Author Archive

February 6, 2012

Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making

by Nick Brewer

This is a pretty unique way to take a look at the process of making. That the process of creation, whatever the medium is the ability to empathize with the materials and people who will be interacting with it.

From the author Slim:

It is a book about how making works (as a process), what it means (to make something), and why it matters (to our lives). One of the central theme is the relationship between the act of empathizing with the act of making.

If you feel like donating to his kickstarter campaign, the address is

January 26, 2012

Art Hack Day

by Nick Brewer

This seems like a really fun event for makers and artists alike in the NYC area. They are also promoting participation by putting the hacks online during the event.

Art Hack Day is an event dedicated to cracking open the process of art-making, with special reverence toward open-source technologies. Between January 26 – January 28, artists and collaborators will inhabit 319 Scholes to create and explore the participatory nature of technology, bringing together hackers whose medium is art and artists whose medium is technology. The event will be streamed to online audiences, who will be encouraged to participate through various platforms to be listed soon on the website. Visitors are invited to engage and interact with the projects online throughout the hack, as well as join the teams on Saturday night for a closing exhibition, live performances, and a massive party.

– Hacking begins Thurs Jan 26, 7pm –
– Live-streaming tour of the event Friday Jan 27 3pm –
– Exhibition open to the public Sat Jan 28 7pm –
– Live performances & party open to the public Sat Jan 28 9pm –
– @319 Scholes St, Brooklyn (3 blocks off Montrose stop on the L) –

January 23, 2012

DIY Days

by Nick Brewer

Saturday, March 03, 2012 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

DIY Days is a traveling incubator of creative entrepreneurs. The daylongevent consists of talks, workshops, intimate chats, and networking focusedon new models of funding, storytelling, distribution, and discovery.DIY Days have been held in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York,and Philadelphia. In 2011, it went global, with events in Barcelona, London,Singapore, Seoul, and Hong Kong.

For more information visit

January 23, 2012

WorkBook Project

by Nick Brewer

The WorkBook Project (WBP) is for those who want to be creative in the digital age. The WBP, through its website, R&D projects such as festival From Here to Awesome and roving conference DIY Days, provides insight into the process of funding, creating, distributing and sustaining as a creator of media (film, games, music, design, software).

December 12, 2011

Libraries Make Room For High-Tech ‘Hackerspaces’

by Nick Brewer

Submitted by Laura Alejandra Gonzalez:

Libraries Make Room For High-Tech ‘Hackerspaces’ : NPR

I’d like to make my own addition to this, Phil Torrone wrote a great article for Make about this same topic a few months ago. I’d love to see these types of tools being offered for everybody to use.

I propose we think about what role the public library can or should have. I’m really interested in what everyone thinks, so please post in the comments. I have more questions than answers, but my “gut” says we’re not going to see public libraries as the centers of learning state-to-state that they once were.

If the only public space where 3D printers, laser cutters, and learning electronics happens is in fee/memberships-based spaces (TechShops, hackerspaces), that will leave out a segment of the population, who will never have access. FabLabs often are geared towards under-served communities, so perhaps it will be a combination of FabLabs and hackerspaces.

What if we were to convert just 1% or even 10% of the 9,000 public libraries in the USA to TechShops? I say TechShop because I think they could get it done with the right amount of funding, or at least coordinate the effort. Since 1% of the USA’s public libraries is about 90, that’s close to the TechShop goal in 5 years; 10% would be 900 locations — not a bad goal.

November 21, 2011

For Job Hunters, Digital Merit Badges

by Nick Brewer

A great article on using merit badges to help employers find out more about prospective employees.

The badges will not replace résumés or transcripts, but they may be a convenient supplement, putting the spotlight on skills that do not necessarily show up in traditional documents — highly specialized computer knowledge, say, or skills learned in the military, in online courses or in after-school programs at museums or libraries.

“The badges can give kids credit for the extraordinary things they are learning outside of school,” as well as being a symbol of lifelong learning for adults, said Connie M. Yowell, director of education grant-making at the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago.

