Making It Matter

3D print

First attempt at 3D printing. Nothing exploded.

I had never heard of the term “maker culture” until mid-last year. Curious to find out what it meant, I attended a few events across the city geared at DIY types. First there was Mozilla’s Maker Party, which is a global campaign to teach the inner workings of the web. Then, at the Toronto Mini Maker Faire, I signed up for an introduction to 3D design workshop run by MakeLab and produced my first 3D print. When the holiday season arrived, City of Craft and Vendor Queens were hosting meet-the-maker craft fairs and community art markets showcasing products that local independent designers created. It wasn’t easy to find these makers groups before. Some were professionals within the art, design, science and technology realms, while many were self-taught hobbyists. Even though I am not part of the maker scene, what inspired me most was seeing other people with little training displaying their passion projects.

You can make websites. You can make apps. You can make robots. You can make games. You can make music. You can make films. You can make books. You can make cards. You can make posters. You can make clothes. You can make accessories. You can make food. You can make a mess. You can make friends who share similar interests or simply find people who were already making the things you’d like to make.

And making matters because it’s about showing and discovering what you can do and not waiting for permission to do it. (Or in some cases, building something or else it won’t ever exist.) Everyone can learn how to create. That, I think, is what maker culture is all about.


On Selling Yourself

No, not on eBay. I’m talking about getting yourself noticed by people who don’t know you — but really should because you’re bright, intelligent and going to change the world, right? Right!

Over in the iSchool bubble, I’ve been hearing a lot of references to the “one-minute elevator speech.” It’s a take on a type of business pitch and goes a little something like this:

Picture yourself entering an elevator in a tall building. You’re on the ground floor. Someone important walks in. Maybe it’s the head librarian of the place you’d love to work or a potential client you’d like to woo. Maybe it’s a mother-in-law. Whoever you choose, they are heading to the top floor and you’ve now got one minute to get them to remember you. Your must grab their attention. They should know who you are, what it is that you do, and why it is important. Essentially, this presentation could be used in any situation, like a job interview.

While social media is great for (un)friending people who work in the field, face-to-face networking takes a lot of practice. That and confidence. The advantage of connecting to others in person, though, is that they can’t just click Mute, Ignore or Delete on you. What was once a norm is now a perk of the non-virtual reality.



It’s only the second week of school and I’ve got 150+ pages of readings and an assignment due in eight days. So please forgive me if the blogging slows down. I am but a slave to the system that is Higher Education.

Anyway, the past week I learned what makes a good reference librarian (apparently it requires more than smiling and pointing at books), why technology is like a door (this is an analogy that will make eventually sense and somehow result in me being a better librarian), that Wikipedia is a trustworthy source of information [citation needed], and how many subway trains pass by OISE every two hours (about 30).

A few other neat things to share:

1. We’re no longer restricted to conducting highly organized, anti-fun presentations on PowerPoint, thanks to PREZI.

Watch About Perspective by Adam Somlai-Fischer

(Press autoplay or take control by clicking play again and again and again.)

2. ALA seems to think “hipster librarians” exist. This really should be marked under ‘miscategorized.’

3. I’ve started journalismisizing again. So please pick up a copy of The Varsity when you can. It’s published every Monday and Thursday, and I can assure you that it’s better than the 10 other campus papers, as well as your homework.

4. But if you really need to stalk/see me this month, come out on Sunday to The Word on the Street book and magazine festival at Queen’s Park. I will be volunteering at the Print is Dead Sony Reader Lounge.


the feed

Ian Brown RRJ
  • RRJ coverboy and Globe writer Ian Brown will be hosting a discussion series called the Writer’s Room with Ian Brown next Wednesday for the launch of the Bram and Bluma Appel Salon at the Toronto Reference Library. His first interviewee is none other than jPod author Douglas Coupland. [TPL]
  • Filing a complaint has never been so easy as Toronto adopts a new contact number next week. Write this down: 311. [National Post]
  • Amish romance novels are a hit in the Amish world. And it just goes to show that even G-rated smut sells. [The Wall Street Journal]
  • The Walrus finally has some money in the bank. Going straight to the writers, not the interns, of course. [J-Source]
  • And the award for Most Ridiculous Use of Research Funds to ‘Discover’ What Everyone Already Knows goes to a recent study that found that poor kids were less likely to apply to university than richer kids. [Toronto Star]