TagMAKE

Making my own bioplastics wallet (prototype)

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Since I’ve seen Jay Cousins‘ prototype of a wallet he made from self-produced bioplastics a few days ago, I’ve been enthusing about it. Jay kindly offered to run a workshop to teach some of us how to do the same thing. A bunch of people showed up to work with the material Jay had prepared. Below you’ll see some pics to get an idea of general goo-eyness as well as the results.

In case you’re wondering: Nope, it’s not a product you’d want to buy and rely on just yet; and nope, that’s not the point of the exercise. This is a very early prototype where the goal is to learn (about the production process etc) rather than the result. Could my first go at the wallet fall apart? Yes, anytime. But it’d still be totally worth it since I’ve learned a fair bit. And should the thing decide to fall apart next week, it wouldn’t matter: I could just cook up a new one, probably better than the first. (I might even get the stitching right.) Open design, anyone?

Wallet prototype. Bad stitching: my fault.

Open Design & Tinkering in Berlin

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Lately so much has been going on in Berlin that has to do with the whole field of open design, tinkering, DIY – and last week was another highlight. I had the chance to drop in at the Open Design Workshop at Betahaus. (Sadly I could only pop in for a few minutes, but that was enough to see – among many other things – Jay Cousins cooking up bioplastics from some starch and Martin Bauer doing some serious laser cutting. Awesome stuff, all of it!) It was the latest, but certainly not the last congregation of the whole cluster of tinkerers and makers and builders in Berlin. It’s a trend that has been going on for awhile, and all over the world, but it seems that Berlin is a very fertile ground for this kind of maker culture. (We also noticed that by the massive positive feedback as we were putting together the atoms&bits Festival last year.)

The Open Design workshop was a part of Social Media Week and organized and attended by a very diverse and cool group of people, all of which are extremely fine folks (and some of which are close friends of mine, so I’m totally biased here).

These two videos emerged from the workshop:

Delivered in Beta from KS12 on Vimeo.

I can’t find a good link except a Facebook page, so here’s the list of organizers taken off the Facebook page:

  • Michelle Thorne (http://thornet.wordpress.com), free culture advocate, works for Creative Commons, where she coordinates international CC activities.
  • Ronen Kadushin (http://www.ronen-kadushin.com) is a designer and educator pioneering “Open Design” as a concept and also as a company.
  • Luis Berríos-Negrón (http://www.luisberriosnegron.org) is an artist/architect and will contribute thoughts on his ongoing project ‘The anxious prop’
  • Jay Cousins, Mendel Heit, Chris Doering (http://jaycousins.wordpress.com) are part of the palomar5 network, material specialists and upcycling pros.
  • Martin Bauer (http://lasernlasern.de) is an expert at the lasercutting machine. He has used it to produce nearly everything imagineabe.
  • Philip Steffan (http://bausteln.de) is the founder of Bausteln, a network and platform for tinkers to meet, exchange ideas, and build things.
  • Nadine Freischlad is community manager at jovoto and involved in the open_sailing network (http://twitter.com/texastee)
  • Gabriel Shalom is a filmmaker and founder of KS12 studio, currently working on the collaborative (film)project (http://www.postcardsfromberlin.com)
  • Erik Nap and Arne Hendriks (http://waag.org) are representatives of Waag Society who’s hosting Amsterdam’s Fablab. Bas van Abel is representing Creative Commons Nederland, where he coordinates the open design program.

This is great stuff indeed. Props to the organizers, and thanks for the videos!

Impressions of ITP Springshow

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ITP is a program at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, and it looks simply awesome. Taken directly from their own mission statement, the ITP’s mission is “to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people’s lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible.”

Twice a year, the students showcase their works, most recently (yesterday) it was ITP Springshow 2009. I’m very glad I could make it there. The vibe is just great, it’s creative and it oozes innovation. The folks studying there are a mix of artists, tinkerers & hardware hackers, it seems.

When I walked in, I saw Clay Shirky hugging a needy object. (Which, if you ask me, is a great start to any show. Also gives you an idea about the kind of stuff you get to see here.) Other projects I found noteworthy or just cool were The Gotham Guide, a QR code based mobile tour guide; a visualization of the rat and bedbug populations in New York City; A Simple Mug, a project to visualize the impact a re-usable coffee mug can have on our environment; an iPhone app that lets you travel back in time through maps; The Mud Tub (seen in the video below), an experimental organic interface that lets users control a computer by digging through mud; a cheap water-testing device for UNICEF & Africa; a service that broadcasts the public Twitter timeline in audio format; a gorgeous wind-sensitive LED light show; a hybrid of Andean textile Art & 8-bit aesthetics; International finance data interpreted as fish; a digital underwater creature that reacts to being watched; Flowzilla, a mobile rapping app; a Greasemonkey script to play Wikipaths like we did when I studied in Sydney; a modified Altoids box to channel women’s frustration; Root Boots that allow you to re-connect to nature; A service for phone calls from the past; A hug measuring jacket; A micro-locative game about heights in the city; a social light switch (which reminded me of the Good Night Lamp, which I also love); a jacket for those who need long-term intravenous injections; and many others.

The Mud Tub, an experimental organic interface

I had a blast. If you have a chance, go see the next show.

There’s also a complete list of projects shown.