November 7, 2011

The Knife Maker

by Nick Brewer

I found this short film about Joel Bukiewicz (and New School alum) fascinating. He had stalled in his career and turned that frustration into a successful business and a passion for a craft.

Made By Hand

October 26, 2011

Open City Dialogue @ Pete’s Candy Store

by Nick Brewer

Open City Dialogue  (OCD) is a bi-monthly lecture series unraveling on alternating Mondays in the backroom of Pete’s.  Short (35-40 minute) lectures are woven together from the common thread of people’s obsessions, with guests coming from all over Greater New York.  Whether academic or crackpot; celebrated or unsung, our lecturers all have something to tell you…
Lectures are on Mondays at 7:30pm

The one coming up that I expect to be packed but looks really interesting is Posterboy on December 12th.

NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND: Re- purposing NYCʼs adscape w/ Posterboy#

Street artist Posterboy covertly reconfigures NYC subway ads into eye-popping collages that poke fun at Big Brother and consumptive celebrity culture. Posterboy will be on hand to discuss his work, process and how making subversive art can land you in Rikers.

October 18, 2011

The Importance of Failing Often

by Nick Brewer

From NYC Resistor’s blog

Catarina helped me build a prototype of a “Nixie” tube illuminated with electroluminescent wire. Unfortunately the wires are too dense and too dim to work well with the ten layers of thickness, so the prototype is a beautiful failure.

I think this is an excellent example of failure in DIY education. I have found over time that I tend to make a lot of mistakes and that is completely ok. Not only am I learning in my attempts to build things, but I usually break something and have to overcome that problem to finish the project. I really like the look of these nixie tubes that Hudson was trying to go for, and he has a really good design, but the overall product just didn’t work… making it “a beautiful failure.”

Anybody else have any lessons they’ve learned through failure?

October 13, 2011

Destructables… an activist’s Instructables

by Nick Brewer is an advertising free Do It Yourself website for projects of protest and creative dissent. The site features user generated step-by-step video and photo/text based instructions for a wide range of dissenting actions, including (but not limited to): art actions, billboard alterations, shop-dropping, protest strategies, knit-bombing, making protest props, interventions, methods of civil disobedience, stencil work, performative actions, and many other forms of public dissent – from the practical and tactical to the creative and illegal. It is a living archive and resource for the art and activist communities.

I love that these guys were looking at the information available elsewhere online (specifically instructables) and decided to create their own for the purpose of culture jamming. They also have several organizations working with them; Center for Artistic ActivismThe Yes Men / The Yes LabCrimethincAndrew Boyd / Beautiful TroubleDi Rosa, and Southern Exposure.

October 12, 2011

Makerbot – Explained!!!

by Nick Brewer

Ok, yes, I know, I know, I harp on how awesome the Makerbot is weekly. But for those who don’t quite understand what the big deal is, I have for you a video produced by Time magazine. They interview Bre Pettis, who does an amazing job at explaining exactly why this fits within the DIY ethos. If you watch this, I promise I’ll cool it on the ra-ra makerbot for a bit.,32068,1211395318001_2096598,00.html

October 11, 2011

Occupy Wall Street – Photos/Interviews

by Nick Brewer

I took a trip down to Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park yesterday afternoon. Much like Tom did at Maker Faire, I recorded several interviews and took some photographs of the environment. I went into it looking for a DIY angle, but it was immediately clear that EVERYTHING down there is DIY. They have created their own society and rules to help keep the movement growing, they have set up a library, talks are given, an art space has been set up, etc. I kept thinking about the theater of the oppressed as I made my way through the very small area these people are holding as their own for the time being.

Below are some interviews I conducted, along with some photos… I’m not trying to make a statement on the actual event itself, but I know for a fact that sometime soon we’ll see a really good anthropological study done on this group. I’ll also be bringing in 2 copies of the “Occupy Wall Street Journal” during class today. Take a look at them (one in english, the other spanish) either before or after the presentation.

Ed Needham was manning the media/communications table and explained to me the basic philosophy behind the movement, their plans for the future, and the way the park has set up their own community.

