Authors@Google: Dale Dougherty

Uploaded by AtGoogleTalks on Apr 9, 2010

>> As you guys know, this is Dale Dougherty who is co-founder of O'Reilly Media and founder
of Make Magazine and the Maker Faire so if you could just give a round of applause.
Dale Dougherty: Good. I have to stay near the podium I gather. How many of you are familiar
with Make and Maker Faire? Good. That's probably why you're here. You know, today I tried to
put some context around what I see in what we're doing and also show you a lot of things
that are coming up in Make and talking a bit about Maker Faire and I'm going to start with
a fairly gratuitous video but it actually shows a festival in Mexico. It has nothing
to do with Make or Maker Faire and I don't think I could do what they're doing at Maker
Faire without getting a huge amount of trouble and to be said, you probably shouldn't do
this at home either. It's called Sledgehammer Fireworks. [video playing in background] And
they tape explosive to an end of a sledgehammer and then hit it on an I-Beam. [video continues
to play in background] It's very much a DIY, get involved, do it yourself thing and what's
kind of interesting in this video is a fella comes up
related to the person shooting the video and starts asking questions and they say, "Hey,
do you want to try it?" So let's go from there. [fireworks in
background from video] Is it possible to turn the lights off over
here? [video continues to play in background] Watch how quickly this guy comes up behind
him. At any rate, so it's not something you want to do I think but it's kind of interesting,
not only the activity as a group of people doing something but they dress the
part and do that which kind of leads me into my idea here that
I wanted to talk about. Do you know there's 84,000 people registered on the US Census
who list a primary occupation as Elvis impersonator? You know,
there's something about - well, I'm calling it the rise of
tribute bands. Amateurs acting like pros, doing things that are like what someone else
does but doing it at their own level, you know? And to some degree
to be able to take an idea, make it your own, and perform it
in front of people. Here's a five year old kid who dressed up like the drummer from KISS
and you know creates a YouTube video [video playing in
background] and you know you probably wouldn't watch him if he
wasn't dressed up like Eric Singer. [video continues to play in background] What is it
that's going on here? You know, to some degree there are musicians,
there are bands out there but as in this quote here he said,
"You know, let's be Guns and Roses for Halloween." They went out and said I get to play someone
and be that person that I really admire but they somehow got a crowd and it mattered to
them that they got a group of people in front of them. This is another tribute band, DSO,
Dark Star Orchestra. They actually recreate Grateful Dead concerts. They take a particular
concert on a particular date and they play every song that
was played by the Grateful Dead on that date. They sell CDs and they sell everything. I
mean, they've become their own touring band and this is my [inaudible] Led Zeppelin tribute
band and you know a reporter asked him, "Do you think the rise in the number of tribute
bands means that's something missing from today's music?" And he says, "Yes, you know.
It's too corporate. Creativity is gone." I mean, you're basically copying someone and
saying that creativity is gone but one of the patterns that I'd like to talk about is
in many ways that when you make something, it doesn't have to be your own idea. It doesn't
have to be original. Copying is a particular human thing that we do well and it's a pretty
good starting point for many of us and it often
leads to other things. I mean you could argue that Guitar Hero makes everyone into a tribute
band and you play in your living room. We came across this
group, Guitar Zeros, who take Guitar Heroes and began playing real music with their play
guitars. They took the plastic guitar controllers and realized it had sensors and you could
do different movements with it and then they plugged it up to their own controller and
began to create their own music, create their own band
and we put them on the cover of Make last year sometime so
it's a pattern. These are enthusiasts. They are doing something they love, their amateurs.
That's kind of the root word, root meaning of the word amateur
but I think what's often lost in this is that their actually
really interested in creating a following. They want to connect to other people. This
is something that they on one hand do on their own but they want
to connect to other people doing similar things and they want to
share that with other people, which sort of leads me to this kind of idea about what can
we learn from garage bands, what can we learn from that
process meaning; and I'm thinking in terms of education. I'm
thinking in terms of innovation so it's a kind of pattern. A garage band, you don't
necessarily need formal training in music say to play in a garage
band. It might help but it's not required. What's almost more
important is your own initiative, that you start something yourself and you're committed
to working at it and then pretty soon you begin to find other
people who are at your own level of ability or interest and you
try to meet with them and you try to get together and do things. Something that I'm seeing kind
of broadly in this area, and not just garage bands, but
you think about it; today in many, many different areas,
amateurs and professionals are using the same tools. In this case, it's guitars. In the
case of publishing, I'm probably using the same tools that my
audience is using. We are all kind of converging on the same tool
set but behind it you practice and you play and that's kind of the pattern of making for
most people. You are practicing something to get better at
it but you're also playing, you're enjoying it and as I said earlier, you realize that
at some point it's okay to copy. We probably call it sharing in a more fashionable sense
but we inherently copy each other just as when you watch that Sledgehammer Fireworks
you start thinking about, "Well, really? How could I do that?" But also you begin to create
a following and you're interested in that and I think that's again what we're beginning
to see in Makers. What's really different today say from the models of a lone tinkerer
is that they, it's easier for them to connect with other people. You are often dependent
on the people in your neighborhood, the people in your school to find sort of fellow travelers.
