Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

ACT1: "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted"

"More than mere consumers of technology, we are makers,
adapting technology to our needs and integrating it into our lives."
-- Dale Dougherty, MAKE, Vol. 1 (February 2005)

"Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted"
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

I really struggled in picking someone for this mission. It's my first mission, you see -- it's easy to feel like everything's at stake. I had a long list of qualities to look for: must take a hands-on approach to their work; must be a personal inspiration; must reach into my (privileged) world enough for me to know of them, but also touch the lives of the needy. Then I looked for other things that matched my own values and aesthetics: a taste for building things, an artistic mindset, and fluid language and outreach skills.

So who would it be? Natalie Jeremijenko, who hacked a bunch of robot dogs to track down soil contamination? Squid Labs and its focus on Engineering For Good? I uncovered Dr. AnnMarie Thomas and a few other creatives, all very good options. (Jane McGonigal was a little too close for comfort.) Most of all, in choosing a hero, I wanted a person who would make me shy and quiet in their presence. Someone I would want to be "when I grow up", at least in an alternate future.

With that prelude, I'm proud to introduce Dale Dougherty, editor for O'Reilly and publisher of MAKE magazine.

MAKE is a subscription magazine with a large, open web community. It collects ideas, instructions, and interviews with people who change or create things, and shows you how to do the same. Basically it has an ethic, a do-it-yourself ethic. And it doesn't care if you're a hardened engineer or a teenage dishwasher: if you can read, it's written for you.

It teaches you a wh*** new way of thinking. When you start opening objects and building others from scratch, you learn that nothing is carved in stone. (Except the things which are carved in stone.) You can start to see everything in front of you as a work in progress, a means to your ends rather than a sealed and finished product. It's hard to describe how powerful that makes you feel. And it's this feeling, along with the set of skills that foster it, that helps create the thirst and energy and resilience to do extraordinary things with very little.

If I could make a difference in the world, I would share this power with everyone in reach. I would like to encourage people all over the world to light LEDs with dead batteries, or give every child a screwdriver and show them how to dissect a Furby. Dale does something better: he fosters a paradise for hackers of every description. Whether you want to mod your bike, build robots, or watch your energy use, MAKE is there for you. And it's not just geeking out with twiddly electronics parts -- of which I am a personal fan -- it's also finding cheap low-resource solutions. Heating water, washing clothes. Growing food.

And this is why I've chosen Dale, out of all the worthy luminaries I could think of.

Dale has a Facebook account where I've sent a Friend request, a blog about his gardens, and a Twitter feed that is open to everyone. However, many of his life-affirming words are found in the magazine, to which I am a happy subscriber.

Because I'm trying to cover all my options (hey, first mission), I'm also writing my hero a brief personal email. If I hear any reply I'll post it here, but I don't want to get your hopes up -- he's a pretty busy guy.

Link cloud:

Views: 65

Comment by Yemisi Ajumobi on March 4, 2010 at 8:38am
Brilliant write- up, now this is one of my favorite things about the EVOKE network. I don't seem to be able to stress it enough that the amount of knowledge share on here is mind-blowing. I find the post to be very resourceful as well, bummer I can only power vote you on 1....off to subscribe to MAKE as well.....Great job on your first entry..keep 'em coming Monica and don't forget to tag your entries with the appropriate title (LEARN1, ACT1,IMAGINE1) :)
Comment by Monica Toth on March 4, 2010 at 3:14pm
I'm delighted to hear you're subscribing to MAKE! Don't worry if it takes you a little while to get off the ground -- you don't need a workshop or even a soldering gun to be inspired in useful ways. I spent months just reading it, and buying lots of espresso in the coffeeshop that always had a copy floating around. :)

I look forward to reading your posts as they come up, and I'll write as fast as I'm able. I spend nine hours at the office every day, and that really drags down my pace. I may have to cut down on my sleep. Be well!
Comment by Adrian Poaca on March 4, 2010 at 4:24pm
Very nice article. After your post, I read a couple of articles from Make magazine and I must admit that I was amazed by all the ideas that I found. Thank you very much. I can honestly say that you help someone, me. :)
Comment by Monica Toth on March 4, 2010 at 4:28pm
Thanks, Adrian! I'll write more as I can. I hope you stick around! I enjoyed your posts and I'm very excited to expand my knowledge of the world in unexpected ways. Let's all take care of that for each other, yes?
Comment by Adrian Poaca on March 4, 2010 at 4:56pm
Definitely. That is a promise.
Comment by David Sahlin on March 4, 2010 at 7:12pm
Ooh, it's a shame I've never had a copy of MAKE in my hands before. I'll keep an eye out for it next time I'm in a bookstore. Good choice!
Comment by Sarah Ashleigh Macqueen on March 4, 2010 at 7:26pm
Thank you for this post - MAKE sounds like a wonderful way to expand my knowlegde base!
Comment by Brett Tomlinson on March 4, 2010 at 7:34pm
Thank you very much for this! I have been looking at the website for an hour now lol!
Comment by Monica Toth on March 4, 2010 at 7:55pm
David, Sarah, and Brett: Thanks very much! It's a pleasure to introduce a little bit of hackery into people's lives. I can't wait to read your posts and see what you have to teach me.
Comment by Brandon Spearman on March 4, 2010 at 9:46pm
This really makes me want to check out MAKE. i like your little link cloud at the bottom as well. it makes it easier for us to research your info!


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