There’s a saying that I like, that I’ve used in several instances (such as in the intro to the Maker’s Notebook): “Keep modeling difference.” In cybernetics, difference is information (information is “news of difference”). Difference is change, difference is an antidote to stasis, difference is where learning takes place. Last year, I titled my Dorkbot DC presentation about Maker Faire Austin ’07: A World of Difference, because I realized that that’s what we trade in at these fairs: so much creative, outside the box, innovative thinking that serves as an antidote to mainstream Blob culture. You can’t come away from these fairs without being changed, without being inspired to reach beyond yourself, if even just a little.
At every Maker Faire, the MAKE editors are given the honor of presenting Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbons to their ten favorite things at the fair. I always try and give away a few ribbons to makers who I think are painting outside the lines of Maker Faire itself. There’s always the risk of difference becoming the same (if you know what I mean). So, one of my “marching to the tune of their own drummer” awards this year went to Kris and Carly DeGreave.
Walking through the Show Barn on Sunday late afternoon, tired and hungry, Blue Ribbons in hand, I came upon a table with a Monopoly board and some electrified chotzky on it. Sitting behind it were two lovely young women wearing impressive amounts of pink (including their hair) and plastic bling. They looked like punk cheerleaders, living Cute Overload. I would later discover that one of them, Carly, uses the handle dresslikecake on Flickr. That sums them up to a T. Kris and Carly dress like cake! I looked over the stuff on their table as they described it to me. The Monopoly board had working street lights on it and squares that lit up when your playing pieces landed on them and complete the circuit. They also had fiber-optic porcupines(?) on the table and some other fun, crafty electronics projects.
“Are you guys part of some school or group,?” I asked, not sure how these two fit in. “No,” Carly said, “we just do this for fun!” I looked down at their Faire placard and read that they are sisters. “Wait, you two are sisters and you sit around doing electronics projects, just for fun?” I looked into a spangled sea of candy-colored cuteness and two bright, satisfied smiles. “Oh you guys are SO getting a Blue Ribbon!,” I exclaimed, as I fetched my next-to-last one from the envelope. They might not have had the most innovative or complex or time-consuming projects at the Faire, but they certainly were modeling mad amounts difference.
So, here’s to girly-girls who do electronics, manly-men who craft and sew, housewives who take up welding, conservative types who build wacky art cars, left-brained people who take up art, right-brained people who explore math and engineering, and anyone else who strives to keep learning and changing, living outside the lines and transcending perceived limitations. Because difference does make a difference.