early last year the Frisian regional library service and I collaborated on a great experiment with a primary school class. Titled ‘Impact through connection’, we worked with a group of 10-year olds. They came up with things they’d like to change in their neighbourhood, and we assisted them in mastering the technologies and methods needed to do that. I designed the process, and guided that first group of pupils through the conversations to get them started on their designs. Since then the Frisian regional library service has used my process design in a series of projects.

Standing in the courtyard of the former prison Blokhuispoort. Photo Jeroen de Boer

Yesterday, as part of a video documenting some of the results, I was interviewed. Standing in the freezing cold wind in the court yard of the former prison in Leeuwarden, now bustling hub of creativity and start-ups, in this year’s European Capital of Culture, I answered questions. I might look to be nervous in the video, but I was actually shivering from the cold.

Being asked questions about a project a year ago was useful, as I heard myself put things into words that made them stand out more to me too.

Asked about a memory from the project that stands out for me, I mentioned the huge cheers and applause I got when I returned to the classroom for the third session. I had guided the group in the first session where I talked with them about the things they might want to do, listened to their ideas and together slowly created the first plans. The second session I could not attend, and then I showed up a bit late for the third, and was loudly cheered. Although it is of course nice to be cheered, what is important here is how it shows what we succeeded in doing that first session: build trust and make sure they realized we indeed listened to them and meant it when we said they were the ones to decide.

Another question was about the impact we achieved. Two things are important indicators I think. One of the children I met again during the summer on an Austrian campground by coincidence. The energy and inspiration was still there, six months on, so that seems a lasting effect. An effect also apparent from other feedback we got from the group. The other thing was that in the very first session several children talked about how they weren’t really good at anything or that something they were good at wasn’t useful. I found it quite shocking to hear that from these 10 year olds. One of the children said liking to make things beautiful, but that it wouldn’t be of use. We talked with the group about how in designing things, structure, function and look & feel are equally important. If an object isn’t well shaped it won’t be used, just as much as when it isn’t functional. We succeeded in counteracting some of those assumptions, I feel, and that’s a good lasting result. Making things beautiful was an important part of the project. Other kids, including one who said having no particular skill, came up with an important role in the project we had overlooked ourselves: reporting and documenting.

3D Camp Limerick: Mixing Open Data and Making

Earlier today I gave a short talk at 3D Camp in Limerick, Ireland. I explored how open data can inform digital making, and how digital making can help create data. So that we can get around to making things that matter, that solve something for us or the communities we’re part of. Away from making as an individual act, creating a single object. We’re not living up to the potential of social media, open data, internet of things and digital making. In part because we’re still learning, in part because these four things form silos, with not much cross-over. So I discussed how to build a bridge between open data and making. So we can best make use of the new affordances these new tools give us. That goes beyond acquiring skills (like being able to operate a laser cutter) to becoming making literate where you are able to detect what is needed for your living environment to work/be better, then conceptualize, and make a solution, that creates impact through application.

Slides below.

Heatherwick: Extraordinary Making

Last week Elmine and I were in London visiting the Olympic Games. One afternoon we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum and saw the Heatherwick Studio exhibition.

Heatherwick Studio designed the Olympic flame for the London 2012 Olympics.

Thomas Heatherwick graduated in 1994 and has gone on to do some awe inspiring work, ranging from furniture design to architecture to full urban planning.

What is fascinating to see from this exhibit is how key elements are his desire to incorporate naturally occurring phenomena, use the context the finished project will be in, (rediscover) authentic craftmanship, as well as let materials co-determine designs based on their behavior or responses to e.g. gravity, heating or pressure.

This expresses itself in things like:

  • prototypes are not just mock-ups but fully functional miniature versions of the final solution, including the building processes needed for the final construct
  • lots of experiments to find new production methods, and ways to shape materials
  • no outsourcing of model making: all models are made in-house and become part of the design process. Holding objects in your hands changes your thinking. “It helps to create a more intuitive design process”
  • truly multidisciplinary teams, and working closely with clients and external craftsmen throughout the process
  • methods, packaging, process and work forms all express the same values

It results in truly amazing projects, which Heatherwick self categorizes under ‘Making’.
It was apparent from the exhibit: a lot of the exhibits had undergone some work with laser cutters. Its typical smell was quite noticeable if you came closer to the displays.

Very inspiring, as it showed me how design, and yes, beauty can be integral part of making. Lots to think about, lots to digest.


Heatherwick’s book ‘Making’