DH Makerbus


This week the Digital Humanities Makerbus came to FIMS.

What I liked most about the bus was the tactile ability to get right in there and interact with the resources. I made my own LED throwie, played on a play-dough keyboard, and saw a vibrating motor make art!

Makerspaces invite inquiry and afterwards I was inspired to finally tear apart my laser pointer and use the lens on my smartphone to turn it into a macro lens camera. Definitely worth the effort as now I know how easy it is to do.

See me talking a bit about it here.



3D Printing and Public Policy

Through my work with makerspace resources, I came across this new campaign by the ALA, Progress in the Making: An Introduction to 3D Printing and Public Policy. It is a great tool to frame discussions on the issues around 3D printing such as intellectual property, intellectual freedom, safety concerns, and product liability.

The biggest issue that stimulates the need for public policy on this topic is illustrated here:
“As this technology takes off, a growing number of people will gain the ability to create and market complex and potentially dangerous products” (ALA, 2014, p. 2).

It was interesting to see this article looking towards pharmaceutical product printing at home and the question of whether libraries would be liable for user products printed at a library: The answer is unclear as “courts have yet to interpret product liability in the context of 3D printing” (p. 2).

Lots of issues to look at as 3D printers continue to gain prominence in libraries.

American Library Association (2014, September). Progress in the making: An introduction to 3D printing and public policy, 1. Retrieved from

Is the maker movement good for the environment?

6165114664_5fab6e38ff_bPhoto by Keith Kissel, on Flickr Creative Commons

I am really enjoying working with maker resources at the Graduate Resource Centre, something that is about to ramp up when we host unLondon’s MakerBus next week. However, this article looks at some of the unintended consequences of the movement, particularly the environmental problems with the rise of 3D printing and experimental design. Here are some notes that hit home for me:

  • I enjoyed the concept of “unuseless” as there are definitely some items around my home that I can apply to that term.
  • It seems like 3D printing technology is leading to this futuristic concept of having a printer in each home that can make you anything you desire. Production capacity on an individual household scale does lead to innovation, provided that the literacy for how to design and create items is there, but the cost of production is being carried onto the consumer, including electricity, materials, and technology. This would also lead to a market of intellectual property, as the product being sold to the end-user now becomes the design itself. What would the business model look like for this?
  • Making plastic “unuseless” items is not going to solve any environmental problems, just make them worse. However, I do believe that the importance of the maker movement is in the balance of power and literacy shifting towards the consumer and inventor rather than big corporations. Still, it is worth keeping these issues in mind when selecting maker resources. Teaching about design and production should also involve a discussion of the resources involved and their environmental impact, so it seems like this could easily be incorporated into makerspaces.
  • Makerspaces are not only involved in the 3D printing business, though it is hard to separate them from this image, and these environmental waste issues illustrate why low-tech tools should not be neglected. Low-tech tools can aid in innovation without using up nonrenewable resources that are not environmentally friendly.

Looking forward to the discussion that these ideas will generate at next week’s presentation “The Maker Movement and the Role of Maker Spaces in Today’s Communities“.