Lab day 2: Making Things Move, Dale Dougherty & fabulous Imke

It’s Day 2 at the Lab and the second day of Jose Gomez-Marquez ‘Empowerment Technologies’ public programs. Today was all about ‘Making Things Move’; adding movement to everyday objects. Despite the heavy rain and the occasional thunderstorm we’ve made household cleaning devices with remote controlled cars and made bicycle coffee bean grinders. Plus loads more!. Some of my favourite photos from today are posted below.

This evening ‘Maker Extraordinaire’ Dale Dougherty, co-founder of O’Reilly Media and founder and publisher of MAKE magazine shared his experience leading and following the ‘Maker Movement’.

Dale’s talk “Empowerment and social change’ kicked off with a comparison between running a marathon and making:

  • Whilst there are professional and elite runners in each marathon it’s actually the mass number of amateur participants that drive success
  • You don’t just show up at a marathon, you have to prepare and train in advance. Training and learning with other people is the social aspect of any change.
  • Recognition and reputation are derived from participation. Dale said, that whilst he had never run a marathon (sensible man!), that these were the recipe for a great performance on the day!

Dale thinks, rightly so in my opinion, that as citizens of cities we all need to “Scratch our own itch” that is, to figure out and solve our own problems. Like I’ve been saying in many of my posts, here and on ThisBigCity over the last few months, we need to invite and inspire people of all different ages, demographics and cultures to be involved in making our cities.

So who are Makers?

Makers are people who sew, who cook, who garden and who build. Basically anyone who makes rather than consumes is a maker. From people who build robotic giraffes to people who make bicycle powered fair-ground rides through to people who make PVC go-karts to people who make coca-cola fireworks. Everyone and anyone can be a maker! Our towns and cities are full of ‘maker spaces’ and ‘hacker spaces’; small places where people share tools, resources and skills. It seems to me that there is far more ‘making’ going on in all of our communities, our neighbourhoods and our cities than we see on a day–to-day basis.

So what can we learn from Makers?

According to Dale, ‘makers’ have an interest in interdisciplinary projects; they have a desire to visualise and understand our physical world; they have a mindset of playfulness; they share in open-source communities; and they sense the world can be improved, problems can be solved and things can change. Above all makers ‘play’. They play with technology, with resources and with things they already own. ‘Play’ allows us all to learn and to experiment. According to Dale all too often we have too much sense of purpose. Play provides an opportunity for all of us to learn and to experiment with our cities. Dale’s dream for cities of the future is maker spaces established in high schools and for young people to have their dream projects realised.

Dale left us with this very poignant quote from Steve Jobs…

“Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact and that is everything around you that you call life was made up by people who were no smarter than you. And you can change it. You can influence it. You can build you own things that other people can use”.

All I can say is “What an amazing second day at the Lab!”

We have amazing discussions, debates, workshops, events and talks planned for everyday (Wednesday to Sunday) from now until 29 July 2012. Stay tuned because it’s going to be an incredible journey here in Berlin!

Today’s ‘FAB IN THE LAB’ is Imke Sommerkamp. She’s our Operations Manager at the Lab. Imke normally works in the movie industry and has been the production co-ordinator for many blockbuster movies including Mission Impossible, but for the next 6 weeks she’s making sure that everything happens when it’s suppose to happen; operations, programs, events, technology and communications. Imke only types on her computer keyboard with one hand but is the most calmest and most super organised person that I have ever met and thats why she’s “Fab in the Lab’ today.