Lydia Bell & Drey Demira are two people demonstrating at the park. Drey has been staying on and off for about a week and Lydia had a gigantic American flag that was being sewn back together in the park. (My observation that there was something deeply symbolic of having a group of people quite literally sew the American flag back together was not lost on her)

Here is a short piece featuring several people explaining the jobs they have been doing around the demonstration. It seemed like many just picked up a position where one was needed, but not everybody is chipping in.

October 3, 2011

Ignite NYC

by Nick Brewer

5 minutes and 20 slides rotating automatically in front of NYC’s brightest geeks, what would you say? For nearly two years Ignite NYC has cultivated a vibrant community of artists, technologists, thinkers, tinkerers, and personalities to connect, develop new relationships and projects, and answer this challenge. Enlighten us, but make it quick!

Ignite NYC 13 @ Web 2.0 Expo New York
Monday, Oct 10th,2011 – 7:00PM
The Metropolitan Ballroom, Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers
811 7th Avenue 53rd Street, NY

September 30, 2011

On the Make

by Nick Brewer

This morning I found a great (short) article by Phillip Torrone about the growing popularity of the making culture. I think it really drives home the benefits of making things and venues for education.

“Forget the cliché of a lone hobbyist tinkering away in the garage; modern makers are more likely to work with each other, taking advantage of the sharing and publishing tools offered by the internet.”


September 20, 2011

NYC 2.0 – Hackers

by Nick Brewer

Click Link for Video

I would highly encourage watching this video about hackers in NYC. They cover NYC Resistor, Makerbot, etc… The group tries to define what a hacker is along with a ton of other really interesting stuff. These are the types of places I hope the class can see at some point this semester.

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 16, 2011

Hacking Art & Culture With FAT Lab

by Nick Brewer

September 15, 2011

This Weekend – Maker Faire: NYC

by Nick Brewer

As we’ve mentioned a few times in class already, this weekend is Maker Faire. Not only does it play really well into the overall theme of the class, but it is a REALLY REALLY FUN EVENT! It is just a ton of people sharing projects and ideas. You can learn to solder for a dollar (personally I think it is a skill everybody should know), its very easy, and when you’re done you get a neat little blinking badge.

For anybody interested in meeting up as a group and checking out the grounds, I plan on attending Saturday. I’ll be there around 10:30am. Email me at brewn477(at) if you would like to meet up. I’ll try to coordinate everything if there are a bunch of people who would like to join me.

Location – Take the LOCAL 7 train to the 111th St. stop.

New York Hall of Science
47-01 111th Street
Queens, NY 11368-2950
Located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.


Saturday, September 17th – 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, September 18th – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

You can ride in a gigantic fire breathing dragon!!! 

September 8, 2011

Last Chance for Discounted World Maker Faire Tickets

by Nick Brewer

From the Makezine Blog, tix will increase Fri Sept 9th at 3AM:

Is the second annual World Maker Faire really in just nine short days? You betcha! And now is your final opportunity to purchase “early bird” tickets online at a discounted price before they rise to their full face value. Save $5 on a day pass or $10 on a weekend pass if you purchase your tickets today! Ticket prices go full price at midnight PST tonight. Of course, you can also get discounted tickets at over 300 RadioShack locations in the NY metro area, but there’s no guarantee they won’t be sold out, too! So if you want to make sure to get your discount now, and avoid lines onsite, use one of the codes at the top of our Maker Faire New York EventBrite page.

And most importantly, have fun at World Maker Faire in Queens, NYC. We’ll see you there!

September 7, 2011

What Is A Hackerspace?

by Nick Brewer

Mitch Altman is a founder of San Francisco’s Noisebridge. He gives a really good rundown on the philosophy behind its creation and gives some examples of the neat things people are doing there. For those interested, there are a few in NYC (listed in the resources tab). Most have a few events a week and are very welcoming of interested people.

This video was made by Maker Faire TV, and I can’t stress enough how cool Maker Fair NYC is going to be. If anyone is interested in meeting up at the event, please comment and let me know so we can try to work out a time that works well for everyone. I’ll post about it more in depth next week and mention it in class on Tuesday.