Archive for September 18th, 2011

September 18, 2011

Maker Faire NYC 2011

by Nick Brewer

Maker Faire NYC 2011, a set on Flickr.

Tom has posted some great audio from Maker Faire, and here are some pictures I took on Saturday.

September 18, 2011

Who Wants to Say Something Through Theater? The Wresting Cholitas in the Bolivian Andean Highlands

by Ariana Stolarz

“…people tried speak with their bodies” (Boal p.131)

 “The poetics of the oppressed is essentially the poetics of liberation” (Boal p.155)

The twenty first century has brought a variety of changes to Bolivian society. It is fair to suggest, that among the most noticeable of all these changes is the re-emergence of the once relegated native and autochthonous values, and the new role that indigenous women play in this transformed scenario. In a culture where machismo tints social dynamics at all levels, it is inconceivable for women to participate in a sólo de hombres activity (for men only). And it is even more difficult to accept, when these women have indigenous origins and the activity involves the use of physical power.

The Bolivian cholitas are the first indigenous women to fight professionally in the male-dominated world of lucha libre. Despite their increasing popularity on the global stage, locally, the wrestling cholitas are rejected by the Bolivian male-wrestling show business, and they are even forbidden from wrestling in the national circuit. Bolivian cholitas professionally wrestle to promote their culture and to fight for their rights, because “we cholitas have been highly humiliated and discriminated in the past” (Carmen de Rosa, qtd. in Schipani, Andres. “Women Wrestling Sweeps Bolivia.” 31 May 2008. BBC.).

The documentary Wrestling with Manhood: Boys, Bulling & Battering establishes the connection between professional wrestlers from the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the construction of contemporary masculinity. Chapter 3 (“Making Men”) draws the ideal of manhood proposed by the league, which associates masculinity with violence and dominance of others. Chapter 5 (“Divas: Sex & Male Fantasy”) elaborates on the control over women, and shows how their humiliation is associated with the heterosexual fantasy that intends to leave no room for uncertainty to the straightness of the male wrestlers. Finally, Chapter 6 (“Normalizing Gender Violence”) shows how the WWE league normalizes and justifies men’s violence against women in the real world.

As shown in the 2009 documentary film Mamachas del Ring, cholita wrestlers are on their own: they manage their own business and contracts, they organize and promote their own shows, and they even create their own costumes.  These women are fighters in the ring and in life. Most cholitas are street vendors. They have many kids in their household (ten seems to be an average number), and a husband who questions their role in the family. Today’s wrestling cholitas are struggling to manage and balance their lives as artisans, mothers, and wives, with their passion: wrestling.

September 18, 2011

Audio Interviews from Maker Faire Saturday

by Tom Tenney

Wow, this was SUCH a good time and, like Heather, I felt like I could have spent days there and still not see everything.  I wanted to get audio interviews with some of the makers themselves and see if any of the things they had to see were reflective of some of the readings and discussions we’ve had in class so far.  However, I didn’t want to “lead” them by being too specific with my questions, instead my strategy was to just have them talk about “what they do, and why they do it” and see what sorts of things they talked about organically.  I did six interviews, and I feel like each one of them had something interesting and important to say about DIY.

Makerbot Raceway

Makerbot Racecars

When we first got there, I spotted my friend Zero Boy announcing the MakerBot Industries car races in which kids were racing cars made from the “Thing-o-Matic” – Makerbot’s 3-D printer.  This was an easy way for me to jump in and get started so I spoke with him between races. Here’s the first interview [NOTE: Please forgive the terrible quality of some of these.  I didn’t bust out my handheld mic until the 4th interview so some of them, particularly the second and third, are very noisy.]

Although he’s not the “maker” of the cars, one of the points he made that I thought was interesting is that the learning that happens isn’t just on the part of the kids, Makerbot Industries also learns a lot from these races about what works and what doesn’t so they can tweak their product accordingly.

Bottlecap Contact Mics

Bottlecap Contact Mic

Next, I spoke to the guys at CMKT4 – a band that plays with circuit-bent instruments and also creates contact mics out of bottle caps and piezo transducers.  They were demonstrating their mics by attaching one to a slinky, which make a very cool sound, and which you can hear at the beginning of the interview. I ended up buying one of their mics for $20, even though I could have easily made one for about $3 in parts from Radio Shack (needed: piezo transducer, short length of audio cable, 1/4″ jack, wax, bottlecap).  Afterwards, I mentioned to Nick that, although I could have made this myself – what I was really paying for was 1) style – they made theirs LOOK really cool and b) support – it was satisfying for me to be able to support other makers.



