making software, this time

In the aftermath of MADE London I’m spending time online. One of the most frequent questions at MADE was ‘Do you sell online?’. The short answer is no: directly selling my work online really hasn’t worked for me or for buyers, in my recent experience. Why is a long story, perhaps for another post, although I touched on it in Cool Tools. Still, it was nice to get a good review at a new online site, Britain’s Makers.
 
clay manI’m still trying to work out more nuanced ways to mash up material objects and digital development: to use online resources to engage people with craft and its ideas. Ideas like supplying hack spaces with porcelain arms, legs, and faces so that exercises in flashing LEDs and managing motors create a monster with red eyes and scary waving arms – a Turing monster rather Frankenstein’s. The new Director at Mima in Middlesborough talks about integrating this kind of ‘hack space’ with art spaces in his appointment interview.
 
Clay monsterAs part of my prep I’m investigating online learning though courses at FutureLearn. These include thousands of learners worldwide, but this just makes it more interesting. Rather than Shakespeare with Jonathan Bate (just one of their courses) I’m starting with Begin programming through Android Games, which I hope will help me learn about apps as well as Java and JavaScript. Maybe a future app will include claymation of my monsters… So far, so good, although my app consists only of a small red ball at the moment! The course recommends software to install (all free), gives video guides and examples, with the learners themselves sharing additional help and advice.
 
FirstBugAs part of course background they showed the first “Computer bug”. This was documented by Grace Hopper, an early software pioneer, not always remembered. There were of course a lot of undocumented Women in Computing, especially at Bletchley Park, where 75% of the 10,000 workers were women. My favourite story, I think, is that of the film actress and unknown inventor, Hedy Lamarr.
 
Lamarr invented in 1941, with composer George Antheil, an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping. It was considered so vital to national defense that government officials would not allow publication of its details. Used to control torpedoes, it is also the basis of modern Bluetooth, WiFi and other telephony applications. At the time, Lamarr wanted to join the National Inventors Council, but was reportedly told by NIC member Charles F. Kettering and others that she could better help the war effort by using her celebrity status to sell War Bonds. Plus ca change….

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