Sunday, January 31, 2021

digital smashes the banana

Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum on the origins of Makey Makey

I downloaded Jay Silver’s PhD thesis, Lens x Block, a while back and took some notes. When I came to the bit about “world as construction kit”, I thought, at last, a modern rationale for the Maker Movement. This feeling has persisted, that Jay explains it deeply, whilst others who are great practitioners haven’t found the right words. They use more mundane rationales, such as “we are all makers”.

I won’t try to summarise all my notes to Jay’s PhD here but was reminded of them when I read the Forward to the book by Colleen and Aaron Graves about the Makey Makey.

It took me a while to buy my own Makey Makey because initially I thought it could be just a gimmick without much real depth. But once you realise that the concept is for the digital to smash the banana then that all changes.

I’ll just extract a few words, from the above mentioned Forward, from Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, the inventors of Makey Makey below to illustrate.

We were super obsessed with the everyday world, skin to skin contact, and touching things in nature ...

Scratch has this powerful flexibility and open endedness. We also wanted that kind of flexibility for physical stuff and how to hook things up in a super flexible way ...

Computation is the greatest practical power but it is tied up in coding. And coding has barriers to access no matter how simple you make it ...

We thought a lot about making things tinkerable. One way to do that is to make them really immediate, so you could try something and see its effects right away…. So the idea of the keyboard hack and making a device that thinks it’s a keyboard partly came from that...

In Lifelong Kindergarten (LLK) we’re obsessed with creating the building blocks and fingerpaints for people of all ages...
The reason we were in LLK was because we want to live in a world created by everybody. That can only be possible if you create tools that help people create the world and those tools are very easy to use.

I think this video presents the best rationale for the modern maker movement that I’ve seen Hack a banana, make a keyboard (NY 2013)

"what kind of tools can we give adults who know too much ..."
“Let us smash computers with everyday objects…”
“the world as construction kit”


Graves, Colleen and Aaron. 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius (2017), Foreward.

Lens x Block: World as Construction Kit (Jay Silver’s PhD Thesis)

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