After the mic guys, I swung back around to the Makerbot area again, and this time spoke with one of the guys who makes the Thing-o-Matic, the 3D printer that made the cars in the aforementioned race.  What struck me as particularly salient in this conversation was how, at the end of the interview, he stresses how important community and sharing are to the success of the product.  The files that people create, which are basically the ‘blueprints’ for the ‘things’ that get printed, are all shared openly online and this is how new things are developed.  One person may take another’s design and modify it, build upon it, to create something totally new, and then sharing it with everyone else.  They are basically embracing the open software model and using it to build actual “things” in the real (i.e. not software) world.

Hacker Spaces

From there I headed over and spoke with the Hackerspace people, who also placed a huge emphasis on community.  In particular, they are attacking the problem of how does one organize a global movement and create a larger community out of a multitude of smaller ones.  As you’ll hear in the interview, hacker spaces are built on the ideal of pooling resources in order create benefits to a community that a single person wouldn’t have on her/his own.  What they found was that so many of these communities emerged, that now they need to further organize, to create a ‘federation’ so that different communities can benefit from the work of other communities that aren’t necessarily geographically proximate.

Eric, the T-shirt Maker Guy

Next I wandered into the craft area, which was significantly quieter than the robot and hacker areas, and spoke with Eric Swanson a very laid back fellow from Brooklyn who makes a living making and selling T-shirts with his wife.  When I asked him about how he sees the connection between robots and crafts, he talked about how it’s really all about being “inquisitive” and how if you want to understand how things work you kind of have to jump in and figure it out yourself, whether it’s making robots or soap. This was the interview that I felt spoke most directly to the conversations about learning we’ve been having in class:

Ham Radio

For my last interview, I spoke with the guy manning the amateur (i.e. ‘ham’) radio tent.  Ham radio is something that’s always been of particular interest for me.  When I was a kid in the 70’s I (like a lot of other kids) had a CB radio which held endless fascination for me, and I’m pretty sure fed my interest in Internet and digital communications in the early 90’s.   Ham radio, however, always held a certain mystique – it seemed more exclusive, you had to have a license, and it had the air of a private club that not just anyone could participate in.   Now, after speaking with Mike at Maker Faire, these feelings are pretty much dispelled.  He was warm and welcoming, and like many of the others I spoke with, stressed the importance of an open community.  One of the other guys at the tent even told me (off-mic) how I could get my license without studying.  Another thing that really struck me as really unique about this interview was how much pride they seemed to take in serving the community as a public service.   There was a sense of pride in doing a civic duty that I didn’t necessarily get from the other interviewees.  Anyway, here’s the interview.  I think his enthusiasm, pride and welcoming attitude pretty much speak for themselves…

September 18, 2011

Participatory Learning with xBees

by hstrykdiy

I could probably write ten posts based upon my experiences at Maker Faire. I only went Saturday, but I quickly realized how there is just TOO MUCH to see in one day. For this post I will focus on Robert Faludi’s talk on “Fun with Xbees.” His lecture showed some of the amazing projects that were made possible using Xbees (a component which can wirelessly communicate with an Arduino board). One project that I found applicable to our class (and also relates to our visitor last week) was Indiana University’s “BeeSim”. BeeSim uses LilyPad Arduinos and Xbee radios as well as open-source software to teach children about bee behavior. This video is a great introduction:

One point made in the video that was interesting was that children settled down and started to discuss/analyze bee behavior once they started to play the game within the constraints of set rules. The bee glove is programmed so that the children have to let the bee “rest” between rounds of delivering pollen – this time is spent by the children talking with each other about what they just did – and perhaps how to do the tasks faster during the next round. This reminded me of Vgotsky’s ‘Play and its role in the Mental Development of the Child’. “Action in the imaginative sphere, in an imaginary situation, the creation of voluntary intentions and the formation of real-life plans and volitional motives – all appear in play and make it the highest level of preschool development.” After playing BeeSim, the children gain a very developed understanding of why and how bees produce honey, and gain the ability to describe the process with the proper terminology (stamen, pollen, proboscis, ect.)

Because the tools to create the BeeSim project are relatively inexpensive, and all the software is available for download (the instructions are posted on Instructables – schools/organizations only need access (in theory) to someone who knows a bit about programming, hardware components and electronics (all things that can be learned via an introductory book on electronics) to have a BeeSim game of their own.