Talking about my Summer
I have to admit that I was skeptical before starting my Residency at Instructables. I never felt comfortable calling myself a "Maker" and here I was, walking into the belly of the beast at Pier 9. I felt like the term "Maker" was starting to read as cold, technical, robotic and...frankly...stuff really geared towards young boys. I felt as though I was coming into the program as a spy, an outsider looking to infiltrate and be critical of the hype around 3D printing. My project was really my attempt to talk openly about how I felt about these things in a way that people who design and use these machines might take notice. I was expecting to walk into an office full of dudes that wanted to make crazy things just because they could but I was created by quite another experience. The other AiRs were all interesting, questioning, infiltrating. The entire company was full of creative, open-minded, artsty folk and I can't tell you how good it felt to be in the electronics lab one day with all these different amazing and creative women coming in and out. I end my residency (the full-time part anyway) with a different attitude and the realization that people are pretty open-minded, excited and down-right nice! I never imagined people would go to the lengths they did just to help see the project along and it felt great to help and encourage others to see their ideas though. I think I leave the summer with a few new friends. On my presentation day, I felt like I wanted people to sign my year-book - it's that kind of place.
My favorite thing about the residency was also made the residency difficult. The space and people are so interesting and engaging that conversations start all the time. It's so great, but also makes it really hard to get work done! There is so much going on that its hard to stay on top of what people are working on - especially with the residents that aren't around everyday. It would be interesting to find ways to facilitate feedback and collaboration in different ways. We do an exercise in a class I help with at Berkeley where people put their projects on the wall and the other students add post-its with feedback. Maybe if we had a wall like that in the Air-ea it could be a way to keep tabs of all the work and also give short snippets of feedback without interrupting someone's flow. It wouldn't be a way to replace other ways of sharing what we're working on, but a sounding board for just quick, "have you seen X" kind of ideas.
I can't say thank you enough. I had a great, productive summer and I'm excited to be sticking around for a bit longer and seeing the new AiRs that come in and out. I would (and have) recommend the program to anyone - it was a really wonderful experience!