David Lang, author of Zero to Maker, and co-founder of OpenROV, recently decided to stop doing what he had been doing for years and begin looking for something new, looking for his next adventure. During a pandemic, it seems hard to think about your next adventure. Yet I suspect that many are thinking about what’s next, and preparing ourselves for a new challenge. David says it’s just as scary this time as it was back when he walked into TechShop not knowing anything about being a maker. He seems to be following his interest in science and how scientists can learn from the maker movement.
David Lang thought of making as an adventure, which he talked about in his book, Zero to Maker. He went from someone who knew nothing about making to becoming a maker at TechShop and then, after meeting Eric Stackpole, becoming a co-founder of OpenROV. He worked for many years to create a low-cost platform for underwater exploration.
You might have seen Eric and David at Maker Faire Bay Area standing beside an above ground pool and letting people take turns controlling their underwater robots. Eric and OpenROV were featured on the cover of Make: Vol. 34.
When OpenROV merged with Sofar Ocean, David worked there for a while before deciding last Fall to leave and find something new. He wrote an article about this transition titled “This is an Experiment.”
My favorite part of that decade-long chapter was the beginning: the early days in the garage when we weren’t sure if anything would work, the time spent at TechShop learning how to use new machines, the thrill of meeting others who were in a similar mode of exploration. Of course, that period was hard, too.
David has moved from the Bay Area to Seattle and he wants to live on a wooden boat, even though everybody he talks to discourages him. David talks about the difficulty of starting over again. He is that kind of optimist, someone who doesn’t mind if it’s hard to get where he wants to go — the journey through the unexpected is the adventure.
This conversation was recorded in December 2020. He has been exploring new ways to looking at scientists and what they do, a view that might connect them more closely to makers. He has been interviewing scientists at SciBetter.com to gain insights into how they work and what interests them. He asks some what tabs are open on their browser and some are reluctant to answer. David believes there is a need to encourage participation in science by more amateurs — people who do science because it is an adventure, rather than a career.