Jigsaw Needs You.

Remember that maker space I’m a cofounder of? Well, it’s in a bit of a spot. It’s been a joy to me to have been a part of something (and continue to be a part of it) that doesn’t need me. But now there is a need, though it is not the same sort as organizational structure.

 

Like other hacker/maker spaces around the world, Jigsaw is building a new, non-corporate model based on the strength of collaboration. We’re working together to build a world where anyone willing to share their time and money to learn, teach, or build can do so with a group of like-minded people. Jigsaw’s new space was specifically built  for us in Inscape, Seattle’s largest arts and culture enclave. It’s gorgeous, and its design was what our community decided upon.

And fantastic things are happening at Jigsaw. Our Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights are consistently filled with folks hacking and soldering and learning web development. Creative and curious people are coming to events like Dorkbot, Weird Science Salon, EverFree, and Mysterium.

However, our vibrant community and our vision are now in jeopardy. We are falling further and further behind on rent and other obligations, and our financial situation is simply not sustainable.

We need a “critical mass” of activities and membership to survive and grow. We need more people with keys—not just to pay rent, but also to keep the doors predictably open so that other people will come to the space.

If you share our commitment to creativity and thinking outside the box, if you, too, believe that “do it yourself” doesn’t have to mean “do it alone,” if you have enjoyed the interesting and diverse people and activities Jigsaw brings together, we urge you to consider helping in one of the following ways:

  • Lapsed members — please set up recurring payments through our membership software page.
  • Visitors, guests & other non-members — please join! Go to our membership page to get started.
  • $15/month supporters — please become a keyed member and start a class or other event at Jigsaw.
  • Current $100/month keyed members and $200/month desk members — encourage others to become keyed members or community builders. Also, please sign up to give a class or indicate on the calendar when you’ll be in so other people can share space and creativity with you.


For those with more time than money, we’ve created a new Community Builder membership. You can become a keyed member for only $50 a month in exchange for committing to staff the space for two 3-hour slots each month. More details on the Community Builder plan will be available soon.

People who sign up for a keyed membership get at least one vote (two for a desk membership) towards our next shiny acquisition:
• 3D Printer
• Nice hand and power tools
• Fancy lighting / nicer furniture

We’ll set up voting for this in a week or two, after we’re less stressed about the impending rent.

Again, you can sign up or change your membership level here. If you’re currently a member but haven’t checked out our new membership software (including easy to use recurring payments) please do. As always, if you want to participate but can’t afford it, ping us. We’ll figure something out.

Thank you for being a part of the Jigsaw Renaissance community. We’re counting on you to make it thrive!

If you have any problems at all, please call Willow at 812.219.4056 and she’ll help you through the process.

Willow Brugh
Robin DeBates
Ned Konz
Budi Mulyo
Michael Park
Alan Widmer

Co-opting and Saturation

I read this study recently, about the inequality of online contributions. You should go read it as well, and then come back here. It’s easy to digest, and a quick read. You can even just skim it.

The first step to dealing with participation inequality is to recognize that it will always be with us. It’s existed in every online community and multi-user service that has ever been studied.

I wonder if there are studies on off-line communities, and if they show a similar trend. If you know of any, please post to comments.

Imagine if we could push people up this pyramid. What an incredible world we would live in, were more people to be creators, or at least to actively contribute in some way! Or at the least, we would be less fucked. I sincerely believe many of the problems facing humanity could be addressed if more people took an active role in their lives. Blame my socialist upbringing if you like. It’s why I worked (and continue to work) so hard at Jigsaw – creating an entry-level environment for n00bs to get their hands around a soldering iron before facing what can be rather intimidating robotics and the like. I gave a talk at Berlin-Sides in 2010 about hackerspaces being extroverted, and how it was an absolute necessity. Not for every group, but for at least some. We can’t just serve the people who already know, and request, what they want. We can’t just create a new class of elite. We have to welcome, and actively invite, lurkers to become editors; and editors to become creators. (Or do we? I am sad to question this assumption)

So while this pyramid might hold true for online communities, what about communities which simply do most of their interactions online? Makerspaces have become A Thing. Tech conferences are blowing further and further past their capacities (On what feels beyond an expected progression. I would love actual numbers on this if anyone has them). What is causing this? People wanting to have an active role in their lives? Is consumption finally not enough? Or is it just the new shiny?

