Seeing Spaces: Observational Tools for Makerspaces

Seeing Spaces: Observational Tools for Makerspaces

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A typical makerspace is outfitted with many of the tools needed to fabricate an object: laser cutters, 3D printers, drills, mills, welders, soldering irons, and sewing machines. Tools like these are great for putting materials together, but creators also need tools to observe how these objects behave. This is especially true as we make things that have complex behaviors such as robots, machines, musical instruments, and clothing that responds to its environment.


In his talk at The EG conference in May, Bret Victor presented his idea for “seeing spaces,” rooms that give creators tools for observing the behaviors for the things that they make. Outfitted with screens and cameras, a seeing space allows a robot maker to see how small tweaks to the code can have an effect on how it operates. A team can view and display the sensor data a wearable is reporting. It can help a creator see across different possible design alternatives by trying them, recording the outcome, and observing their differences.

“People need to work in a space that moves them away from kinds of non-scientific thinking that you do when you can’t see what you’re doing,” said Bret. “[It] moves them away from blindly following recipes, from superstitions, and rules of thumb. [It] moves them towards deeply understanding what they’re doing, Inventing new things, discovering new things, and contributing back to the global pool of knowledge.” [Thanks, Danne!]

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Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist and Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.

View more articles by Matt Richardson


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