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Quantifying Access to your Mind

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So, I manage a creative technology lab at California College of the Arts. It's essentially an educational hackerspace for art and design students. Pretty awesome, right?

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in mechanical engineering, I was desperately trying to find a job that would allow me to use my technical skills in a creative way. It's a hard job to find and I ended up getting lucky. I love my job but that doesn't mean that it's easy. It's mentally exhausting.

Last week was finals week. If you have ever witnessed a design school towards the end of the semester, you know that it is complete chaos. Students don't sleep. They are always on campus, pushing as hard as they can to finish their projects. Traditional expectations of what it is to be human starts to break down. They need to finish their projects and they will do whatever it takes to finish their project. The last few days, students lose all empathy. Materials disappear in huge quantities. They steal tools and bring it to their studio. I have to deal with students in the lab looking for a tool and I have no idea where it has gone. "I'm sorry, it's the end of the semester. Someone must have taken it." Human-centered design turns into self-centered design.

The semesters end with the entire campus looking like a horde of zombies came through. Part of my role is to help students bring their projects into reality and troubleshoot issues with them. Towards the end of the semester, this feels like all I am doing. The lab is constantly filled with students. I would turn around and there would be four students standing right behind me, looking at me with panicked eyes. It's mentally exhausting. Troubleshooting electronics is difficult and when I'm working with a student, my brain is in overdrive trying to determine what is the culprit. Sometimes it's simple and it only takes a few seconds to figure out. Sometimes it's a bad jumper wire and it can take an hour.

After I closed the lab on the Friday before finals week, I was thinking, "I wonder how often a student asks me a question?". Wait... I can determine this! I'm surrounded by technology development tools!
 
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Raphango5 months ago

Pretty smart! =D

"Technology needs to become meaningful. Technology needs to learn how to respect us."

oh my god, it resonates so well at me, I have often been irritated on the limitations of technology. It's a very powerful experience to discover how important it is with personal power over my own equipment, the feeling of that I can do what I want, that I can change and fix my own problem.

I really hope that peoples will understand it'll never do them well to transfer their own personal power to faceless companies.

(that's one of the reason of why very few of companies chooses to be open source or release technical specifications, they feel that it's not an advance in their own interest to see customers taking controls of their product. Why do they prefer customers who'll be helpless slaves to their own products? ;)

On the other side, most people prefer to not involve themselves with technology, they choose to blindy use and accept what the world gives them. I feel it's linked with self confidence, the confidence of experience, trying and failing at any attempt to create their own way of living their own life.
Thank you for your instructable, it made me think more deeply about the technology issue, the solution may not be in technology, but how self confidence works at peoples and how they uses their own skill. (or be discouraged to NOT use these skills they have)
Wazzupdoc7 months ago
I think the number of "How" questions leads me to think that any teaching moments should focus here. Give them some Forrest Mimms books to read for some basic How-To. Maybe if the "Hows" start to decrease, the "Whys" might start to increase. The dialog can get very interesting then.
"When" of course is by the deadline!
Very thought-provoking project!
etywoniak7 months ago
Wow, so many quotes to hang on my wall... or make an Arduino scroll through with a dot matrix! Beautiful
alganon7 months ago
ElectricSlim ,

I thought that was a very insightful article , we need more teachers/professors like you . I sent it to a friend who is an engineering Prof. in Montreal . He is a "real" p eng. , a farm boy from a small family farm .

Merry Christmas ,
Barry Horne
ElectricSlim (author)  alganon7 months ago
Thank you for the kind words, Barry. I hope you have a merry Christmas as well!
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