There’s no such thing as mistakes when you’re practicing

I think it’s extremely important to build with your hands and really embrace craft. And feel like you can build things and construct what’s in your mind, rather than trying to search for it on the computer.

Eric Bogner, father of a 6-year-old who is attending Construction Kids in Brooklyn. The program sounds pretty amazing to me. It’s very much the type of thing I’d love to see happen near where we live.

And if I didn’t already love the idea enough, I found this quote on the site from Riley (5 years old):

There’s no such thing as mistakes when you’re practicing.

Finally, this video of three-year-old Ryan building a chair is absolutely awe-inspiring.

Their own birdhouse

We really believe that no kid should build anything that they have not designed themselves, and no kid should build anything that doesn’t have some kind of meaning for a community beyond themselves.

In other words, I’m never going to hand a kid a set of drawings and say go build this birdhouse. I say birdhouse because we have built birdhouses in my girl’s camp, but every girl designs their own birdhouse with a very specific bird in mind, and it’s intended to be placed in a specific ecosystem for the benefit of a local community garden.

Emily Pilloton talking about Project H, where kids are encouraged to design their own projects for the next larger context.

Hulling rice

“There was a lot of trial and a lot of error,” Brill said. It took two years for him to crack the huller, during which time he developed a custom spoke mechanism, found exactly the right foam pad in a boat-supply store, and cannibalized various home appliances for parts. He now offers designs for a table-top huller, capable of milling four pounds per hour; a bike-powered version, which can process up to twenty pounds; and a larger one, powered by the motor from a clothes dryer, on which his son was eventually able to process six hundred pounds.

I love this story by Nicola Twilley about Don Brill‘s creation of a cheap rice hulling machine.

What I love even more is Don Brill’s video demonstrating how it works.

What we know gets in the way

Sometimes what we know gets in the way of what could be. Especially when it comes to the human-built world. We think we already know how something works, so we can’t imagine how it could work. We know how it’s supposed to work, but we can’t suppose all the things that could be possible. Kids don’t have as hard as a time with this.

Jay Silver, discussing what he noticed when watching people creating things from raw materials in a forest, which lead to the question:

What kind of tools can we give people so that they can see the world as malleable, so that they can see themselves as agents of change?

This in turn lead to the creation of MaKey MaKey. The TED talk is well worth a watch.

In the beginning were lists

Umberto Eco has been invited by the Louvre in Paris to curate an exhibition. He has chosen lists as his organising principle.

Making lists is often derided as a cop-out: something that we do instead of actually creating or making something. Lists have recently been called a degenerate case of essay.

It seems that Umberto Eco would disagree. He believes that lists are the origin of culture.

The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order — not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.

Reading the rest of this interview makes me wonder if there is really a clear distinction between curation and creation or whether the two are inextricably linked. I strongly suspect that behind every act of creation lies a long history of curation, which is effectively the act of making lists. Every truly amazing musician I have known has had an equally amazing record collection. Good writers almost always have a fantastic library. In the world of user experience design, there are numerous examples of pattern libraries. Everything is made out of something, and we tend to collect before we create.

Best thing since bifocals

Josh Silver has created a pair of eye glasses that allow you to change the prescription by adjusting the amount of liquid in the lenses. He recently demonstrated his invention at TEDGlobal in Oxford.

This is a brilliant invention and makes it possible to provide glasses for millions people who don’t have access to an optometrist.

(via TreeHugger)