Today, I think you can reach out and connect to lots of different groups but in the garage
band model, you're looking for venues. Where can we go to play together? Where can we get
friends to come and see us? And how do you develop a following over time, and even how
you track that. Well of course, garage bands go back to even the idea or the paradigm if
you will of garage invention, which is obviously well known in the Valley here but what you
might not know as well as this is Bagley Avenue. It's the garage of Henry Ford where in 1896
he built his first vehicle which he called the Quadricycle. It was really built from
bicycle parts and that's what his garage looked like then but interestingly enough for Ford,
he had a kind of similar idea. He wasn't the inventor of automobiles, he was really someone
who was trying to create an affordable, reliable vehicle that he thought more people could
use. His real interest was to help get people off of farms and into cities. He grew up on
a farm himself and he thought that was just a terrible place to have to be all by yourself.
He was also afraid of horses and didn't like farm work so he wanted to remove some of the
drudgery; but you know there was also this social component of garages. They were places
to hang out or in the case here of the Homebrew Computer Club, which is again it's almost
mythical, in terms of the formation of and start of computing in the Valley but Steve
Wozniak says, "I just love going to the Homebrew Computer Club and showing off my ideas and
designing neat computers. I was willing to do that for free for the rest of my life."
And there were things like the West Coast Computer Fair where early Apple II computers
were shown to people and they had no idea that other people would be interested in what
they were doing. Well today, maybe the equivalent of the Homebrew Computer Club is something
called Hackerspaces. This is NYC Resistor in Brooklyn and it's probably a couple of
years old. There are several in the Bay Area, Noise Bridge in San Francisco is one hackerspace
and they are kind of a growing movement. These are a group of individuals who get together
to rent a space, buy equipment, maintain it, and they pay somewhere between $80 and $100
a month to get together and have a space to make things in, but like the garage bands
this is sort of the garage bands of the Make world. This is MakerBot and it's their product
and that's Bre Pettis on your left - well no, your right. Sorry. And you know they made
this, started it as a business out of NYC Resistor and you know it's essentially a long
and open source model where there was a project called RepRap which was trying to do 3D printing
and they took that project and really packaged it up a nice way. They took the open source
and they used an Arduino controller and they kind of just created a polished kit that made
it affordable for a new audience of people to have 3D printers and you know this is kind
of what it looks like sort of being put together. You know, you have to build the casing and
connect all the electronics together but it's taking something that, which I'll be talking
about today; it's taking something that costs, let's say 15 to $20,000, and bringing it down
to a $1,000 or less as a kit model. It kind is reminiscent of those of you who might remember
laser printers and things of how they started out very expensive in the almost $30,000 range
and then began finding a broader audience and came down dramatically in price. So one
aspect is there's a community behind the MakerBot and they're producing drawings and things
that you can use on the MakerBot to create objects and so you could go to this site called
Thingiverse, download the graphic, and play with it, modify it, or just send it right
out to the printer. This is a part and it's assembled, someone is making a model of a
cathedral, a gothic cathedral and they're printing out all the individual parts and
then assembling it like that. So, a really kind of interesting application so that it's
not only the tool but the tool also creates a community of users who share designs and
expertise. We're not Rolling Stone but these guys did get on the cover of Make with their
MakerBot in the current issue and we're really talking a lot about 3D printing and CNC machines
in that. So, kind of relating to the tribute bands, is sort of, I think, one of the opportunities
in making is this idea of doing knockoffs and we sometimes say that fairly negatively
and say that China does this knockoff of American products and things but maybe we need to do
our own knockoffs and we certainly see that in the DIY world. Again, taking something
that's an industrial 3D printer, looking at the technology and how with various components
can I make a thousand dollar version of that. Some of these things are rather fanciful and
different. This is something coming to Maker Faire called Hermes. Someone built a space
shuttle for themselves. They intend it to fly someday but right now it's kind of connected
to their garage in Arizona, but again it's - if you remember, Make is sort of based
on some of the old magazines like Popular Science and Popular Mechanics and you know
if you go back and look at those old covers, often it was you know "Build your Own Space
vehicle". In the '50s, it was that sort of level of fantasy. In fact, they say the most
popular cover is sort of the car that converts to a plane and every now and then they'll
- it's never been solved in a useful but everybody believes it's around the corner.
