I think humans have an innate need to do things with their hands. Make things, break things, touch things; to learn by doing; to understand, kinetically. I also think a large portion of our ego is taken with the knowledge that we can do things for ourselves.
I’ve never had a job where I was able to physically make anything. I spend my days sitting down, tap tap tapping away on a computer. The digital emphasis seems to be on invisible hardware – you can tap on it, swipe it, download it, and ask it to do things. You don’t know why or how, but you’re happy as long as it comes from a multi-national brand that monopolises what you do and the things that you own. Do you ever feel that you want to just… you know… not do that for a while? I do.
All this just made me want to get away from the technology that I was being fed, and start making my own; start understanding why things do what they do; and start being able to say to people, “oh that? Yeah I made that”.
I imagine that becoming interested in technology happens differently for everyone. For me it began just two months ago when a good-looking boy strapped an EEG machine to my forehead and showed me how he used an entirely open-source (free) program to essentially read my mind. I then found myself watching a TED talk given by a woman artist, Robyn Farah. On stage, she opened an umbrella and the sound of rain poured out of it. She lifted it above her head and the umbrella mimicked the noise of standing in the rain. She was doing this with an Arduino and an accelerometer (among other things; you can see the video here >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GciftUFN-JM).
Now, Robyn didn’t know the first thing about technology, but luckily for her, she worked down the hall from an engineering department, and these colleagues helped her to learn what she needed to do. If only we could all work down the hall from a bunch of helpful electronics technicians…
Well the thing is, if you live on the Gold Coast, you do.
At first I imagined TechSpace to be a bit impenetrable, but I soon learnt that all you really needed to do was turn up and have a look around (on a Tuesday night, that is). My first impressions could have been summed up in these five thoughts: welcoming, 3D printers, coffee, robots, excitement at somewhere to be actively involved.
But TechSpace is only partly about the people – it is also about the space. A space to set up your own little corner of tech-land, away from home or work, where you can create your own tech projects. You can be a part of a group if required, but there is just as much emphasis on the individual member – just you and your tools.
Let me reiterate – unlike many people who go to TechSpace, I know nothing about electronics. So far I’ve only been to two TechSpace nights, and already I have a couple of my own ideas on paper, and an Arduino task to complete. I’m already scouring ebay for the sensors that I want, and noticing all the cool and useful things I could be making for around the house, or as gifts to others.
TechSpace is always looking for new members – the kind that will hopefully stick around to watch the TechSpace family grow. If this sounds like you, there’s no harm in following your kinetic calling.
– Alinta Krauth