Friday, July 29, 2011

My Friday Night

What do you do on a hot summer night when you and your wife trend toward the introverted personality type?

We connected the laptop to the flat screen and watched TED Talks!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Creativity Summit a success + fundraising

Congrats and many thanks to our fine former Mayor of Tulsa, the honorable Rodger Randle.  The day which he and his comrades (Kevin O'Connor and Philbrook notably) organized was a great success with over 150 registrants and a day of stimulating conversation.  The topics ranged from art to theatre to education to business.

My talk on Fab Lab's was well received.  Our panel on rating Tulsa's creativity involved an artist, a journalist, a poet and myself.  Being one of the few technology guys in the room was a bit daunting but altogether exciting.

I can't say enough good things...the keynote speaker Nate Bliss, the lunch speaker Robert Sternberg, and the afternoon speaker Randall Suffolk were fantastic.  I was really struck by a statement by Randall, which was this "If you dislike change, you're going to hate irrelevance."

This really struck a nerve with me in my life, especially launching a new organization and plowing new ground in Tulsa.  It's all about relevance, and one of the chief motivations of our Fab Lab Tulsa team is to make our fair city and state more relevant in the days and years to come.

In closing, the event was great and I was honored to participate in the first one.  For a great audio piece, here's a link to a radio story on the event here.  Note that I can't control this audio link and I don't know how long it will be available.

Oh, yeah...if you want to come visit Fab Lab Tulsa, contact me.  My digits and email are on our website.  I'm always happy to give tours, especially if you're interested in making a donation!

Friday, July 22, 2011

My first Fab Lab Tulsa project!

So you may recall that my first real Fab Lab Tulsa project will be a carpet box for my daughter.  She's learning to crawl and walk and it'll be a great thing for her to shuffle up to and use to balance herself.  I'll cover it in shag carpet so she can grip it easily. 

Here's a picture of my simple 3D design below, along with a picture of the small scale cardboard prototype (made with laser cutter).  The next step is using the Shopbot!

Fab Lab Tulsa Interior Pics

So here's a round of pictures from the inside Fab Lab Tulsa.  Enjoy!

Go here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Smart Tulsa, David Eagleman and the Philbrook Cats

So first, let me say WOW!  Fab Lab Tulsa hosted Book Smart Tulsa last night at the lab.  It wasn't our grand opening or anything but it was the first time we've really let the public into the lab before our grand opening later this year.  Get ready...there were an estimated 200 people at Fab Lab Tulsa last night!  The Fab Lab Tulsa team was so pleased and excited by both the response from our community and from Book Smart Tulsa.  Many thanks.

Again, WOW...the author, David Eagleman, was a great speaker.  He's a world renowned neuroscientist.  He was engaging, funny and well worth the time.  His book, Incognito, has been on the NYT best seller list for 30 days now.  Tulsa was city number 29 on a 30 city tour.  His final stop was NYC for a talk and a date with Steven Colbert on the Colbert Report.  See David's PBS promo clip here.

I had a chance to talk with him beforehand and he's a really nice guy.  Really smart too.  And he was totally intrigued by Fab Lab Tulsa.  His neuroscience lab is in Houston and he was a little disappointed that there's no Fab Lab Houston (yet).

All in all, I think Tulsa made a great first impression.  Kudos to Jeff Martin, Book Smart Tulsa and the whole Fab Lab Tulsa team.

Finally, I also learned about the Philbrook Cat Cams last night.  Apparently there are couple cats on the Philbrook Museum grounds which are now wearing little cameras on their necks.  I thought that was a pretty fun idea.  To see them go to YouTube and search for "Philbrook Cat".

More thoughts on creativity

As I continue preparation for the Tulsa creativity summit, I'm thinking more about the "ingredients" for creativity than I am about the products of creativity.  Products might include, but are not limited to:
  • patent filings and awards
  • business start-ups
  • art galleries and shows
  • live music shows
  • museums
  • theater productions
I'm trying to assemble a list of what it takes to spur creativity, which is not nearly so obvious.  I've done a little reading lately on the topic and here are some musings, just for fun...
  1. Creativity, I believe, is a process through which people solve an identified it an abstract problem, an aesthetic problem, an industrial problem or mere boredom.  So then, an ingredient of creativity would be the existence of interesting or compelling problems.  Oklahoma (fortunately or not) has an abundance of those.
  2. Effective tools, skills or intuition for identifying the root causes of problems.
  3. A "go for it" attitude.  Creativity bears fruit in action.
  4. Failure tolerance.  Taking calculated risks...again and again and order to really "go for it".  It's about getting the support you need to try one more time after things fall apart.
  5. Opportunities to act upon creative instincts.  In my case, it would Fab Lab Tulsa...which is so much more than a place to collaborate.  Fab Lab Tulsa is a place to turn ideas into reality.  If you're supposed to "go for it" then you've gotta have a place to do that.
That's all for now.  I'm a little tapped out after an amazing Book Smart event last night.  See the next post!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

3D Printer installed!

