Etech 05: Neil Gershenfeld Keynote


Keynote
Originally uploaded by mathowie.

Rough notes, will tidy up and URLise asap.

neil gershenfeld
—————-

argues for a digital revolution in fabrication

started a class at MIT: how to make (almost) anything

“I’ll do anthing to take this class”

Kelly Dobson – sculptor – made “ScreamBody”

web browser for parrots

defensive dresses

alarm clock you have to wrestle to prove you’re awake

pyramid scheme – as soon as students learnt to do something they would teach other, p2p, using blogs.

technical expression of liberal arts

fab labs

ghana, rural india, sami in n.norway

not so much just a digital divide there’s an instrumantation and fabrication divide

viral deployment of connectivity on the india/pakistan border

personal fabrication to reporduce the technology locally matched to local needs

breaks the rules of most funding organisations

need micro VC for this. sums of 10k not 10m to support fab labs

panel discussion
—————

Bran Ferren (applied minds), Saul Griffith (Squidlabs), Dale Dougherty

“herb simon did great damage to engineering by trying to make design a science”

“a parrot webbrowser is for a market of one…”

bran ferren is a model maker – mocking up full side… hard models are better than cad models. hands on is better. you are a 3d creature – need physical interaction to understand the model.

saul gives the example of the kit design programme he showed “now you have inkjet printers making kites”

NG: the fabrication is content-driven… not about mastery of the skill.
open source hardware is about the content.

Bran: taste and aesthetics are critical parts of this. software is art too… it’s hard to do art as a team. 1 great coder is better than 5k ok coders. what computers did to graphic design, will personal fab do that?

BF: how do you do the technology transfer to bigger organisations. culture, understanding… selling… how did someone sell the pantheon?

the critical point of prototyping is to make the idea real to your patrons.

NG: do we need patrons? if it’s a million dollars – yes, if it’s 10k maybe not. the fab labs show that the barrier is lowering. right now you could build an MIT thesis with the tools in the community centres they have enabled.

DD: if we put the tools here, how much could we learn in 1 day fabbing bootcamp

NG: just-in-time education over just-in-case education

SG: spend some time making different things: bottle rockets, kites etc.: then ask kids what they want to fab. boys want to build flying skateboard – girls want to a build a machine that can share their dreams with each other. Then have to say – ‘how do you build a dream reading machine’ – as soon as you talk a little about cognitive science etc they realise there is a step that they can take to the dream thing they want to build and they connect it together…

question: is there a business model for setting up small fab labs for makers to play in for a small fee?

SG: you pay a subscription, like to a gym, but to a shared fab lab…

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