I am going to start with a rant. I am amazed at what I see every day – and assume you all see it too. As I commute, at every stop light other drivers pull out their phones to text or look at the Internet (and don’t get me started on how many do this while actually driving!). During the school year, I see kids and parents at bus stops, all with their heads bent over their phone screens. Even out at restaurants it seems that it is more unusual to see people talking to each other than interacting with their phones.
I am no Luddite and I do think our connectedness is a really great thing. I realize too the irony of saying this online. I also look at the Internet every day. I listen to podcasts and books in my car too. I even watch TV and read books! What concerns me is that we are becoming consumers of others’ creations much more than creators ourselves. This is my call to look up from your screen and create something. Wait until you finish reading the rest of this blog of course.
Over the last couple years, I have started “making.” For those who have not heard of this, the Maker movement is just about working with your hands and creating things – electronics, art, wood- and metalworking, whatever. 3D printers are a great example of putting Maker tools in the hands of people. There are also low cost electronic components like Arduino. I have a couple of these and with open source software, it’s easy to actually create physical effects like turning things on and off and I am learning about electronics and programming. For Christmas last year I made a bunch of little pocket notebooks for my family. They were rough and a bit of a mess, but I had fun and was proud to give them something that took time and not just money. Yes, it was my version of arts and crafts.
My grandfather had a hardware store in Detroit. When we would visit I loved to hang out there. People would come in with a broken . . . something (toaster, pipe, window) and would find the parts there to fix it. It was a bit of a challenge. Now half of the things we use just get tossed when they break or we tire of them. I think we have lost a little something as we have lost our comfort with tools and struggling to get something working again.
Of course, creating does not have to be about something physical. YouTube is another way that you can become a creator of content. The barriers to put your creations out in the world are nearly gone. Maybe you will be responsible for some of those bent necks, but at least you will be creating content vice just consuming it. I plan to create some videos for some of my productivity content soon.
My challenge to all of us is to create something and then share it with the world. I am going to do that this coming weekend and will post another blog post about it. If you want to share your creation with me I will post a link here. One good place to start might be Instructables. I think you will enjoy the challenge and the sense of accomplishment as well.
Now, go make it happen,
PS -- this site is now thomasmstrong.com and my email is firstname.lastname@example.org . The website will be updated over the Labor Day weekend and some additional content will be coming your way!