Here's an example of a group called Backyard Brains. Their PhD graduates from Michigan
in Neuroscience and this a device they call the SpikerBox and they are trying to measure
the flow of neurons in an insects leg and all it does is produce a sound of that flow
and they can strike it and do different things but what was interesting there is these guys
said that it was the third year of grad school before they got access to the device to hear
this, to plant the electrodes in the insects leg and listen to it, and that device costs
about $40,000. Well, their SpikerBox is about a $100 kit and their idea is well suddenly
that device could be out in a high school biology classroom and you could this experiment
[video playing in background] You can kind of hear a little bit of it there. It could
be broadened in its use to larger audience. You know, they said think about what if
telescopes were only available at observatories, you know? What does it mean to have a telescope
that's affordable and in your backyard so I think
there's areas of knockoffs like this in scientific instrumentation and other perhaps industrial
equipment that we might be seeing from Makers. Either to make something more affordable,
to realize that there are now open components such as micro controllers that could be used
in making that thing and that a community can help put it together and finally that
the use could be extended to a broader audience. This is kind of, in some ways, an idea that's
related to Eric Von Hippel's book in "Democratizing Innovation" and his idea is that a lot of
product innovation comes from user communities, not just from a R&D process, which is what
our more conventional model is, and that users are able to innovate themselves, that they
don't have to develop everything they need. In fact, being able to
borrow and put together things that other people have done is pretty much a Makers skill
but I think the most important point is that users benefit
directly from their own innovations and he gives a lot of
examples from extreme sports where someone wants to modify a kayak to go down a certain
kind of rapids and the need a snub nose kayak and the manufacturers don't make that, they
don't believe there's an audience for that so someone begins to make that, other people
see him, and you know it's often the start of a small business. We had a Young Maker
program in San Francisco at the Exploratorium and one of our young - he's a junior at Mountainview
and he's a professional skateboarder downhill and he is modifying, he's never had to make
something like this before, but he's modifying the trucks of his skateboard because he wants
a different kind of feel on such a fast ride so it's a kind of a similar thing where he's
at the edge of performance of what standard equipment would
offer and he wants to extend it. These are all Model T's that
have been modified in the field for different purposes and you know it sort of tells you
that hacking has been going on for a long time, that we modify
the things we use. We change them because we see opportunities to use them in ways that
they're not intended and this is an example from Monkey Bikes and these are LED wheels
which you know we can put on a bike and you might use it for just a form of expression
but it also sort of serves as a safety device as well, but again modifying something fairly
simple so in many ways what I see in the Make Spaces and from the beginning is people are
playing with technology the way we play with music or we play in other areas, and out of
that sparks new ideas and sparks sort of new opportunities to meet other people. Communities
organize around projects and tools and skill sets. I mentioned Arduino and it's becoming
this really important thing that a lot of people are learning electronics to be able
to create specialized devices. I was meeting with someone yesterday who's at Stanford working
on an artificial knee, the JaipurKnee, and you know they are really fascinated by what
cheap micro controllers can allow them to do in areas that they might not have had and
again part of the design going on with something like JaipurKnee was to make it affordable
in a very different market. We also have artists collaborating and creating new forms of expression.
This is a pulse jet organ which not only makes terrific sound but it shoots flame in the
air and I just like the idea of the keyboard there connected to something that complicated.
What's pretty cool too is it also folds up into a little car and like something from
Star Wars rolls away after a performance. We also form communities in workshops and
with hand tools and the other kind of things that we have at hand but one of the things
that I'm particularly interested in, and this is kind of the heart and soul of Make, is
that instructions or patterns, patterns for other people to follow and
sharing those instructions is pretty powerful. Instructions are the open source of making.
It is our code base. It's here how I did this. It might be
someone's particular way of doing it, it might be more like a general recipe for doing a
class of things but essentially when I came up with the idea for Make, I saw that
technology magazines really didn't contain those kind of instructions anymore. They talked
about technology but they didn't really say how
they were put together or how you might do this yourself so by
having those instructions, you allow someone to respond by saying, "I'd like to build that.
I'd like to learn how to do that." Our very first issue
- I often use this because this was sort of a really typical but
kind of emblematic project for Make. It was kite aerial photography. There's a KAP community
out there and there's all kinds of rigs you could build.