Insert plug for the totally rockin’ Brainmeats podcast on Co-Option of Subcultures here. (Download mp3)

Regardless of the reason for the shift, one of the strengths of these movements has been that we all KNOW each other. We’re engaging in things that, while sometimes not inherently dangerous themselves, bring upheaval and unrest. And now that things are gaining traction and the public eye, we’re gaining mass like some sort of burgeoning star. How do we encourage the engagement of more people while not diluting the vision of what we are? As Johannes said at HOPE, “isn’t being elite part of being a hacker”? So how do we balance that necessity and functional form of seclusion with a wider vision of the world? How do we infect memetics without turning into homeopathy? Meaning: how do we actually change larger culture as it gobbles us up, while holding onto our ethos? Becoming diluted will not increase our impact.

This was my third DEFCON. Saw old friends, actually went to a few talks, and got into bed before 3a both nights (no lie!). This year was massive – over 10 thousand people. And we talked a lot, in continuation of HOPE, about what to do when your community gets huge. We’ve been way past Dunbar’s number for awhile now, but still broke into manageable group sizes. But now… there’s a worry, just like at Congress… what is “too big”?

Something I’d like to see: specialized, smaller conferences happening in tandem across a city. See the tracks that interest you, speak to the people who share your background. But at night, visit the people you know well and share what you’ve learned. You likely already work closely with friends who share your interests. Now see what patterns exist across interests.
Another thing I’d like to draw on: there are now more medical journal articles coming out than anyone could ever read, for many individual fields, and still have time to work. So what’s started happening is there will be academics who just read a bunch of those papers and pull out the meta aspects of them. Then practicing folk read those meta articles.

A small group of friends and myself hope to try out these methods next year in July. I’ll post about it soonish.

One of my favorite things is to meet someone who is inspired, brilliant, driven.. and realize that we have no overlap. That we aren’t going to be working together. I love that because there are so many things that need to be worked on, and I am but one person. That someone I can grow to trust, and who I respect, is working on one of those myriad aspects gives me a bit more hope for the world. We can continue to break down silos through communication, sharing, and transparency. We can balance that with diving deep into our specialized areas.

When conversing about all this with a dear friend, this was their response:

Profitable problems will always explode with magic-seekers. Computer hacking is now a profitable problem, and participation is accordingly weird.

There will always be too many interesting problems in the world and never enough people connecting to solve those problems. Valuing hacks over hackers helps, as does creating opportunities to gain social status by teaching others. I’m not worried about losing a unified vision because I don’t think there should be one. As for maintaining a community, decentralized networks of curious and creative people scale well. – Kaleen

HOPE and Awesummit

Spent the last three weeks away from Seattle – about a week on Playa, a week in NYC, a week in Boston. Was constantly surrounded by people I respect immensely and with whom I can’t wait to have continued interactions.

HOPE was incredible. I gave a talk with Diggz on Geeks Without Bounds. I sat on a panel about DARPA funding education and hackerspace programs. No chairs were thrown. It was pretty bitchin’. Saw the Byzantium project, and drank mate, and sipped whiskey with the No Starch Press folk. Went out for beers with an eclectic group of hackers and artists, talked about the future we were building, the holes that still exist, and how we might be less wrong.

I was blown away by the gender ratios (still not close to half, but far better, especially with the speaker line-up), and that the vibe was a bit less awkward and certainly less sexually charged than most of the other events I’ve been to. And the level of respect with which people approached each other in calling out inaccuracies, misrepresentations, and differences of opinion was phenomenal.

Exploried an old power plant with Borgatti. Nearly got caught. Knelt in the dark, breathing quietly, covered in brick dust and mud, and waited for people to pass by. Played Cards Against Humanity with some of my favorite humanitarians. Spent time with my Sunday Boyfriend and met his new cat. Made my way to Boston. Played in the park in bare feet, with a flask of whiskey, in the torrential downpour of heat finally breaking. Sat on a sea wall and ate breakfast, loosing track of time and wading back, coffee in hand and boots over my shoulder.

