Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maria's Concept map with DIY links

"Craftsmanship entails learning to do one thing really well, while the ideal of the new economy is to be able to learn new things, celebrating potential rather than achievement." (Crawford, 2009, p.19)
For this week, I updated my concept map... once again :) The new color for this week's readings is yellow (see image below). My initial understandings of the concept of DIY was mainly related to the creation of useful objects, e.g. going to IKEA and buying the parts of a table and then assembling it yourself. As I got to learn more about this type of work in relation to the arts, I came to understand what Gershenfeld characterized to be "useful arts". So DIY can also be a form of art, through which we can create anything we want, with the tools and materials we have available, and sometimes conveying some sort of messages (other times the product is simply decorative).

Click on the image to view the map. You can also see it HERE.

With the reading around LilyPad and all the materials on Computational Sketchbook, the conductive paint, the Living wall, I am realizing the potential that these DIY projects have, which is not only utility (some have no practical utility) but also creative, personal expression. One can improvise and create or sorts of stuff, like for example the sketchbook that Buechley presented. Indeed, digital elements are brought into the real world and become embodied in it, through our interactions with them. I mean, the LilyPad is a very interactive digital tool that becomes one with the real world, as we manipulate it and move it around as we would with a battery, or another object.

What would be interesting to explore, apart from the potential for creativity, is the potential for learning with such technologies. For example, learning about circuits through these practices is a very powerful way of engaging students in complex and difficult concepts in the classroom. What would that mean for formal learning environments? How would we introduce such technologies to teachers and also a curriculum that responds to the needs of the school?

I think that the future of such technologies is promising in relation to the affordances provided. We are heading towards a participatory culture that is open and welcomes new opportunities of crafting, as Crawford says in the quotation at the beginning of this blog. The examples in the readings and in the videos of this week are inspiring for new kinds of creation and participation. For example, storytelling would be greatly expressed and communicated through projects like LilyPad and materials like conductive paint. If I had an opportunity to create something with those, it would probably be a story but at the same time, with taking lots of screenshots and videos throughout the process and create a video in the end showing both the creation process and the message/story I would like to communicate...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Maria's DIY adventures

So this week I experimented with a couple of DIY stuff. This year, I wanted to learn how to make my own bread, and I have to say, I am enjoying the process. Now that I am becoming an "expert" baker (not), I started making alterations... Adding sunflower seeds, nuts, cranberries, etc. It is so tasty! Lately, I started experimenting with the baking process: Instead of putting it in the stove, I am taking the dough and I toast it... making paninis! My latest invention was the banana bread... it tastes delicious :) I looked online for some recipes but I ended up making alterations and coming up with my own version of banana bread.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon this video:
It is a very interesting video, showing different types of DIY communities and DIY ideas. We are all makers was the phrase that made the greatest impression to me. By nature, we grab stuff and we manipulate them, we create products, we express ourselves and we are being creative. From bread making and all culinary arts, to crafting, to video creations and to remixes.

I decided to create a video to upload on YouTube (haven't decided on the topic yet). I created videos a few years ago, but never thought the creation process in terms of the topics we explore this semester. I think that the future of new media is leaning towards a kind of interactive participation that allows people to create freely, but also to create discussions around the products. It seems to be a future that affords opportunities for collaboration to a greater extent and for creative expression.

The DIY spaces also provide opportunities for collaboration and creative expression. People can take what is out there and generate new ideas (powerful ones, like Resnick argues) and come up with new forms of DIY products. For examples, the LilyPad provides opportunities for people to create all sorts of products and to participate in the communities in their own, unique ways. I think that, and the conductive paint projects (Sketchbook) and work that the MIT lab leads is a very powerful media that alters the way we look at participatory learning and creativity.

DIY- Adventures of Upcycling

Upcycling is a coming back trend hitting homes around the world. My grandmother use to do this out of necessity - for example, tearing old t-shirts up to make 'rag rugs' - Now we are doing it as a way to be creative AND to help keep the environment clean. I discovered the 'art of upcycling' when exploring www.etsy.com for photography props. Some items I have seen are purses, suitcases, jewelry, clothing, and so much more. Here are a few recent examples:

In search for how to make something from my plastic Target bags, I came across a blog that shows step by step instructions for sewing together plastic bags to make a tote or a wallet. I also have a wonderful book that shows even more projects and techniques for creating totes and purses from our plastic shopping bags! The blog I am referencing for this project, though, is:

In addition, I found at the Better Homes and Garden site an interesting and useful idea for the spring and summer months - turning your orphan socks into something more beautiful and very useful -

Thus, I will attempt to create a flower pot decorated with an orphan sock and sew a tote from my plastic bags! I will be tweaking the tote directions a bit - this blog shows how to take a feed bag (already fused plastic) and converting it to a useful tote - I will be fusing the plastic shopping bags and then creating a tote. An extra step, but well worth it - after all, what in the world will I do with all of these plastic shopping bags I continue to shove into my pantry? Now maybe, I will make enough totes to take with me to the store as my future grocery bags! And these totes will make great beach bags for the summer picnics at Monroe Reservoir.

Discussion questions:
What is the future of new media”? In short, I think the future holds great potential for new media - we are already surrounded by it (whether we know it or not) - thus I believe it will be a part of our daily lives from waking to an iPad alarm to mapping our route to school using our GPS devises to our children learning in a paperless environment during the day. We will not escape the up and coming changes already in the works. New media is the future for living, learning, and creating a greener environment - by eliminating the use of paper in books, newspapers, and magazines - our children will be publishing their works before they can write with a pencil and our relatives will be eternally remembered via digital videos saved on the cloud. This type of world leads us to a type of learning that relies upon the fundamentals of constructionism - where children will create their spaces through the arts, sciences, or mathematics - online for the world to see and explore. I found the following TED talk that shares how people can make their own music - regardless of your abilities to understand how to read it or write it! MIT has created Brain Opera, Toy Symphony, and Hyperscore. MIT has taken this to another level - to help individuals not only learn to read and write music, but to use it to better their lives holistically. MIT aims to use new technologies to make new music which affects the mind and health of all. In this presentation, you will see Dan Ellsey perform using the software, Hyperscore. Dan is a quadriplegic and uses sensors that he controls with his movements to choreograph and perform his music. Please take time to watch this TED talk! To me - this is a mind blowing example of where new media is taking us!