Featured Author: Lamedust

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Longtime fans of the site might recognize lamedust, aka Bilal Ghalib, as the man who crowdsourced a haircut on a San Francisco sidewalk. Or the intern who laser-etched his fingernails. Since leaving his internship for bigger and better things, most folks know him as the hackerspace guy. Bilal's love of making things and enthusiasm for the people who share that love has taken him all over the the country leaving behind a trail of microcontrollers, LEDs, mild burns, and smiles in hackerspaces across the United States. With some luck and a few more Kickstarter contributions he'll be bringing his hackerspace-hatching skills to Egypt.

Tell us a little about your time as an Instructables intern.

In 2007 I was ready for something new and when I got into Eric's car at SFO and Kraftwerk started playing I knew that I wasn't working for any old company, this was feeling different already. I had just built the $50 laser cutter attempting to win the Epilog, but got the team's attention instead. When I got to SF I found a new family. Noah, Eric, Christy, Ed, Billy, Josh, Brad, Josh (Muffin), Cloude, Rachel, Eric from Instructables, and the rest of the extended Squid family (Mitch, Luigi, Mike...) really inspired me. They were all such lovely wonderful people, and capable too. Which has stuck with me till today. Surround yourself with beautiful people who inspire you and great stuff happens.

It was the interns with whom I really bonded. We had a bunk bed at 489 where we slept. Our days were focused on instructables. Coming up with new projects, building new things, and sometimes setting accidental fires of which no one speaks. We lived together, played together, and guarded the door while we took turns showering in utility sinks.

The attitude at instructables was not corporate and stifling, it was a new expanded way of looking at providing value to the world by doing something you love.

What is the Two Hands Project?

The Two Hands Project was an attempt to hack a documentary from a special offer given my Jet Blue. Opportunity is always knocking if you keep your twitter feed up ;). The offer was a month of unlimited travel in the United States. I had just graduated and left the MIT community (I was living there, not going to school. I hacked my schooling too). Leaving MIT meant I no longer had access to MITERS and the community of makers all around me. I was going to miss it. I decided that I wanted to start a hackerspace in Ann Arbor. So after a few months of show and tell at coffee shops and finding a beautiful core team to work with (Josh Williams, Amanda Perez, Xander Honkala, and more) I thought what better a way to learn about how hackerspaces work and help spread them around the states if I do this tour.

It was an incredible ride and there's a trailer out on Jason Scott's Vimeo if you're interested in seeing some of the footage. And even more can be found here: http://www.archive.org/details/twohandsproject

What remains from this tour is a strong bond with all the hackerspaces I visited, some great footage being edited by the wonderful Jason Scott, and I might venture to say All Hands Active Ann Arbor's hackerspace.

Why are hackerspaces important?

Hackerspaces are important for many reasons each of which will be unique to the community and the people at the hackerspace. I've been to over 50 hackerspaces talking with the founders and members in detail, and surprisingly I think I found a commonality. They love to teach. They are accidental educators! I call them PBLE's Passion Based Learning Environments. There are people there who are sharing what they love to do and people trying to learn to do something new that excites them. People want to build quad copters, PCR machines, send cameras to space.

Also, once people start discovering what really motivates them and moves them there's the possibility that they may take that and have it sustain them financially as well. It happens more often than people think. At my hackerspace there are many examples of of companies that either run out of there (backyardbrains.com), hire out of there (modati.com), people who co-work down there, or prototype new projects. What's awesome about this is that it helps the space and it's community sustain itself and provides the means for people to lead happy, productive and meaningful lives.

You have 3 days left to raise $1000 in funding for a Kickstarter project. What's the project about and how can people help? [Editor's note: Success! They met their goal.]

It started out with me sitting in the Eisenhower Building at the White House staring at the decorated ceiling thinking about what I had to share with this group of Arab American business people. Each of them was either running successful multinational companies or involved in politics. The thrust of the meeting could have been boiled down to "Let's support the Arab Spring by offering loans to Arab-American businessmen." Realizing that the revolution was a grassroots DIY effort, I thought that hackerspaces in Cairo could potentially be an awesome thing for the people of Egypt.

It all really came together when once I heard about Maker Faire Africa coming to Egypt in 2011. I believed if I gave those already interested in DIY and making an opportunity to experience a maker space, and connected the people who are attempting to start spaces currently, it would help initiate a new wave of MENA hackerspaces.

The best way to support this project right now is by donating to the Kickstarter project. I love Kickstarter because it really lets us communicate with our sponsors. It's really cool to see makers supporting makers. I hope the bonds created with the Kickstarter last long after the funding is over!

In the future, we will be facilitating ties of communication between hackerspaces around the world. If you're interested in connecting and supporting this project in ANY way. Please email me at bilal@gemsi.org

If you could request an Instructable, what would you like to see someone make?

I would love to see an instructable that talks about extracting energy directly from the atmosphere. Here's a hint, search "Hermann Plauson"

What tool is indispensable to you as a maker?

Arduino. Honestly it opens up a world of possibility. I was a computer science major in college and once I had the ability to interact with sensors and manipulate the real world I was blown away. It was amazing! I felt like I gained a new arm or leg. When I travel I bring an Arduino with me, it's like a programmable multitool! With a creative mind, all the electronics around you can be the start of a new project.