Went to the #awesummit, saw what opt-in taxes might look like. People who understand they are a part of a larger whole – giving their excess to things which don’t just entertain them, but also enhance the rest of their community.

It was *so cool* to sit in a room with people whose shred ideologies are so meta we often lacked the language and pattern recognition to pin it down. That we couldn’t say all the projects we supported were even the same sort. That the trustees were not all of a similar demographic, background, what have you. Not even our giving patterns were the same. Only one thing was shared – the word “awesome,” and the aspect of sharing, of facing outwards. To have a group of people that varied come together to talk about what we *were*, if anything, and what that *meant*, if we were something or if we weren’t. It was wonderful. There were a few moments of tension, mostly around the idea of trademark. It reminded me a lot of the conversations in hackerspaces. What do we all share, when we are so fiercely grass roots? What does it mean to share a vision but not a praxis? What is the value of making ourselves legible to the rest of society, or is that something we should actively avoid?

And my drawings ended up on the MIT Civic Media blog, which is kind of amazing.

All that was topped off by a dinosaur-themed party with cookie checks and cake. Saw massive ink pipes and the three-story press at the Boston Globe, bifurcated paper and quixotic diagrams. A private tour with a new friend through back doors and stalled robots and stressed editors. Taking the green line back to my dear college friend’s home, walking the last mile slightly buzzed, T-Rex balloon bouncing, happy.

Continued conversations around what comes Next, what are we building, how are we helping each other. I continue to be in constant awe of the amazing folk around me, humbled that they invite me into their community and projects. And to return to Seattle, to smiles and mangos and all of the hackathon planning ever.

Tesla Gun

I sat down one evening at Unit 15 in the old Rainier Brewery Building with Rob Flickenger. His projects have always been amazing – the can-tennashrunken quartersbuilding wireless networks for the UN in Africa, and writing the books (literally) on wireless networks. His most recent project pushes him even further into the mad scientist realm. He’s built a Tesla Gun.
robwithgunNOTE TO READERS: This is a dangerous idea. An operator holds this device as it operates. Tesla coils and other high voltage devices can stop your heart. The operator must be ABSOLUTELY SURE that the case has a solid ground to shunt the electricity to earth, and not through you. And while I’m all about taking informed and calculated risks, this is me informing you. Ok. Read on.

When I asked him why he had started on this project, he cited Steven Sanders and Matt Fraction’s Five Fists of Science, a graphic novel in which Tesla and Twain battle the evil forces of Edison and Marconi. “How much more epically awesome can you get than a young Tesla fighting evil with a TESLA GUN?”

While Rob is undoubtedly brilliant, he had to learn a lot to make this project happen. If you made something like this out of duct tape and plastic, it would kill you. But if he wanted that Tesla Gun, he’d have to make a lot of the parts himself. Luckily for Rob, he lives in Seattle, where we have an outstanding group of hacker/makerspaces and incredible people doing crazy things in them. He went and talked to a lot of people. He learned about aluminum casting, 3D printing, working with ceramic slip, and machining — all things he had never had first-hand experience with. He learned even more about high voltage electronics. The end result is a hand-held (if you are veryvery certain it is grounded) spark-gap Tesla Gun that puts out around 100k volts with sparks leaping a meter to DAGGAR*.

teslagun

How and where it was made:

The casing needed to aluminum to withstand the high voltage and look cool. Rob headed over to Hazard Factory to talk with Rusty. They used the foundry there and green casted a NERF gun mold.

The resulting case was machined down with the Hackerbot mill so it would line up correctly and look pretty. He also machined some HDPE stand offs to house the primary coil, so it would be sturdy and resistant to HV. Then he needed a different switch – “no one in their right mind would manufacture what I needed for the consumer market.”

Off to Metrix Create:Space to 3D powder print a mold. They then poured porcelain slip into it, and fired the resulting piece in the kiln. The custom-made porcelain and tungsten switch can withstand 20kv at several hundred amps.

