Here is some stuff to think about from a "marketing and sales" perspective for OM. :-)
From: "School for Hackers: The do-it-yourself movement revives learning by doing." by Mark Frauenfelder (Editor-in-chief of Make Magazine) http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/10/school-for-hacker... """ Imagine a school where kids could do the following: clone jellyfish DNA; build gadgets to measure the electrical impulses of cockroach neurons; make robotic blackjack dealers; design machines that can distinguish between glass, plastic, and aluminum beverage containers and sort them into separate bins; and convert gasoline-burning cars to run on electric power. No such school exists, but in August I went to Detroit and met the kids who did all these things, and more. They along with 22,000 other people had come from all over the United States and Canada to demo their creations at Maker Faire, a two-day festival of do-it-yourselfers, crafters, musicians, urban homesteaders, kit makers, scientists, engineers, and curious visitors who congregated to present projects, give performances, and swap ideas. Having attended eight Maker Faire events since 2006 (they re put on by the same company that owns the magazine I edit), I ve become convinced of two things about children and education: (1) making things is a terrific way to learn, and (2) schools are failing to teach kids to learn with their hands. The ideal educational environment for kids, observes Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College who studies the way children learn, is one that includes the opportunity to mess around with objects of all sorts, and to try to build things. Countless experiments have shown that young children are far more interested in objects they can control than in those they cannot control a behavioral tendency that persists. In her review of research on project-based learning (a hands-on, experience-based approach to education), Diane McGrath, former editor of the Journal of Computer Science Education, reports that project-based students do as well as (and sometimes better than) traditionally educated students on standardized tests, and that they learn research skills, understand the subject matter at a deeper level than do their traditional counterparts, and are more deeply engaged in their work. In The Upside of Irrationality, Dan Ariely, a behavioral psychologist at Duke University, recounts his experiments with students about DIY s effect on well-being and concludes that creating more of the things we use in daily life measurably increases our feelings of pride and ownership. In the long run, it also changes for the better our patterns of thinking and learning. Unfortunately, says Gray, our schools don t teach kids how to make things, but instead train them to become scholars, in the narrowest sense of the word, meaning someone who spends their time reading and writing. Of course, most people are not scholars. We survive by doing things. So it makes sense that members of the DIY movement see education itself as a field that s ripe for hands-on improvement. Instead of taking on the dull job of petitioning schools to change their obstinate ways, DIYers are building their own versions of schools, in the form of summer camps, workshops, clubs, and Web sites. Tinkering School in Northern California helps kids build go-karts, watchtowers, and hang gliders (that the kids fly in). Competitions like FIRST Robotics (founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen) bring children and engineers together to design and build sophisticated robotics. Unschooler parents are letting their kids design their own curricula. Hacker spaces like NYC Resistor in Brooklyn and Crash Space in Los Angeles offer shop tools and workshops for making anything from iPad cases to jet packs. Kids in the Young Makers Program (just launched by Maker Media, Disney-Pixar, the Exploratorium, and TechShop) have built a seven-foot animatronic fire-breathing dragon, a stop-motion camera rig, a tool to lift roofing supplies, and new skateboard hardware. When a kid builds a model rocket, or a kite, or a birdhouse, she not only picks up math, physics, and chemistry along the way, she also develops her creativity, resourcefulness, planning abilities, curiosity, and engagement with the world around her. But since these things can t be measured on a standardized test, schools no longer focus on them. As our public educational institutions continue down this grim road, they ll lose value as places of learning. That may seem like a shame, but to the members of the growing DIY schooling movement, it s an irresistible opportunity to roll up their sleeves. """
Also, related to that, is a five minute video about Mark Frauenfelder's journey into making more of his own stuff, including how when you make things yourself they have stories, and linking this to a change in our culture after WWII and losing an important part of human existence as tool makers and tool users as a human need: "Boing Boing Co-Founder Mark Frauenfelder on Maker Education"
As Mark Frauenfelder suggests, from the fossil record, we've had opposable thumbs useful to make things longer than we've been labeled "human". So, making stuff (and using it), is, as he suggests, an important fundamental human need.
Here is a related suggestion by me, although it is not DIY except in the sense of crafting an idea for a proposal to the government: :-) "Build 21000 flexible fabrication facilities across the USA" http://pcast.ideascale.com/a/dtd/44897-8319
Anyway, that, IMHO, is what is probably going to happen, eventually -- widespread government support for the equivalent of TechShops and FabLabs. But it may not happen until there are hundreds of examples everywhere that people have built up as a labor of love, to address a common "failure of the imagination" when confronted with new ideas (or, sometimes, very old ones. :-)
And people might rightly question to what degree government involvement will ruin things, even though, in defense of government involvement in some things, nobody says much about local and federal support of book-based libraries at this point (except generally good stuff, and even if it took Andrew Carnegie's philanthropy to actually get a bunch of book libraries built across the USA, to extend an idea Benjamin Franklin popularized around Philadelphia). If we are going to bother taxing communities at all, is not supporting a local common library of tools and skills a good idea? (Obviously, I'm mostly preaching to the choir, here. :-)
Anyway, for people looking for support for creating DIY communities, promoting the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) aspects is one obvious way (although it kind of buys into the school ideology to phrase it that way). Still, I can wonder if the point Mark makes, to connect that proposal to the fundamental human experience and a fundamental need to make stuff, may be even more important than "STEM" in terms of truly gathering lots of support within a community? So, why not be up front about it (in whatever way presents that idea effectively in our respective cultures and organizations)?
