|Some Thoughts on Tangibot, Makerbot, and Community||| Print ||
|Written by Akiba|
|Saturday, 11 August 2012|
Today was kind of strange. I normally am pretty busy doing designs. It's busy enough that I try to ignore as many distractions as possible, try not to leave the house, and mainly just concentrate on what I'm designing, milling, assembling, or whatever else needs to be done. But a Kickstarter project was brought to my attention via Twitter that for some reason, struck enough of an emotional chord in me, that I felt the need to comment on it .
I'm not a stranger to posting comments. Most people that know me also know that I'm opinionated and can sometimes be a bit of a jerk about it. This was a bit different though because not only did it require me to spend the time and thought to write the comment, but I also had to pay $10 to do it. The issue at hand was a Kickstarter project that, in it's campaign sales pitch, overtly stated that it was a direct clone of the Makerbot Replicator . It was actually used as a selling point.
It brought enough of an emotional response out of me that, not only did I drop what I was doing, I also took the time to write a lengthy post, and paid $10 (as a project backer) to get that post published on Kickstarter. After I did all that, I started trying to figure out why I went to such a length on this particular issue. I really don't do any 3-D printing and don't know the Makerbot guys personally. One of the guys I talk to regularly on Twitter postulated that the negative reaction to this project by the open source community might be a manifestation of the latent fears of the OSHW business model.
The community was extremely egalitarian since most people understood that there wasn't a lot of money to be made being a dancer. Yet accepting that fact, still continuing to do it, and doing it with a passion was one of the beautiful aspects that I loved about dancer. In the dance community, all you really had was a reputation, and by being a positive contributor to the community, your reputation would grow. People that were famous within the hip hop dance communities were called ghetto celebrities, because everyone in the community knew them but were unknown outside of that. It was also possible to negatively affect your reputation and this would happen when you tried to do things that negatively impacted the community. Examples are thing like: exploiting other dancers by copying their moves and claiming them as your own (non-attribution) and selling out by doing things only for a profit motive while compromising your artistic integrity.
Regarding the comment I posted on the Tangibot Kickstarter, Matt Strong gave a response that addressed my objections to his campaign. I believe I have a better understanding of his motivations, but at the same time, I don't think he knows what he's getting into. The Arduino isn't as popular as it is because they make a PCB with a microcontroller and a standardized connector interface. It's popular because they first started thinking about how they could help artists learn about embedded technology. That gave rise to a simplified IDE, tons of tutorials, an extremely lively and active community, a plethora of interesting projects that most corporations would die for, neverending posts on its support forum, and ceaseless request for new features (ha ha ha). Makerbot almost singlehandedly brought 3-D printing into the mainstream, created a large community of fervent supporters around it, spoke about it around the world, and even forced companies like HP to get involved in home 3-D printing. I think that outsiders mainly see the product, but from my point of view as an insider manufacturing open source hardware, the real magic is in the ecosystem and community nurtured by companies like Arduino, Makerbot, Adafruit, and DIY Drones.
written by Ross Hendrickson, August 13, 2012
written by Dave Jones, August 13, 2012
written by Helena Zhan, August 13, 2012
written by Terence Tam, August 14, 2012
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