Archive for October, 2012

What I would have said if I did the Cuban Hat Pitch.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

I tried, but other proposals got picked to do a live pitch on November 13th at the documentary market event Doc Circuit Montreal. I did have something prepared in case The Creative Touch got chosen. So rather than feeling sorry for myself, I am going to do my pitch in this blog.

So there I am standing in front of a HUGE crowd (hey it’s my fantasy so I am allowed to exagerate). I am not too nervous as I have my crib notes. The first thing I do is ask who in the crowd does activities that involve complex hand movements such as gardening, home repairs, knitting, pottery making, elaborate cooking. Let say 90% put up their hands. I would then ask those 90% if they think, over a period of a week, that they spend at least four times as many hours in front of a screen as doing activities with their hands. I would guess the answer to be 99%. I would then point out that most of humankind, before the digital age, has spent the majority of the time using their hands as there was no choice if they wanted to survive. I then ask the audience whether this is progess that hands aren’t as essential anymore? Are we not better off having all these very powerful digital tools at our disposals?

Based on these two repesentations I would argue, since hands occupy such a large amount of brain real estate, that complex and active use of hands has a VERY important and positive effect in our lives. While our culture has changed, our bodies have not. We are losing out on a lot when hands’ main purpose is to type on a keyboard. This principle is the basis of what the Working Hands Project is about.

“The documentary proposal I bring you tonight is all about the creative ways we use our hands”. At this point I playback the 3 minute video pitch on The Creative Touch idea. After the screening I field questions from the now spell bound audience. I can also, dear reader, answer your questions. You can add these and your own comments by clicking below.

What a Maker weekend it was!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

I am just coming back from the World Maker Faire New York. I went to do research and that I got to do with over 500 exhibitors and a number of presentations from industy leaders. On my first day the subway had broken down and I found myself with a gang of mostly young people who were heading to the same place. As we walked figuring out whether to take a taxi or not, I got to hear their stories. A lot of them reflected back to when they were children and curiousity got them to tinker with something or take an object apart and figure out how to put it back together. Fortunately nobody discouraged this activity and here they are at a Maker Faire.

I attended a few of the talks and heard some interesting ideas. The educators spoke a lot about the value of having an engaged child in the classroom. Give them access to the resources they need, teach them how to use the tools and they will figure out what to do with them. Motivation seems to be the most important factor for successful learning. A good presentation was given on this subject by AnnMarie Thomas of Maker Education Initiative.

I also heard a lot more about Maker Spaces. What is encouraging is the fact that they are popping up in university settings where there is a great need. Ann Marie Thomas showed us one sobering slide written by Dr. Stephen Belkoff of John Hopkins University referring to an engineering class; “These are all A students and it took two days to build a shelf from Home Depot and get it [backwards].”  How could they become good engineers if they can’t figure out how to assemble a simple object. Dale Dougherty, founder of MAKE and Maker Faire, chatted with founders of five different maker spaces on how their spaces run, why they started, and what happens next. An introduction to the panel members are at What Makes a MakerSpace.

On an even more profound level a few presentations addressed economic and societal issues. One of them had on stage WIRED editor-in-chief Chris Anderson who in a new book writes that technology has “democratized the means of production.” There is a good article about this on the Time magazine website; How the ‘Maker’ Movement Plans to Transform the U.S. Economy. On a somewhat related topic, John Robb gave a presentation called Building Resilient Communities. A resilient community produces the food, energy, water, things, and incomes it needs locally. Neat stuff.

Want to know more? Go check out Maker Faire 2012 Video Highlights.