Chris Benton, who's a professor of architecture at Berkeley,
designed one made of Popsicle sticks and using a disposable camera, and it went off once
during a flight but you know it was combining something that was
pretty fun anyway as a kid, to fly kites, with photography and it really gives you a
perspective that you don't get from the ground. This is off of Point Reyes and I don't
know, it's a little hard to see but if you follow the black string up the kind of the
middle of it, that's kind of where the kite is and then Chris is standing on that brown
pad in the center there taking the picture so it began as a work project for him. As
a professor of architecture, he wanted to see buildings from different angles and he
wanted to understand kind of how they would like. If you look at a building straight down
from an airplane, you know you're not seeing those angles and if you look at it from the
ground, you're only looking up so that was his original intent but he's become actually
a photographer with a gallery of photos that he's taken with different rigs. Take it one
step further and you began taking model rocketry that you did as a kid and figuring out that
you could take a disposable video camera [video playing in background] and put it inside of
the rocket and film your own space flight, or not quite space flight, but you know what
I mean. We also see, and this is one of those issues of making a radar detector from a Hot
Wheels toy. It's just how we're taking - in fact, we have a lot of consumer technology
out there that people are harvesting the components from and remaking something else with them.
One of the most popular is actually the Wii controllers which have a lot of very cheap
sensors in them and it would be almost as expensive to buy them separately. So again,
enthusiasts are people that are doing something they love doing. They're playing, they are
figuring it out, and their creating a following. In many ways, that's kind of what we do on
Twitter. We tell people about what we're doing and share links about what other projects
are going on. We don't always do that. This is a Tweet-a-Watt project we had where we
plug an appliance into a device called a kilowatt and then it was modified to have a wireless
capability to upload the data to a computer which then publishes it to Twitter so that
you could actually have a Twitter conversation with your appliance about how much power it's
using on a daily basis. So I think when we look out there, we see people building their
own networks around what they do. Some are creating things, some are consuming things,
but there all sharing things back and forth and I think it's kind of interesting. At least
as a publisher, that's how I think of my audience as doing this stuff to extend their network
and to some degree my job is to help them extend that network. To connect them to others
and connect them to other communities and that's really what I see we are trying to
do at Make, is sort of creating this network of Makers. A kind of movement where people
have used the term Maker to mean something almost general that allows them to connect
to different groups, even though one might be in Robotics and the other might be in soft
circuit embroidery and another might be in fire machines. So I'm particularly interested,
and I was going to do a little more in this talk, but it's just who's following whom in
these sort of special interest communities? This is not necessarily Make related but this
is Twitter users most followed by people that had posted during the Web 2 Summit, one of
our guys in research did this but I think we're getting to a place where we're starting
to get tools through Google's open social and others where the activity that people
are doing in these communities can be sort of understood and connected to more easily.
I'm in the process of organizing Maker Faire this year not just in the Bay area but in
Detroit as well as New York City, and going to a place like Detroit is very different
then the Bay area. It's one of the most depressed regions in the country, schools are terrible,
there's blight, there's all kinds of really challenging issues there but there are lots
of creative and technical people there who I think we're trying to help network them
together, to get them to know each other, and to allow them really the freedom to work
together to create something new for Detroit. It's pretty exciting but I think in many ways
it's like how do I - what kind of tools can we use to make that process more transparent
to more people? Makers know where things - where to get supplies, at least in their
area. They know where someone is an expert in something or who makes something somewhere
and I have this idea that over time we'd like to be engaged in mapping some of these communities
in terms of where the capabilities are, where the assets are, where the Makers in that,
and even from a publishing point of view. Publishing talks about, or media talks about,
demographics and psychographics. I think we're going to come up with something close to a
term like social graphics, which allows us to understand that each person that we talk
to isn't an individual, they're actually a network. They take something, like a message
from Twitter, and it might be oh "Sledgehammer Fireworks. That's a cool video. I'm going
to send that out to my group." And I'm, in a sense, feeding my own network with content
from various sources so the idea from activity groups and other things really connect people
in terms of what they're doing and in terms of who they are. [inaudible] They bring together
a lot of very different styles of making. A lot of different kinds of people and I think
that makes a difference. It's not just geeks, it's not just electronics. There are all kinds
of different kinds of making. Some on the artistic side, some on the deep technology
side. I'm going to talk about a few of the projects that interest me this year that I've
seen coming in for Maker Faire. One is a Gigapan and this was a project from Carnegie Mellon
and NASA. They collaborated on how to take high resolution photographs like panoramas