For example, how would one apply that idea of the human need to make things in a historical society? That's not just a theoretical question for me, as last night I was formally voted on to the board of a non-profit local historical society we have been involved with for about eight years. I would expect the point that Mark makes about the change in culture after WWII would resonate with anyone interested in preserving (in an active way) the better parts of US history. So, within the context of our local historical society, I am going to see, over time, how Mark's very clearly put message can fit into its educational mission, maybe to promote more "making" related activities (and there are some aspects of that already within the organization to build on). Obviously, I'm not very good at clearly and succinctly crafted messages, so I'll have to work on that. :-) But I think Mark has outlined in his video essentially an emotional strategy to connect the active past to our ongoing future, one that can apply in a lot of contexts, whether backward-looking historical societies, present-oriented alternative schools, or forward-facing FabLabs.
And I've been learning that to be whole and happy people, we need all three perspectives -- past, present, and future -- as suggested here by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd: http://www.thetimeparadox.com/ (I'll have more to say on that in a next post.)
Anyway, so I'd suggest that this emotion stuff is important in that sense. I forget where I read it (possibly G. William Domhoff) but someone made essentially the point that when you appeal to a person's economic interests, they may invest a bit of money, but when you appeal to a person's emotional interests, they may invest their entire life.
It's probably easy for, especially in a frequently "macho" making culture in the USA (ignoring all the stuff many women make every day, like food or social relationships), to overlook the soft-seeming emotional resonance of making things and actively using things you've made. I mean, we make stuff because it's important for bringing home the spinach, not because it wimpily "resonates emotionally", right? :-) http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/wimp (For the Popeye reference)
So, it's easy to dismiss those genuine feeling as irrational or unimportant (or unmanly). Especially when constantly inundated with commercial messages to buy, buy, buy premade things and save time (as in time for what? making stuff, ironically? :-) But, as Mark points out,
> Here is a related suggestion by me, although it is not DIY except in the > sense of crafting an idea for a proposal to the government: :-) > "Build 21000 flexible fabrication facilities across the USA" > http://pcast.ideascale.com/a/dtd/44897-8319
> Anyway, that, IMHO, is what is probably going to happen, eventually -- > widespread government support for the equivalent of TechShops and FabLabs. > But it may not happen until there are hundreds of examples everywhere that > people have built up as a labor of love, to address a common "failure of the > imagination" when confronted with new ideas (or, sometimes, very old ones. > :-)
I looked up the current wording of HR6003 at thomas.loc.gov by searching for fab lab:
(a) Establishment- The National Fab Lab Network incorporated by this Act (hereinafter in this section referred to as the `NFLN') is hereby authorized and empowered to receive either real or personal property and to hold the same absolutely or in trust, and to invest, reinvest, and manage the same in accordance with the provisions of its constitution and to apply said property and the income arising therefrom to the objects of its creation and according to the instructions of its donors.
(b) In General- The National Fab Lab Network (NFLN) shall exist as a nonprofit entity whose purpose is to facilitate the piece by piece construction of an actual network of connected labs. The NFLN itself shall not represent an overseeing, regulating, or coordinating body of this distributed network, but will merely exist to facilitate its construction. <snip> (d) Functions- (1) To serve as the coordinating body... (2) To serve as the first point of contact for organizations interested in constructing and operating a Fab Lab and to maintain a first-come first-serve wait list of those organizations. (3) To work out to the satisfaction of NFLN staff and board members the ability of interested organizations to successfully host a Fab Lab. ... (4) To match those organizations who meet with the NFLN's approval... (5) To advertise or perform other outreach activities to those organizations that might have interest ... <snip> Purposes- In carrying out its functions, the NFLN's purposes and goals shall be--
(1) to facilitate the construction of a new type of information and digital fabrication infrastructure; specifically, in all its actions to facilitate and encourage the construction of a decentralized network of connected Fab Labs;
(2) to promote the goals of greater science, technology, engineering, and math education, workforce development in the areas of manufacturing and product design, increased innovation and invention in the private sector, as well as scientific and academic discovery through the use of distributed digital fabrication tools; and
(3) to seek to establish at least one Fab Lab per every 700,000 individuals in the United States in the first ten years of its operation.
(f) Funding- The NFLN may accept donations from private individuals, corporations, government agencies, or other organizations.
----------- The key details that give this a flavor are 1 fab lab per 700K people, and goals are set out by donors of equipment, who can be corps or individuals or govt. and first come first served as far as creating a list of interested fab lab groups...
