Art-Science Education Hackers and Govt Support

There are some interesting movements going on over on the mainland that I caught wind of this week:

First – Arts, Science and Makerspaces

The National Endowment For Arts (NEA) blog has a post up on Alt.Art-Sci: We Need New Ways of Linking Arts and Sciences.

“A recent National Science Foundation (NSF)-National Endowment for the Arts workshop sought to re-think the ways that the arts and sciences are being linked today and how the agencies might jointly promote new emerging areas of research and cultural development. Participants included artists, scientists, and research engineers, but also university deans and directors of alternative art-science spaces.”

There are more workshops in the works, including one next year on  “Art as a Way of Knowing”.  Part of the article is on how arts and science/technology have supported each other in the past (Leonardo DV, Gothe, etc.) and sometimes been opposed (artists rejecting tech and technologists not being into art).  Another part is on learning and teaching in non-conventional places (eg maker spaces/community groups vs university).

Personally, I have little artistic skills myself but I greatly enjoy collaborating with artists. I think most of the best projects I’ve worked on were such collaborations.  Tech by itself can be rather stale and lacking.  Artists can add creative vision, pushing the envelope and brining life to a project. Computer animation before Pixar tended to be this way.  There were some very good artists in the biz, but most of the work tended to be flat and unemotional.  Then came that little bouncy lamp, brining in all sorts of classical animation techniques, and Yahoo! it was fun.

I very much look forward to working with artists in our makerspace.  I hope we can establish some good working relations with various existing art communities around the island, like Hui No`eau Visual Arts Center and the Lahaina Arts Society.    Chime in! Refer your friends!

Second – National Fab Lab Network Act of 2010

A bill is working its way through US congress “To provide for the establishment of the National Fab Lab Network to build out a network of community based, networked Fabrication Laboratories across the United States to foster a new generation with scientific and engineering skills and to provide a work force capable of producing world class individualized and traditional manufactured goods.

Full text:

The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. No Hawaiian reps sit on this subcommittee.

I dont know how much I really want a federally sponsored bureaucracy directing Fab Labs and similar spaces.  They want to set one up for each 700,000 people, which is a lot larger than our island. Maybe if its like NEA and NSF giving out grants without jerking the strings, but I dont want to be stuck with their curriculum and testing.   It probably wont get out of committee this year but its something to note.

Lastly – The Atlantic on Hackers

The Atlantic has two related articles up on Hackers and education.  In the September issue Gabriella Coleman’s “The Anthropology of Hackers” talks about the various aspects and influences on the computer hacker culture.  Ms Coleman teaches a class at NYU on the topic and the article reviews her syllabus with links to source material the class reads.  It is well worth the read to help distinguish between types of hackers, and gain insight into origins and influences. However, she only touches on the joy of making and leaves out the entire world of crafting and makers… for now.

The October issue article “School for Hackers” by Mark Frauenfelder (Make Magazine, picks up where Ms Coleman left off.   Mark talks about the DIY movement and educational changes…

“When a kid builds a model rocket, or a kite, or a birdhouse, she not only picks up math, physics, and chemistry along the way, she also develops her creativity, resourcefulness, planning abilities, curiosity, and engagement with the world around her. But since these things can’t be measured on a standardized test, schools no longer focus on them. As our public educational institutions continue down this grim road, they’ll lose value as places of learning. That may seem like a shame, but to the members of the growing DIY schooling movement, it’s an irresistible opportunity to roll up their sleeves.”

Yeah Mark!! He’s my hero.

The Open Manufacturing discussion list has picked up on Mark’s article with a lively conversation.

Update: Two more articles in this vein…

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