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Makers love sharing ideas and are quick to adopt new and better ways for sharing them. At my public library job I spend a lot of my day explaining things. Sometimes I find myself explaining the same thing over and over again and it seems more efficient if I would just create a referable video to better propagate understanding.

Two years ago several community members asked me to explain Twitter to them. They didn’t want to know how to use Twitter; they wanted to understand what Twitter is. So I gave each of them my best understanding of Twitter’s essence and afterwards I decided I ought to give a short “TED talk” in my public library to help further spread this understanding. Sometimes my job gets busy and I don’t always have the time to give a complete explanation, yet every question deserves the best possible answer.

So I could have asked the library managers permission to give a talk in the library, but I decided to go a different route. I decided to set up my camcorder a day or two later — when the library was closed — and give my talk to an imaginary audience.  I could then post the talk to YouTube and refer anyone to it.

Makers relish mischief, so soon after hatching this plan I realized I wanted to add an applause track from an actual TED talk to my talk to an empty library. Being fairly good at using screencasting software (to capture audio and video) and the Audacity sound editor (to fade audio in or out), I rubbed my hands in glee at the prospect of this fun project. After shooting the video in a single, unrehearsed take and splicing in the applause track, here is the end result. Now anyone who is interested can understand Twitter in the way that I do.

My understanding of Twitter is still forming, so I’m also interested in hearing how other people understand Twitter. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Dewey Decimal number assigned for “Understanding Twitter,” so that I, and other people interested in Twitter, could easily follow other people’s ideas on this topic? We’re living in a world of metadata deficiency. The world of ideas is insufficiently described. We must change that. We must put on our inventor’s cap. Who better to do that than makers?

What I learned from this project is that there is a joy to giving a talk when the ideas you’re sharing stir your soul. If I had waited a month to give this talk, I might not have been able to recreate the same passion for the ideas I wanted to explain. Passion is fleeting. At all times we must seek better ways of capturing and sharing it.

Makers relish spontaneity. It’s our preferred way of doing things. “Let’s do it now.” That’s our credo. Good ideas should not be deferred. We should be spreading this credo outside the maker movement, as well. In a rapidly changing world, if we’re not ready to act spontaneously, then we may be missing out on many golden opportunities. Instead of missing opportunities, we should be bottling them and passing them around.

Phil Shapiro

Phil Shapiro is a maker and media maker in the Washingon DC area. He loves open sourcedigital storytelling and fixing up donated computers to deliver to people who need them. He can be reached at pshapiro@his.com and on Twitter @philshapiro.


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