During my time at the World Science Festival this year I had the opportunity to hear a couple presentations on different topics. I enjoyed most but one presentation in particular rubbed me the wrong way. Normally I would just ease over the rough parts and pluck out the gems but in this case I think the rough parts deserve some attention.
The specific presentation was titled “Mentoring Makers: What’s Wrong with DIY.” In his presentation professor Neil Gershenfeld made a few provocative statements. In essence he feels DIY is, at its core, wrong. The DIY culture leads to the reinvention of past mistakes and doesn’t do enough to mentor young people. As evidence he cites the design of a popular 3D printer which uses wood and screws to compose the body. This design, he says, is faulty. Over time the wood dries out and the screws or bolts loosen. It’s a flaw that has been solved by large firm manufacturers long ago.
His disdain for 3D printers in general was quite evident and extended far beyond the materials used in their construction. His entire presentation was punctuated by the repeated refrain “I hate 3D printers!” He makes a good point that 3D printers aren’t the end-all of home custom fabrication. CNC machines, laser cutters and even basic lathes are all very powerful tools that are more efficient for some designs. A 3D printer, he states, should only be used for designs which are too complex to be made any other way.
While his point is valid on the face of efficiency, a 3D printer allows for a wider array of shapes and objects to be produced at a lower cost and smaller space than an entire workshop of machines. To me the usefulness of the machine is self-evident and shouldn’t be discounted on the basis that it’s not the best tool for all jobs.
This year was my first time attending World Science Festival in New York City and I was quite impressed with the variety of events for all ages. I didn’t get to participate in all the events or attend many talks but those I was able to make were diverse and interesting.
My introduction to WSF started with a screening of Icarus at the Edge of Time narrated live by LeVar Burton. I had won 2 tickets the night before and with such short notice, I didn’t have much of a chance to find someone to go. As luck would have it, my boss was a big enough fan of LeVar that he was an easy sell! We both quite enjoyed the experience, held at the amazing United Palace Theater, though it was quite evident the show was meant for a much younger crowd. On the way to the theater from the subway we managed to collide with a family awkwardly looking around for the right way to go. As we all made our way I got lost in a small conversation with mother. The entire family had come for the event because her young son loves physics and science and asked to go! She said there was no way she could turn him down. If I knew how to nominate her for mother of the year, I would have on the spot!
Innovation Square – NYU/Poly at MetroTech, Brooklyn, NY
On Saturday I hopped on the subway and headed to Brooklyn where the NYU/Poly MetroTech campus was playing host to Innovation Square – another family friendly event with booths for people of different ages and interests. Though there were a limited number of exhibits this just made it easier to visit each a few times during the day. I liked to see how people interacted with exhibits and hear the kinds of questions that were asked. At least, that’s the surface explanation. Some exhibits were just so interesting I couldn’t help but revisit them to get a better look as the crowds shifted.
The week before last I had the opportunity to attend the VSLive NY conference in Brooklyn. I’ve never been particularly conference-oriented – I’m always asked rather than asking to attend – mostly out of anxiety from the travel or being thrown into a large crowd of people I don’t know. VSLive NY was a very positive experience for me. It was a local conference, which is one of the most important reasons I moved to NYC in the first place, and it was the first time I attended a conference with an eye toward architectural concepts. VSLive really delivered.
I had a blast at this conference! I was initially concerned many of the sessions might be too introductory but it gave me an opportunity to listen to audience questions about the material and really get a feel for how information is absorbed. I took the opportunity to see how I could be a better presenter myself. Though I haven’t needed to do large presentations like those at a conference, I do have to do internal trainings. In fact I have to do a series of presentations on the things I picked up from VSLive!
A coworker of mine will be presenting at the next Capital Area .Net Users Group on Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 7:00PM in Vienna, VA. His presentation will be about new features in Entity Framework 4. Having used EF 1 (introduced in the .NET Framework 3.5 SP 1) for a small production web application I encountered a lot of quirks. Steve will be discussing how things have changed.
For those on the MD side he’s giving the same talk on November 2, 2010 at 6:30PM at the Central Maryland Associate of .Net Professionals at the HCC Business Training Center in Columbia, MD.
Also note that the CAPAREA.NET Special Interest Groups (Silverlight and SharePoint) will be moving location to Arlington, VA near the Court House metro stop. The current location will remain the home for the main user group meetings. Only the special interest groups are moving.
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A new coworker (the one I tech screened and prompted my call for Tech Screen ideas) reminded us about CMAP Code Camp Fall 2010. Details follow.
CMAP Code Camp Fall 2010 Is Here!
The Central Maryland Association of .NET Professionals (CMAP) is holding its Fall 2010 Code Camp on Saturday, November 6th, 2010 at the Loyola University Maryland Graduate Center in Columbia, MD.
The Code Camp will run from 8:30am – 5:30pm with 20-25 awesome sessions covering a wide range of database, software and portal development topics. It’s totally free. No gimmicks. No sales pitches. Enjoy breakfast and lunch at no charge while you mingle with your peers.
Code camps are a great way to pick up new knowledge and ideas as well as meet people who do what you do. I would stop short of calling it a networking function only because I don’t much care for those. But the learning! Oh, the learning!
Still not selling it? Um…Free Food?
Posted in Event