Most of the work was done at Rob’s resident hackerspace, Unit 15 (private). There, he put together his Hockey Puck of Doom. HPoD is a zero voltage sense flyback driver found on Instructables that lets you turn an 18 volt drill battery into 20k volts (the reason this device is more portable than other coils of the same effect). He hand-wound the 1100 turns of #30 copper wire, and laser etched some of the fiddly bits for a more mad-scientist feeling. And my personal favorite: the transformer is from an old TV, which is the best possible use I can think of for old TVs.

Finally, he did a talk at Ada’s Technical Books and at Jigsaw Renaissance to share the joy. The talk at Ada’s was video’d and can be viewed here.
lighting

“Telsa Coils are at the intersection of science and magic. It’s impossible to describe the visceral experience of the luminous discharge of a secondary terminal, from a machine that creates ion streams using 100 year old technology. They make a room smell like a thunderstorm.”

As a closing story, Rob told me about the most exciting thing he had ever electrified – himself. One evening, three Tesla coils were running in the same room at Hackerbot at the same time. He powered his down and noticed it was self-resonating – throwing sparks from secondary without being powered, presumably from being in-tune with the two others. He thought, the current coming off must be small, and wondered if he could draw it out with his finger. Rob was then surprised to pull a 4 foot spark — one of the the others was striking it from another angle. “It was awesome. But not the kind of awesome I like to promote. You want the controlled kind of high voltage project.”

daggarYou can read a whole lot more about the project over on his blog, Hacker Friendly. He’ll be showing it off at the Seattle Mini Maker Faire.

*DAGGAR is a staple of HV projects in Seattle. There is nothing more epic than catching lightning on this cheesily ornate blade.

images by yours truly and Rob Flickenger.

update on DARPA stance

There is clearly a vacuum that MAKE is filling via DARPA funding – our schools are crap. Military and religion have no place in education for youth outside of history classes.

I fully support people who wish to take a public (or private) stance against these associations.

My conscious, after much introspection and conversations with amazing people, dictates that I remain involved as a connector, to hopefully create an introduction to the ideals of mutual aid, transparency, adaptability, and emergence to these less-political communities. I want to increase the number of people who care about things like this, and to me that means being involved in the process.

I request that we continue this dialog until it is not necessary – I never want any morally questionable thing to go unnoticed.

Perils of funding!

Into the breach of the DARPA/MAKE debate!

Our systems are broken. I don’t feel it’s enough to explore how broken they are, but that we must also actively work on solutions. My way of doing this is through the creation of educational spaces and experiences via School Factory. I support spaces however I can and also organize and facilitate events. After talking with Dale, I do think his heart is in the right place. He wants kids who are being left in the cold right now to have access to a better education so they can be more empowered. He *wants* them to move on to the local independent spaces due to their exposure to this environment in school.
The only acceptable place for military and religion in school is in the study of history and social construction. So how visible is DARPA’s involvement with this program to the students? I asked Dale, and the answer is — not at all. MAKE is running as a buffer between the funding and the military ideals. That’s the only thing that makes me ok with this project, and the only thing. The benefits would not be worth the detriments otherwise. It is not ROTC reincarnated. The comradere that kids felt and associated with military ideals via that program would be instead associated with maker spaces in this one. And, for the standard recruiting that happens at high schools across this country, hopefully the kids will be a bit more equipped for examining systems and their consequences.
edit: stated methods often vary from praxis, in all interactions and within all ideals. Your Mileage may vary.

My question to the various continued points about idealism and being co-opted: what do we propose to do about it instead? How many of us actively reach out to local schools already? There’s a vacuum of need here, and MAKE is currently offering to fill it, using DARPA funding. *Something* will fill this gap. How about it be the grassroots maker movement? The Department of Education certainly doesn’t have much money, and what they do have is arguably being spent in ineffectual/immoral ways (hey, just like our military dollars!).