>> Here is a related suggestion by me, although it is not DIY except in the >> sense of crafting an idea for a proposal to the government: :-) >> "Build 21000 flexible fabrication facilities across the USA" >> http://pcast.ideascale.com/a/dtd/44897-8319
>> Anyway, that, IMHO, is what is probably going to happen, eventually -- >> widespread government support for the equivalent of TechShops and FabLabs. >> But it may not happen until there are hundreds of examples everywhere that >> people have built up as a labor of love, to address a common "failure of the >> imagination" when confronted with new ideas (or, sometimes, very old ones. >> :-)
> Ted Hall, ShopBot Tools > [And in shameless promotion of upcoming talk: I'll be talking about digital > fabrication at the World Maker Faire, NYC, this Sunday afternoon.]
Thanks for the interesting news: "H.R.6003 -- National Fab Lab Network Act of 2010 (Introduced in House - IH) by Rep. Bill Foster [D-IL14]" http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:h6003: "(3) to seek to establish at least one Fab Lab per every 700,000 individuals in the United States in the first ten years of its operation."
One per 700,000 people in the USA works out to about 430 of them. So, about 3% of what I was hoping for, but you have to start somewhere. :-) Still, I can wonder, if that's all we have ten years from now, well, it might be kind of too late to help a lot with an economic transition... But, it's progress, so maybe everyone would get so excited about those once they saw even a few more public FabLabs in action that support for expansion would snowball...
Anyway, I just sent a note to my representative asking him to cosponsor it.
--Paul Fernhout http://www.pdfernhout.net/ ==== The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of abundance in the hands of those thinking in terms of scarcity.
> Thanks for the interesting news: > "H.R.6003 -- National Fab Lab Network Act of 2010 (Introduced in House - IH) by Rep. Bill Foster [D-IL14]" > http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:h6003: > "(3) to seek to establish at least one Fab Lab per every 700,000 individuals in the United States in the first ten years of its > operation."
> One per 700,000 people in the USA works out to about 430 of them. So, about 3% of what I was hoping for, but you have to start > somewhere. :-) Still, I can wonder, if that's all we have ten years from now, well, it might be kind of too late to help a lot > with an economic transition... But, it's progress, so maybe everyone would get so excited about those once they saw even a few > more public FabLabs in action that support for expansion would snowball...
Growing after it gets some traction is about all we can hope for from the current political situation. A congressman in the district adjacent to mine holds neighborhood meetings to talk one on one with 10-20 constituents at a go. He did one at a grocery store the other day and was drowned out by non-physically-violent protesters saying "just say no" to any kind of spending for healthcare... So, his constituents didn't get to talk with him and he went to his next appt.
> On 09/22/2010 06:41 PM, Paul D. Fernhout wrote: >> Thanks for the interesting news: >> "H.R.6003 -- National Fab Lab Network Act of 2010 (Introduced in House - >> IH) by Rep. Bill Foster [D-IL14]" >> http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:h6003: >> "(3) to seek to establish at least one Fab Lab per every 700,000 >> individuals in the United States in the first ten years of its >> operation."
>> One per 700,000 people in the USA works out to about 430 of them. So, >> about 3% of what I was hoping for, but you have to start >> somewhere. :-) Still, I can wonder, if that's all we have ten years from >> now, well, it might be kind of too late to help a lot >> with an economic transition... But, it's progress, so maybe everyone would >> get so excited about those once they saw even a few >> more public FabLabs in action that support for expansion would snowball...
> Growing after it gets some traction is about all we can hope for from the > current political situation. > A congressman in the district adjacent to mine holds neighborhood meetings > to talk one on one with > 10-20 constituents at a go. He did one at a grocery store the other day and > was drowned out by > non-physically-violent protesters saying "just say no" to any kind of > spending for healthcare... > So, his constituents didn't get to talk with him and he went to his next appt.
Hard to accept, but possible, that the USA is on such a course that it won't recover anytime soon (especially when the party of "No" gets back into power in a few weeks).
Still, the rest of the world is doing exciting things. And there certainly are a lot of grass roots stuff. Like Bryan just linked to the Open Hardware Summit ongoing in NYC right now, and there is the Maker Faire at the same place this weekend. I wish I could go, but beyond it being a several hour drive, this Saturday I plan to be showing off old tools at my local historical society harvest festival -- so, our own little local "Maker Faire" to some extent. :-)
I was involved with the organic agriculture movement in the 1980s (I even gave a talk to the NJ Department of Agriculture about how to run a certification program), and it seemed back then like such an uphill slog (and that was even after years of hard work by others). But a quarter century later, now we have national standards (such as they are) and widespread easy access to organic food in many grocery stores. Some of the spirit of the organic movement got left behind, sadly, like the local aspects, and the know your farmer aspects, but even with that, there are some encouraging trends. And overall, it's great to have so much certified organic food everywhere.
Open manufacturing may well go the same way -- it's small now, and it may seem like an impossible hope for widespread change, but in twenty years or so, open manufacturing may be huge. Especially once 3D printers really proliferate.