The Culture of Digital Making (Week 2 Reflection)

This week’s reading, combined with the guest lecture from John Hornick, really opened my eyes to the ways in which digital making has evolved, not only on a technical level, but also on a broader, cultural level. As one of the articles illustrated, the so called “Maker Mindset” is essentially that of a growth mindset—students must display curiosity and embrace failure, while facing challenge with a positive attitude.  I’d argue that this attitude is necessary to succeed at anything, but it seems to hold especially true in a community where ideas are quite literally coming to life, and where people can interact and share their ideas with so much more ease.

I think rapid globalization only makes the case for this exchange of ideas stronger. Neil Gershenfeld’s article How to Make Almost Anything talks about the first fabrication lab (“fab lab”) which was launched in the South End of Boston in order to promote education and excitement about technology in urban communities. The concept quickly caught on and was soon replicated in other countries, where students who might not have access to a full college education are now getting the opportunity to put their skills and creativity to good use. I did some additional research, and thought this article about a fab lab in Western Africa was quite interesting:

Along with this cultural shift towards collaboration to solve problems, I think digital making is transforming the way in which we view the world. John Hornick explained how many of the things people are making today have a unique appearance, and often look like things created by mother nature. They are lighter, more efficient, and force us to rethink the norms of our physical world. I think it will be interesting to see how the field of design changes as a result, given that everyone will have the capability to be their own designer. Personally, I look forward to learning more about design principles and stretching my mind when it comes to what I can create, because I often feel limited or somewhat narrow-minded when it comes to making things.

When browsing Thingiverse, I came across a few prints that I thought would be quite useful:

1. Page holder reading tool

I thought this idea of a “book ring” was pretty handy—I often have a hard time keeping books open with one hand, so having one of these would allow me to read more comfortably. I would modify it to fit my thumb properly, and I think it would be beneficial to add a grooved portion that hands under the bottom of the book, so that the rest of one’s fingers aren’t under too much pressure.

2. Self-watering planter 

I’ve been on the hunt for a good self-watering pot for a while, since all of the house plants in my apartment sadly died over winter break. This is a basic model, but I would tweak it to make it a little more colorful, and maybe add something with which I can mount it to a wall.

3. Cookie cutter 

I’m an avid baker and I thought these holiday-themed cookie cutters were really cute. I often wish I could customize my own cookie cutters, so if I had the chance, it would be cool to create a cookie cutter that resembled my house—it could also make a great holiday gift for families.

4. Earphone holder

I thought this idea was really creative and definitely useful- my earphones get tangled all of the time, so it would be nice to have a tool to organize them. I wouldn’t make any modifications to this design—I thought it was quite functional as is.