I would sadly have to hazard that most of us aren’t up to the task. We can rally to change the spending of tax dollars (because that’s been super effective. Most people of my generation and/or subculture don’t give a fig about politics due to the long-standing ineffectual connection between citizen and representative). Or we can become those teachers. Children need more stability in their lives than most of the people in this community are able to give. Workshops and Faires are a great introduction, a way to wet the pallet. But they are not enough, it has to be at least a semester’s worth of effort, preferably several contiguous years. I’d love for people to prove me wrong about this dedication to involvement, to have that sort of dedication in the face of the incredibly frustrating education system. While the one shared trait of all hackers is frustration (to quote a dear friend), we also tend to rage quit broken systems. I bet no more than 20 people in our American community would be willing to take on the role of middle- or high school instructor who aren’t already in that role. I know I’m not planning to become an instructor in a midwestern community for another 15 years. There are huge gaps between being a hobbiest, living a lifestyle, and giving up your lifestyle to ensure others have access to it.
Edit: Why is it important that we work with the existing school system? Because we’re not done building the new one yet, and neglecting an entire generation while we sort that out is far worse than associating with the military.

In short, this is not the solution I would like best. But it’s an acceptable stop gap which will hopefully also drive us to create a better solution. And it makes far more sense for us to work together as a community to create that better solution and to make the best out of this stopgap in the meantime.

More reading:
Mitch’s opposition
Library Cult parts 1 and 2
Dale’s post on MAKE
OpenBuddha post
(and more, curated by Library Cult — thank you)

Disclaimers:
I occasionally write for MAKEzine, but am not under any contractual agreement with them. I participate heavily in Maker Faires. I am one of two employees of School Factory, in my role as director of Geeks Without Bounds. I am anti-military. I am pro-consensual-governance models. I grew up in a socialist/anarchistic, non-pacifist, anti-war home. After examining that upbringing, I stand by it.

Caveats:
Comments will be moderated, as that is the norm for this blog. You can hit up my e-mail if it doesn’t appear within 4 hours. I will have a discussion with you offline if you prefer, and will ensure that points are valid (even if I disagree with them) before posting them. No straw men here, please.

Autocatalytic *Spaces

I originally posted this over on MAKE, but I’m particularly proud of it, so I figured I’d put it up here, too.

Hacker- and makerspaces are a fairly meta concept. While they can be explained via terms like “community workshop,” they are essentially a created place where people can create projects. It’s sort of like a school for teachers. It’s important to understand this, because this entry involves some folk who see the space itself as a project. There are many systems stacked on each other, sometimes seamlessly, sometimes awkwardly. Things like space layout, new member introductions, decision-making processes, monetary obligations. If done well, these systems are joyfully participated in, and disappear except for the standard maintenance and conscious involvement of the membership. In a smooth-running space, you don’t have to think about where to return your ratchet to, you just do. You don’t have to struggle with understanding the board-voting system because you helped create it, and contributing to it helps further your community.

Impressionen vom Stempel-Workshop at Dingfabrik, with permission from Fabienne

There are certainly people in your space who are specialists in maintenance and repair of the space itself. We do have to worry about due dates on bills, and maintaining safe space, and the dirty fridge not providing the material basis for the next incarnation of Cthuhlu. Some people take on the active role of those administrative tasks. And yet, part of being a hacker/maker/citizen is being aware of and responsible for the systems you’re part of. This is a participatory culture we’re creating.
A metaphor, just to be sure we’re in the same cognitive place: this is like when you get so good at riding your motorcycle that you reach a flow – you have only to think about where you’re going, not clutch-shift-clutch. As hackers and makers, we care to know how the carburetor or fuel injector is working, how that interacts with the air intake, what other models of motorcycles are out there. I can keep going about the welded construction, the materials involved, what grease to use, etc, but I think you get the point. Now extrapolate that to your *space. Also think about how nice it is to have reference material to help guide you through – either an online forum, or the oil-smeared choose-your-own-adventure of Haynes.

During my wonderful winter stay in Berlin, some of my lovely hosts discussed the idea of *space creation and maintenance. Skytee and Pylon participated in the first rounds of the Hackerspace Design Patterns. They were co-founders of Köln fablab Dingfabrik. Fabienne, another founder of Dingfabrik, but not an original documentor of the Design Patterns also sat with us. It’s important you know their names because these ideas would not have emerged without that conversation. Their work on the Patterns was sort of like laying the groundwork for that motorcycle maintenance forum.

