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Why Robot Makers Love Weaving

I found this post in my Google Docs and I assume I wrote it for something or other back in the day, but I don’t remember where it landed.  For Throw Back Thursday, I give you Dale Dougherty and my meandering mind on the Maker Movement ala 2010.  I’m publishing this post as I found it. 

There is much to admire about Dale Dougherty founder of Make magazine and the Maker Faire. If you aren’t familiar with his work, the Faire, and the maker movement, here is a short interview I did with him on what it means to be a Maker, the role of community, and his passion for craftsmanship. It was filmed while at the Aspen Idea Festival where I was hosting a booth for Schacht. I talked my way into a press pass for the Festival and it was AMAZABELLS.


Perhaps without Dougherty’s pioneering work, I would not be speaking to you through the medium of the web in quite the same way. In addition to playing a pivotal role in the marker movement, he developed the first commercial website and coined the phrase Web 2.0. The latter refers to the time just after the bubble burst in the 1990’s and everyone was scratching their heading saying “what now?” What “now” was the web. Small batches of web technology enthusiast starting saying to themselves, “who cares if there is no money in it, I’m doing to make this technology work for me” and boy howdy did they!

Let us consider loom 2.0 (really we are probably on loom 6,932.0, but let’s not quibble). Schacht Spindle was invited to participate in a Mini-Maker Faire in association with the Aspen Ideas Festival where Dougherty spoke as part of the Promise of Play track. Attending the Faire with my co-worker and videographer, Denise Renee Grace, armed with a half a dozen looms and boundless enthusiasm for our technology, we settled in among the mad scientists, robot makers, and ultrasonic cape makers confident in the fact that the loom was the basis for computer technology. What is old is new again.

Not only were the nearly 100 kids, teenagers, parents (mom and dad), and grandparents entranced with making simple woven rag cuffs designed by Denise, the Makers themselves came over and professed their love of the loom and enthusiasticly sat down to weave.  Many were familiar with Jacquard technology and the contribution textiles have made to their field.  Many were looking back in order to move their own technology forward.

The Maker movement has much to share with the weaving community. There is even a sister how-to craft component to their world whose manifesto states, “People get satisfaction from being able to create/craft things because they can see themselves in the objects they make. This is not possible in purchased products.” What weaver would not agree with this?

Dougherty himself owns a floor loom and visited with us many times to ask thoughtful how-to questions about the weaving process and the connection between weave structures and computer programming. If there is a Faire near you, go, see, do!

—Liz Gipson

P.S. My mother and I attended the second Maker Faire in San Francisco back in 2007 and produced a podcast for Interweave, but that has long gone down the rabbit hole. If that surfaces, I’ll share it on another #tbt

Liz Gipson Widgets
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