Archive for the ‘Apropos Nothing’ Category

Making without Tools or Technology

September 6, 2010

I was listening to one of my favourite internet radio programs, All A Capella at wers.org. I used to listen ‘live’ on the radio when I lived in MA.

It struck me how striped down some kinds of Making can be; talent, voices and collaboration. It’s like ‘glitching’ every instrument and studio technique to a single ‘sound technology’; only the essence remains. The ultimate ‘Unplugged’.

I very much like ‘Kiss from a Rose’, they can sing.

My digging around got started because I heard a superb rendition of Gangsta’s Paradise.

This is a pretty cool piece of A Capella, with video, but I think ‘All A Capella’ played a different version tonight, which sounded better to my ears. It was by University of Pennsylvania Off the Beat.

Many of the performances ‘All A Capella’ feature are college groups. It is great to hear talent, enthusiasm, discipline, ingenuity and ‘cojones’, whatever the sex, are flourishing.

We don’t need computers, Arduinos, blinky-LEDs, reprap, soldering irons, glue-guns, or even duct-tape to make amazing things.

Let’s Make a Difference!

James May’s Airfix kit

October 28, 2009

I’ve just watched James May’s Toy Stories. The first episode was about Airfix plastic model construction kits. He set out to interest a group of 13-year olds in making Airfix model kits. I vividly recall the acetone whiff of polystyrene cement, rekindling my memory of Airfix. I was so buzzed by Jame’s introduction, that I thought it would be good. I was wrong. It was much better than merely good.

His tactics to tempt the teenagers into make Airfix kits were predictable yet surprising. I winced along with every misstep, and fell for every dummy. Beautifully assembled. The kids were amazingly co-operative.

The goal was a dream of every 13 year old Airfix-er of my generation, and better. It was to build a full size, 1:1 scale, Airfix Spitfire kit. Cooler than a Bose–Einstein condensate. I was so pleased, my jaw still aches from an hour-long manic grin. I haven’t wanted TV, or a movie, to work out right so much since “The Shawshank Redemption”. The climax was inspired.

The 13-year olds were stars, and did a great job under the pernickety eye of a ‘benign, but obsessive codger’ (I hope James doesn’t mind this characterisation, but that’s his TV persona, and neither of us are at all bad :-). The prospective builders reactions were illuminating. I felt it a worthwhile watch for folks trying to develop projects with teenagers.

I beg every fan of Airfix kits to watch this. You may even be delighted at the use of your BBC TV license fee! May I be even more gushing and say ‘heart warming’? (Yes, I liked Airfix kits).