Back around 2007, there were a fair number of spaces either established or getting started, mostly in Europe. The people participating in them mostly at least knew each other, but didn’t really have a dialog around the creation and maintenance of the spaces themselves. There was, however, conversation around the curation of those ideas and structure. And so, be still my organizing heart, a small group just started on it. They curated the conversations into general topics and flows, what seems to work and what doesn’t. That set was dubbed the Hackerspace Design Patterns. Those, along with a tour of European *spaces around the time of Chaos Communications Camp in 2007 is arguably what spawned the boom of *spaces in America. (Bre posted about the talk at Chaos Communications Congress later that year about the Patterns as it was happening right here on MAKE.)

Infrastructure before projects. Get the place and the people and the infrastructure all set up and folks will come up with the most amazing projects. Get the space, power, servers, connectivity and all that kind of stuff all set up so that projects and community can be supported. You need to have a mailing list, wiki, and an irc channel (or jabber server).

When my hosts, along with others, later founded Dingfabrik, they were glad to apply the Patterns. And better yet, to discover they were still relevant and useful. Part of this is due to continued conversation around and development of those patterns, but it is also due to the intelligent and careful laying of groundwork. I love how the sharing of knowledge is a key component to this movement, manifest even in the propagation of useful infrastructure.

Hearing these folk, who have been involved in the *space community for so long, speak with such passion about the community and their own Dingfabrik (sidebar: ownership as something that is/should be for any participating member of a *space, not just the founders) was inspiring. They spoke of the creation and maintenance of the space itself as a project just as worthwhile as the Taschen nähen workshop or Steampunk Bandwidth Meter coming out of it. They see these *spaces as decreasing the barrier to creativity, a place where you can make a mess, make noise in ways that you can’t in your own home. They are the infrastructure on which creativity and community exists.

The next time you’re visiting your friendly neighborhood *space (bonus points if you get the comic reference), remember to take a moment on the long-term group project of the space’s infrastructure. Remember to grease the chain by running the vacuum cleaner. Give a special thank you to the people who set aside their own physical projects to maintain the infrastructure. See how you can lighten their load.

If even only a small part of this movement is the creation of things, not simply the consumption of them, remember that this also applies to the social.

Vielen Dank an meine Gastgeber @fbz @skytee und @pylonc.

Autocatalytic *Spaces

Hacker- and makerspaces are a fairly meta concept. While they can be explained via terms like “community workshop,” they are essentially a created place where people can create projects. It’s sort of like a school for teachers. It’s important to understand this, because this entry involves some folk who see the space itself as a project. There are many systems stacked on each other, sometimes seamlessly, sometimes awkwardly. Things like space layout, new member introductions, decision-making processes, monetary obligations. If done well, these systems are joyfully participated in, and disappear except for the standard maintenance and conscious involvement of the membership. In a smooth-running space, you don’t have to think about where to return your ratchet to, you just do. You don’t have to struggle with understanding the board-voting system because you helped create it, and contributing to it helps further your community.

Impressionen vom Stempel-Workshop at Dingfabrik, with permission from Fabienne

There are certainly people in your space who are specialists in maintenance and repair of the space itself. We do have to worry about due dates on bills, and maintaining safe space, and the dirty fridge not providing the material basis for the next incarnation of Cthuhlu. Some people take on the active role of those administrative tasks. And yet, part of being a hacker/maker/citizen is being aware of and responsible for the systems you’re part of. This is a participatory culture we’re creating.


A metaphor, just to be sure we’re in the same cognitive place: this is like when you get so good at riding your motorcycle that you reach a flow – you have only to think about where you’re going, not clutch-shift-clutch. As hackers and makers, we care to know how the carburetor or fuel injector is working, how that interacts with the air intake, what other models of motorcycles are out there. I can keep going about the welded construction, the materials involved, what grease to use, etc, but I think you get the point. Now extrapolate that to your *space. Also think about how nice it is to have reference material to help guide you through – either an online forum, or the oil-smeared choose-your-own-adventure of Haynes.