Our Objet Eden 333 3D printer has been installed.  We had some snafus with a busted print head, and the system only works with Windows XP 32-bit, but it's nearly ready for use.

Start dreaming Tulsa...then design your ideas and come print them at Fab Lab Tulsa!

While all of our other computers and equipment can be used freely, our 3D printer will require some additional cost considerations.  Resin is expensive, and its not geared for mass production.  We don't know what it'll cost yet but we're working out an arrangement for users.

Maybe users can print something small for free, while larger designs will be priced at cost (plus a nominal handling fee)?  We're not sure yet, but feel free to offer your comments.  We'll figure it out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

More on creativity + ShopBot + 3D Printer

The website for Tulsa's Creativity Summit was just launched here.  Register now.  Looks to be a fun day hosted at Circle Cinema.

So Fab Lab Tulsa's shopbot is up and running now.  It took a few days longer than expected because the electrician who helped do the renovation was rather busy.  All that said, it's operational.  We're just squaring the machine and getting it set-up.

We're really lucky...who knew there was Shopbot user community in Tulsa, OK?  I didn't.  It turns out there are quite a few local users, one of whom is already developing beginning, intermediate and advanced classes for us.  His name is Dana Swift...when you meet him thank him for his help.

Lastly, our Objet 3D Printer arrived yesterday.  It's still in the crate because Objet is really strict about the set-up.  That should be done next week.  It's a pretty sweet piece of equipment and I'm exciting to begin using it.  By the way, I've been remiss...I need to recognize Engatech...they're a local engineering consulting firm who also sells Objet printers.  They made an amazing contribution by arranging for the donation of our 3D Printer!  Isn't that awesome?!  Special thanks to Clay Slaton and his team.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Rating Creativity - the Coffee Shop Index

I've recently been invited as a panelist for local creativity conference in Tulsa, OK, home of Fab Lab Tulsa.  The conference is spearheaded by former Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle, now a professor at OU-Tulsa and director of the Center for Studies in Democracy and Culture.  The conference is July 27 and is intended to help describe, recognize and rate creativity in a civic setting.  My part is to help rate Tulsa's creativity.

So I've started thinking about how to rate an area's creativity and was inspired by this TED Talk by Steven Johnson.  In this video clip, he makes the point that creativity is slow and messy...his quote is that, with regard to creativity, "chance favors the connected mind."  He uses a quip about the first coffee house in London to make his point, coffee shops being generally "the 3rd space" in which people congregate and share ideas.  The other two spaces being home and work.  I don't drink coffee but my wife does and I've been to a number of coffee shops.

So how does this relate to creativity?  Are coffee shops a predictor of creativity?  I thought it might be neat to develop a coffee shop index, a simple quantitative study of the number of coffee shops per capita in a given metropolitan statistical area.  You could then rank metro areas, those with more coffee shops regarded as more creative.  Of course this is totally unscientific and really just for fun but I believe the essence holds true...the more spaces where people can interact, the more ideas can be exchanged and the more connections people can make.

Steven Johnson did a pretty thorough historical study to draw his conclusions.  My reading, including that on Alexander Graham Bell and telephone, plus this article here, lead me to similar conclusions.  Mr. Johnson says that chance favors the connected mind.  I suggest that there are really no totally original ideas; there are too many people on the planet and it's almost guaranteed that someone has your idea why not collaborate rather than compete.  If Bell had collaborated with the 1/2 dozen or so others who claim to have invented the phone at about the same time then we might have had iPhones 25 years ago!

OK, so here's the Coffee Shop Index ratings for Tulsa, OK USA:

City [People per Coffee Shop]
  1. San Francisco, CA [134]
  2. Seattle, WA [298]
  3. Portland, OR [299]
  4. Boston, MA [313]
  5. Denver, CO [374]
  6. Austin, TX [383]
  7. Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN [719]
  8. Kansas City, MO [742]
  9. Tulsa, OK [858]
  10. Oklahoma City, OK [921]
  11. Wichita, KS [965]
  12. Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX [1,137]
  13. Little Rock, AR [1,284]
My methods were pretty simple and, again, unscientific.  I used wikipedia to find the population of the given metro areas.  I used Google Maps to find the location then search for "coffee shop" on the map.  Any web listing which would've said coffee probably showed up.  For all I know, some tatoo parlor sold Starbuck's iced mocha from a vending machine and it appeared on my search for "coffee shop".  See, it wasn't scientific.  I did make sure that the map scales and zoom were roughly equivalent between metro areas so that similar land areas would show up in the search.  I did the best I could.

In the end, are you really surprised by the results?  I'm not.  With a little more precision, this index could be made a lot more robust.  BTW, the DFW and San Fran MSA's report almost equivalent populations of about 6.5 million.

Coffee anyone?

Whether or not you drink coffee, come to Fab Lab Tulsa...the newest and coolest place to collaborate, design, invent and have fun!