Fair Maker Faire

Maker Faire 2012:

ImageThis was my first Maker Faire, I don’t think it will be my last.

One project I really liked was the USB Typewriter. There was a conversion kit, which used an Arduino which you could buy separately. First, I think typewriters are beautiful, the typewriter you see in the photo to the right is an Underwood typewriter. Underwoods were the first widely available and successful machines, sort of the IBM of typewriters. The materiality of the production of text involved in using a typewriter reminds me of how valuable words are, and while I have always wanted to use  one, they are generally messy, require replacement of ribbons and mechanical maintenance, and correcting text is not an easy process. Nevertheless, there is something really satisfying about that clicking and whirring that lets you know that you are doing something. Even in the latest incarnation of the iPhone that click is still there, though digitally reproduced. What is excellent about this project is the willingness to adapt newer technology to the technologies of the past, revealing that continuum of progress that is sometimes forgotten but nevertheless an integral part of innovation.

ImageThis project by Taezoo Park a Brooklyn based interactive media artist takes technological garbage and reanimates it, producing a Digital Being. By reanimating it in such a way that the parts move in unusual or unexpected ways, that is ways that the original function of the parts utilized were not intended to move or blink, Park attempts to locate the “ghosts” in the machine. I think one of the reasons I find this project interesting has something to do again with the desire to remind us of the materiality of these devices that despite the suffusion of the digital that there is an ever present electro-mechanical actuality that wants to make itself known to us, the digital is the material and vice-versa in this case.

ImageThough were dozens of great project ideas, the last project I will talk mention is the Bitponics project. The two developers have created a digital personal gardening assistant. It is pretty clear at least to me that our current food distribution processes will not be sustainable in the long term (maybe even the short term) and we will have to creatively investigate how to feed our growing populations. Rather than relying exclusively on traditional growing methods I like the idea of the digital-biological interface represented by the Bitponics project. Some of things I really liked about this project include the various forms of environmental sensing the device could perform, including: temperature and brightness, moisture data, pH balance and nutrient level analysis. Environmental sensor measuring is definitely an interest of mine, as previously mentioned, and the data visualization interface is super clear and the layout is excellent. Also, the device is capable of logging the data onto an online account, and has onboard outlets, to power on a timer and configured online, to manage lights and water systems. It can also warn you and offer suggestions when conditions are diverging too far from your growing plan. Through the online presence one can share photos, and the social networking capacities to compare notes may be essential in learning how we could maximize our food production capacities.