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Re: [ox-en] Fabbers & Global Villages in progress

Thank you,

   I liked the article, thank you.

I seem to recall someone stating previously that the concepts discussed in this forum were only of use to a minority; I think this is a very short-sited view with advances in fabrication technology being one of the main reasons. I suspect it quite likely that a similar social construct will occur once general fab technology is common. The ongoing development of open design templates could benefit from what is being learned now by the software community. I suspect that at some point the line between software and hardware will be fairly blurred... A software application might come with designs for a new piece to your computer... A design for a physical object might include software for it's logic...


Franz Nahrada wrote:

Das MIT ist wieder einmal für eine zukunftsweisende Innovation gut. Bringt
unsere Debatte zur Brötchenfrage sicher um einiges voran und ist einfach
erfrischend zu lesen. Fabber in Globalen Dörfern statu nascendi - und das
nicht als Traum, sondern als laufender Feldversuch!! Dank an Janet Feldman
für die Message und Andrius Kulikauskas für die globale Community, die
solche Messages überbringt.

It is very interesting what we hear from MIT nowadays. Increasingly
meaningful! Our debates about the relevance of the Free Software
Cooperation Mode for changing the face of  material production which were
again brought up by Benni Baemanns text "zur Broetchenfrage" (where do the
little breads come from) will gain a lot from these concrete experiences.
Fabbers in what might emerge as global villages, not as a dream, but as an
ongoing field trial! Thanks to Janet Feldman for the message and to
Andrius Kulikauskas for the global community which conveys those messages.

----- Original Message -----

Mittwoch, 1. September 2004 04:50:40 Uhr
Bulk Message
From:	"Janet Feldman" <kaippg> (via)
Subject:  MIT Fab Lab:  Ghana, USA, India, and Global
"minciu_sodas_EN" <minciu_sodas_EN>
"globalvillages" <globalvillages>
"col-kenya" <col-kenya>
Bcc:		Franz Nahrada

MIT FAB LABS BRING "PERSONAL FABRICATION" TO PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD "In our first full week, we had classes filled to capacity in each time
slot," said CBA program manager Sherry Lassiter, who helped set up the
Ghana fab lab. "What is really lovely to see happens in the evenings when
the older students and the children are in the lab together. The older
students are very generous with their time and gently teach the small
children. Peer to peer training seems to be working quite well."
Credit: Amy Sun, Center for Bits and Atoms, MIT
ARLINGTON, Va. Fluorescent pink key chains may not immediately call to
mind "high-tech," but for students in Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana, key chains
designed and manufactured by their own hands on modern fabrication tools
represents the first link from the high-tech world to the world they live

In July and August, a team from MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms
(CBA)deployed its sixth field "fab lab," based on the campus of the
Takoradi Technical Institute in the sister cities of Sekondi and Takoradi
in Ghana's southwest corner. Members included CBA program manager Sherry
Lassiter, CBA's director, Neil Gershenfeld, and graduate students Amy Sun
and Aisha Walcott. With about $20,000 worth of equipment, a fab lab is a
hands-on laboratory that provides the technology to let people build just
about anything from inexpensive and readily available materials.

The goal of the fab lab is to help people use advanced information
technologies to develop and produce solutions to local problems.

Beyond key chains, the Ghana lab is working on practical projects
including antennas and radios for wireless networks and solar-powered
machinery for cooking, cooling and cutting. Each of these activities was
developed in collaboration with local users, ranging from street children
to tribal chiefs, to address the most important local needs.

"End of second week...enthusiasm as seen in [the] first week has not waned
but increased," Sun wrote in an e-mail from a local Internet cafe.
"Students are taking [or have] just completed their exams and are coming
to the lab begging to take a class or get trained on the equipment.
Begging. No, really, actually begging."

The idea for the fab labs arose from CBA research on the ultimate
"personal fabricator" -- a machine that can make any machine, including
itself -- supported by a "wildly oversubscribed" course at MIT called "How
to Make (Almost) Anything," according to Gershenfeld. CBA is exploring the
interface between computer science and physical science, funded by a
$13.75 million Information Technology Research award from the National
Science Foundation (NSF). "Instead of bringing information technology to
the masses, the fab labs bring information technology development to the
masses," Gershenfeld said.
"For our education and outreach efforts, rather than telling people about
what we're doing, we thought we'd help them do it themselves. We've been
pulled around the world by the voracious demand we've found each time
we've deployed a fab lab." The fab labs provide an accessible
approximation of the tools CBA has on campus, and over time, Gershenfeld
said, components of the labs will be replaced with components made in the labs until eventually the fab labs themselves
are self-reproducing.

Each fab lab comes equipped with computer-controlled fabrication tools,
open-source computer-aided design and manufacturing software and
associated electronic components and test equipment. Capabilities include
a laser cutter for 2-D and 3-D structures, a sign cutter for plotting
interconnects and electromagnetics, a 3-D precision milling machine for
applications such as making surface-mount circuit boards and programming
tools for low-cost, high-speed embedded microcontrollers.
"We are producing key chains by the pocketful," Sun wrote. "At first blush
this might not sound profound; however, most students show up in our lab
with zero to very little computer skills. They so desperately want
fluorescent pink key chains that they eagerly spend hours in the process."
Besides the lack of computer skills and limited Internet connectivity, the
Ghana fab lab highlights other practical challenges in bringing high-tech
to developing areas. For example, with humidity near 100 percent and no
air conditioning, the cardboard, paper and card stock used to prototype
objects turn soggy. And in a country with a 2003 per capita income of
$320, even the cheapest of materials can be hard to come by. One of the
earliest tasks for Sun was to seek out readily available local supplies,
such as veneer wood, coconut tree bark and rubber.

The fab labs around the world use their common capabilities in very
different ways. For example, the fab lab that opened in August 2002 at the
Vigyan Ashram near Pabal in the western part of Maharashtra, India, has
focused on developing agricultural instrumentation. Interests there
include testing milk for quality and safety, and tuning diesel engines to
run more efficiently, particularly with local biofuels. Another fab lab,
in Bithoor in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, (operated in cooperation
with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur) is targeting 3-D scanning
and printing for rural artisans, such as producing the wooden blocks used
in Chikan embroidery by women's cooperatives.

The first international fab lab was established in Cartago, Costa Rica, in
July 2002 at the Costa Rica Institute of Technology. There, undergraduates
mentor local high-school students as they build tools for local
educational, community development and economic challenges. This was
followed in June 2003 by a fab lab far above the Arctic Circle in Solvik
Gård near Tromsø, Norway. In cooperation with engineers from Norway's
Telenor and Finland's UPM-Kymmene, that lab is developing wireless networks and animal radio collars to aid
nomadic herding.

A delegation from the Norwegian fab lab recently visited the flagship fab
lab at Mel King's South End Technology Center in inner-city Boston to
establish a collaboration around their common interest in building
community wireless networks. A high point of this visit was the former
head of the Sami reindeer herders' association singing a traditional
"joik" (folk song) for the audience at a local restaurant. Future
exchanges are planned between these communities.

"The most advanced technologies are needed in some of the least developed
places," Gershenfeld said. The Center for Bits and Atoms and its fab labs
share the goal of "bringing together the best features of the bits of new
digital worlds with the atoms of our physical world."
For more information see: MIT Center for Bits and Atoms: [ ] Fab Labs: [ ]   ###

Bonnie Bracey ( who forwarded this )
[ bbracey ]bbracey
WWWEDU, The Web and Education Discussion Group

Organization: projekt

Organization: projekt

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