On Saturday I had the pleasure of attending MiniSoOnCon, a southern Ontario Hackerspaces/Makers mini-conference, at ThinkHaus, Hamilton, which included presenters from the spaces hacklab.to, KwartzLab, and Diyode . I have been interested in Maker culture and hackerspaces for a while, and I saw this as the perfect opportunity to jump in at the deep end.
A hackerspace is a physical location where like-minded people get together in a cooperative environment to pool their knowledge, experience, and physical resources with a goal to bringing into reality the projects about which they’ve been dreaming. The sky is the limit, almost literally: projects range from building hardware to building art, from restoring antique equipment to putting electronic blinking eyes in a crocheted doll. Put simply, members get together at the space to make stuff, to work on personal projects or bigger collaborative ones. (quote from KwartzLab)
I attended the following sessions
- Richard Degelder: Introduction to OpenStreetMap. A succinct introduction to OpenStreetMap, why we should use it, how to do it and the necessity of adding all the Tim Horton’s locations!
- Steve Singer: Importing GeoBase data into OpenStreetMap. A very detailed explanation of how to import Canadian government data into OpenStreetMap.
- Trevyn Watson and James Arlen: Badge Hacking. A little history of hacker con badges and an explanation of how we could hack our own, very cool, MiniSoOnCon badge.
- Natalie Silvanovich: ZigBee: Fact and Fiction. ZigBee is a low-cost, wireless, networking standard and this was a brief and entertaining overview of the technology.
- Zach Lanier: Disclosure Samsara. Very interesting discussion of vulnerability disclosure and the need for a facility for encouraging responsibility.
- Jedediah Smith: Laser Quest. The story of hacklab.to’s acquisition of a Universal Laser Systems ULS-25P laser engraver and how they brought it back to life, including a demonstration of its hidden musical abilities.
- Adina Bogert-O’Brien and Trevyn Watson: Intro to Kite Aerial Photography. Explained what kinds of kites can be used, how to build a kite, and how to get your camera to take pictures automatically. I also learned what a picavet suspension is. Shots from their first flight are available online.
- Darin White: Overcoming Internet-Induced Inertia to Making. Darin from KwartzLab gave a presentation that encouraged us not to be intimidated, to learn from our failures, and go and make something. Included hilarious examples of his own failed and almost failed projects. My favorite presentation from the conference.
- Leigh Honeywell: Holy Crap We Built (Most of) A Makerbot Today. Hacklab.to received their Makerbot, 3D printer the weekend of the conference and put it together (almost!) over the day . It was great to watch the process unfold and the printer slowly take shape, and Leigh gave an enlightening, impromptu presentation on the technology.
Journalism students from Ryerson and UWO where covering the event as part of a project on Maker culture, and you can see video from the day on their site.
So what does this have to do with libraries? I believe public libraries and maker culture are a perfect match, and I take the opportunity to spread the word when I can. The ideas that fuel hackerspaces, such as cooperation, resource and information sharing, self-directed education, and a diversity of views are concepts that are central to our profession’s ethos. And in these economically difficult times, a movement that offers an alternative to consumer culture and a return to DIY independence is timely indeed.
I would strongly suggest that librarians contact their local hackerspace or makerspace. You’ll find we have a lot in common. In the near future I hope to see public libraries with 3D printers, laser engravers, tool lending libraries, and classes like the ones at MiniSoOnCon.
So, why are you still reading this? Get out there and make something.