I am usually ok with ambiguity, I am also ok going to the wall, far beyond the levels most will go before giving up. It is a very uncomfortable feeling where you have to question your sanity, no matter how many facts are lined up, tests are done, and you have a path for an idea or projects. What the world tends to like is a known, comfortable, predictable path called life. Perhaps that is why there are so few inventors? I really don’t know.
So today, I am in a place where I look to the sky and ask, “ok god, so what would you like me to do?” it is not that there isn’t plenty to do or a plate of excellent ideas that can benefit and help people in some way. I think it is part of grief with dad meeting bad icky weather, and I have to organize and come up with solutions to make the ideas reality in less than optimal conditions. Add to that, a few of these ideas are going into the market in product form, so you need to have the cash flow to absorb that growth.
Last night I was in the local maker space where I was saddened, in that the group that really knows how to make things and has bootstrapped the maker movement reminds me more of the chess club or the nerds I would hang out in school. Socially awkward, but you could not ask for a better group of people to build a space that actually functions. I have been poking around the local market looking for CNC routers, milling machines, and a big laser – and it is fantastic how the universities here supposedly have them – but they are like many other make spaces in higher education – underutilized and pretty expensive baubles to get more grants or donations.
We have a design for mobile make space that might end up being what we do – I just don’t’ know exactly what I am going to do if one makes a global version, and you have the power issues. With shows, we would take our own generators around the planet as building power across the world is very interesting, particularly in the areas where black and brownouts were common to everyday life (that you professor Ahene for teaching me about macro and microeconomics and me finally grasping the ideas while doing shows in South America)
I digress. After a few years of a lot of work and seeming oddity in the USA market with trying not to get sucked into the greed of certain markets, we are at a place where I can fabricate our own product and rely on no one else. It isn’t that I wanted or desired this, but rather, I am done waiting for others to get on board. What usually happens is when it launches, everyone and their brother comes out of the woodwork to try to get in on low hanging fruit. It is something I see more and more in the business markets that are built more on hype than reality. While I do not wish ill on anyone, the reality of watching the WeWork IPO unfold gives me some hope that the markets might turn from unicorns into reality.
After visiting the maker space and seeing how much work this group of exciting folks has done, I realized I can prototype and bash here. The very nice and costly machines I love to use are a few hours away, but when you are in a prototype, you tend to want the freedom to spend more on variations that travel and lodging time. There is a nice benefit of working with deep-pocketed organizations in that you don’t have so much stress, but I wonder if it diminishes or takes away that survival or hunger issue to push through with new ideas? I can make a list of the pros and cons of each way of doing it. What I am trying to think of is if there is some happy medium in life with it all? When you think of a balanced and happy life, odds are you will never be an inventor. When you think of taking yourself to your full human potential, you will have to take the time to balance yourself out and then work. I am working hard on the later as if you are just pushed ahead on your strengths, your weaknesses become more significant and detrimental. Large organizations counter this with the deep pockets. Small, nimble organizations have to rely more on sticking to fundamentals and doing them well. This is not to say that large organizations can walk away from their fundamentals, but over time, it astounds me how the systems work. For example, last night I was with about 15 people that probably collectively can make almost anything. They were lamenting that larger organizations have the pull, contacts, grant writers, and get the funding for ideas that don’t really get used.
In the united states, it is one of the few countries where if you have an idea, you can try. While there are barriers to entry, if you want, you have the freedom to try. It is a great thing to have in life. The downside is that inside academia, it still astounded me how conservative and political the organizations are. The reality of the circular or shared economies will rely on people having a different mindset than the old “winner take all” mentality that has been highlighted from the internet with a few giant companies controlling a great deal of how we communicate and interact in life. The American model really hasn’t come to grips that Asia leapfrogged us with mobile technologies, and they also build it all. In the USA, we consume…lots
With that in mind, I think I am writing myself into clearing the fog of my brainstorm. What and how to proceed with the ideas? The issue is how to do what we do well, and the fundamentals are about solutions to problems (thankfully we have ONE are we will specialize in that can affect a large portion of ideas and the market) but the large organization are sucking up the top tier of talent, and at the lower levels, I see a bit of a divide with quality and abilities. That chasm is widening. I applaud the apprentice models in Switzerland and Germany and lament that in the USA, our trades have been diluted so severely. While the market has changed in how things can be built and work, there is still the need for skilled people to operate all the machines and keep the old infrastructure running. While a blank slate is terrific to play with, usually, there are constraints with existing elements that place limits.
One of the young men was chatting away about how he learned CNC routing and milling. He mentioned a place I googled that was the apprentice group in town, and he said, “they had to shut it down. It wasn’t that there weren’t the kids that wanted to learn about a certain trade, but they could not do the math required for the future systems.”
“are you kidding me?”
“no man, kids have an interest, but they don’t want to work a bit harder.”
So, I came home knowing that using workarounds, I could make a few different product prototypes come to life in the space. What saddened me was that higher education seems to ostracize the very group they claim to want to help, or their focus is so finite, that it is like NGO’s in the 3rd world who can’t apply common sense in assisting people in because their focus is so narrowly mandated, and the people in the west don’t understand the reality of life in a 3rd world. (I am scratching my head, as this is the world experience you can’t learn in a book, that you learn by actually doing…all over the planet…then you come back to one town, that have done things one way, and when you ask “why?” you are branded some troublemaker)
This is the problem I see in higher education. We are the only developed nation where we have to pay to get an education. I am going to see about enrolling in school again, not that I want any new digress. My goodness, the online MOOG courses allow you to learn pretty much about anything – but what they lack are the tools and the hands-on resources. In 10-25 years, a lot of what I am talking about will be obsolete. You will be able to design in a computer and then push a button and voila…perfect things, with fewer flaws, and higher tolerances will come out of the building machines of the future. What will people do? I pray the convenience of extra time will allow people to create, invent, build, dream, and spend the time growing.
My fear is the programming that is being subtly put in place is to get people to consume. Just sit, watch, consume, and then talk about it.
As for what appears to be “widowers’ row” being the street with a rash of men dying this year, I was thrilled to get images of a freshly born “Charles” from my cousin last night. It is a funny cycle…life to death…to life.
Not one clue what I rambled about this morning, but there was a clearing of some fog and a possible pathway to overcoming the ambiguity in my mind. Hopefully, you didn’t get a headache trying to read it.