During my wonderful winter stay in Berlin, some of my lovely hosts discussed the idea of *space creation and maintenance. Skytee and Pylon participated in the first rounds of the Hackerspace Design Patterns. They were co-founders of Köln fablab Dingfabrik. Fabienne, another founder of Dingfabrik, but not an original documentor of the Design Patterns also sat with us. It’s important you know their names because these ideas would not have emerged without that conversation. Their work on the Patterns was sort of like laying the groundwork for that motorcycle maintenance forum.

Back around 2007, there were a fair number of spaces either established or getting started, mostly in Europe. The people participating in them mostly at least knew each other, but didn’t really have a dialog around the creation and maintenance of the spaces themselves. There was, however, conversation around the curation of those ideas and structure. And so, be still my organizing heart, a small group just started on it. They curated the conversations into general topics and flows, what seems to work and what doesn’t. That set was dubbed the Hackerspace Design Patterns. Those, along with a tour of European *spaces around the time of Chaos Communications Camp in 2007 is arguably what spawned the boom of *spaces in America. (Bre posted about the talk at Chaos Communications Congress later that year about the Patterns as it was happening right here on MAKE.)

Infrastructure before projects. Get the place and the people and the infrastructure all set up and folks will come up with the most amazing projects. Get the space, power, servers, connectivity and all that kind of stuff all set up so that projects and community can be supported. You need to have a mailing list, wiki, and an irc channel (or jabber server).

When my hosts, along with others, later founded Dingfabrik, they were glad to apply the Patterns. And better yet, to discover they were still relevant and useful. Part of this is due to continued conversation around and development of those patterns, but it is also due to the intelligent and careful laying of groundwork. I love how the sharing of knowledge is a key component to this movement, manifest even in the propagation of useful infrastructure.

Hearing these folk, who have been involved in the *space community for so long, speak with such passion about the community and their own Dingfabrik (sidebar: ownership as something that is/should be for any participating member of a *space, not just the founders) was inspiring. They spoke of the creation and maintenance of the space itself as a project just as worthwhile as the Taschen nähen workshop or Steampunk Bandwidth Meter coming out of it. They see these *spaces as decreasing the barrier to creativity, a place where you can make a mess, make noise in ways that you can’t in your own home. They are the infrastructure on which creativity and community exists.

The next time you’re visiting your friendly neighborhood *space (bonus points if you get the comic reference), remember to take a moment on the long-term group project of the space’s infrastructure. Remember to grease the chain by running the vacuum cleaner. Give a special thank you to the people who set aside their own physical projects to maintain the infrastructure. See how you can lighten their load.

If even only a small part of this movement is the creation of things, not simply the consumption of them, remember that this also applies to the social.

Vielen Dank an meine Gastgeber @fbz @skytee und @pylonc.

Seattle Mini Maker Faire – How To: Interactive Booths

I have the honor of being the SpaceCamp coordinator for Seattle’s Mini Maker Faire. I’m also heading up the speaker roster. If you haven’t already applied, you should!

Last week we sat down to do a workshop on what makes a great booth. And, being good documentarians, the workshop was video’d!


The takeaways are that children are ninjas, interactive design to your booth is key, and that preparation goes a long way towards success. Also that duct tape is your friend, but we already knew that, yes? Yes.

And from this workshop emerged the new slogan of Seattle Mini Maker Faire:

We want you neither bored nor dead. – Kaleen

Jigsaw’s Housewarming Party

Jigsaw has moved around a bit in its life. We started off in a tiny Quonset hut beneath a construction-riddled bridge. Then we were in the Madison space, and then in our temporary Inscape home. But now, gentle readers, the time has finally come! We’re in a space that was specifically built out for us, all organized (or at least it will be by this event) and made up just the way we want. There will always be room for improvement, but we’re pretty happy with the current state of things. Please come help us rejoice in this newness, this stability, and this accomplishment.

On Saturday, February 11th, from 15:00 to 19:00 (or 3p-7p if you prefer) we will open up our doors and welcome in the public to celebrate our new home. Please join us. Invite your friends. Bring your projects to show. Children absolutely welcome.

Want to help? Print out this flyer or make your own and hang it up! Add your art to the comments of this post. Spread the word! Want to speak or have a fancy area to show off your project? Add yourself to the wiki or ping willow@jigsawrenaissance.org.

Cheers, and happy making!