The Hello World Program would like to invite you to a Robot Puppet Party at the Maker Faire Bay Area next month. I caught up with the guys behind Hello World, brothers Jared and JR, at their home/workshop in Los Angeles this week. Hello World has been running for about a year, building a library of video tutorials on a variety of open source tech topics, narrated by handmade puppets. Guido the Python teaches the Python programming language, of course, while the robot Unique ID discusses robotics, circuitry and the basics of object-oriented programming. Currently under construction is a new fox puppet who will be in charge of HTML tutorials.
One of the things I love about the project is that their video tutorials also include instructions on how to make your own puppets; it’s a lovely blending of tech-focused topics and more craft-based activities. The site also has a poetry corner, where Guido recites playful reinterpretations of classic poems in the spirit of the Python language. Jared credits part of their shared childhood as the inspiration behind the project: their father was an early adopter of the video camera, so they both spent their youth creating homemade movies. Their adult careers have shifted into the tech space, so when they thought about how to best share their technical knowledge, they fell back on the childhood film-making chops.
At Maker Faire, visitors will get a chance to play with the puppets first-hand and create their own movies. The brothers’ plans have shifted a bit since their original application. Instead of focusing on kids making puppets, the activity will center around the puppet-based performances. Jared and JR are hard at work churning out an array of robot puppets for Faire visitors to select from, as well as a stage to perform on. Jared is using his day-job skills as an exhibit technician for the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles to make the puppets robust enough to stand up to two long days of use at the Faire. JR, a PHP developer by day, is writing a program to generate unique narrations: each performer will fill in a series of mad-lib style boxes, which will then be used to generate a script displayed to the performer behind the stage. Parents and friends will videotape the resulting robotic renditions. Be sure to look for Hello World at the Bay Area Faire and let loose your inner robot!