by using a device that basically takes multiple high res photos and then they stitch them
together through software so it's been focused on panoramas, creating like this top image
of the Bay and the bottom image where you can zoom in but what's kind of interesting
and new that I'm seeing is now they're starting to use for macro photography. To take things
and in effect enlarge them the way that they've been doing panoramas so I met with - there's
a; Gene Cooper; and this a rig but what's kind of cool in how this ties together
is he's mounted basically his camera on a CNC machine so it can make very, very small
steps to traverse say that butterfly and take a complete picture of it and to give you a
sense of it, and this doesn't do a great sense of it, but that's a picture of an eagle feather
that was taken with this rig. It's composed of 7,500 different pictures that have been
stitched together, and again, you know, you don't quite get the idea of the resolution
from my picture of a picture but he was in the office last Friday and it was fascinating
to see what they're doing there so again, this is, they are working on it as a kit,
as something that - and the kind of transformation that happens is they were talking to a natural
history museum that if someone wants to find a specimen in a natural history museum, you
have to make a reservation. You have to fly there and look at it. What if they create
something like this that creates a very, very high resolution image of that object? Here's
another fellow - there's a HAM radio club. HAM is as old as, and it sort of gives birth
to electronics in many ways, but they are connecting sensors and equipment to measure
heart rate and temperature and communicate over frequencies but you know also GPS so
they just last weekend, or on the 20th, did a jump from 20,000 feet to produce that map
of - here's how this jumper came down to Earth so it's really pretty interesting. Apart from
just mapping say a jump, they are also using it potentially to
monitor and communicate between a group of jumpers which is
sometimes a problem in their space. I put this in there just because - back to my copying
thing, people do simple things that are fun. Make a photo booth
and you know the equipment is not particularly expensive but
the idea is something that's sort of popular and so Ray Munson building a photo booth for
Maker Faire and he wants to create photos like that which you can go in with your girlfriend
or boyfriend and have a picture taken. We also will have bigger things like
Soma which is the Flaming Lotus Girls installation set up at
Maker Faire and you know, we're not just about new technology. We also cover some of the
older stuff [video playing in the background] This is an ad created
by one of our exhibitors [video continues playing in
background] So the last thing I'll say, this is a sensor activated squirrel cam so the
idea is that it's written in a processing language on the Arduino
and outside a window is a sensor and the squirrel trips the
sensor, takes the picture, it's uploaded to the website, and it sends it's user an email
that the squirrel is out there. The interesting thing is the
person that created this application said they modified the
CatCam project in our book by Tom Igoe of making things talk, modified it instead of
monitoring a cat, it's monitoring a squirrel but I was looking on
the website and this is an 8th graders project which is pretty
impressive work. So our theme for this year at Maker Faire is Young Makers and we've been
working with Pixar and the Exploratorium to engage more young kids in making and we had
a program last Saturday at the Exploratorium on making music. It featured several different
kinds of people who make musical instruments and everything from a kelp horn which is a
piece of seaweed taken from the ocean and dried and Krys Bobrowski is a French horn
player but she plays the kelp horn and it's beautiful sound. Through Walter
Kitundu, who started off as a DJ, and he began obviously making sounds with a turntable then
began adding other things and ways of making sound next
to the turntable and began making instruments and he demonstrated a kind of harp that was
also connected to his computer and he was looping out some beautiful sounds, and then
Gee Wang from Stanford who is the developer of the Ocarina application, which is, you
know, you blow into the IPhone and you play it like a flute, so there's such an interesting
mix of technologies here but part of it is we want to open it up to - we are seeing it
open up to kids more and more, to get kids making things. It's a great way for them to
take something in the magazine and copy it and try to make it
themselves. Our next issue, which comes out in a couple of weeks, is called "Remote Control
Everything" and it actually started because I found some guy's; we didn't replicate this
in the magazine but they modified a car so they could drive it with an IPhone. I mean,
sit on the roof of the car and you know, go left, right,
forward, backward. It's on a test track as we say but it's pretty interesting. This one,
you can't see it very well, but it's a lawnmower so you can sit in your chair, have your drink,
and let the robotic lawnmower mow your lawn and that's the kind of things
that's coming up. You also see up there "Build this Twittering
Cat Toy" so we are still back to cats and we're still back to pets. Ways to every time
your cat hits the toy, it sends a message to you and let you know that the cat is active
somehow. That's pretty much what I wanted to kind of show you is just sort of some different
kinds of projects, different kinds of patterns of making that I'm seeing and we'd love to
have you. Maker Faire is also - our applications are still open. If you have a garage project
or something that you're working on, something you'd like to share with other people; anything
from a performance piece, an installation piece, an exhibit, a tabletop full of electronics
and explain to people, we'd love to have you there. If you go to, there's
the call for Makers link, and fill it out and let us know
what you'd like to do there. So, thank you very much and I'd be
happy to answer any questions you have. [applause]