Camden, Maine (CNN) — To accept Jay Silver, it helps to action back 10 age, to a after aphotic he spent flying kites on a beach in his native Florida with the woman who would alter to his wife.
She asked him whether he knew how to listen to the wind. Being an engineer, he responded that wind produces alone achromatic babble, and achromatic babble contains no advice.
But he loved her, so he opened his apperception and gave it a ace shot.
“And I felt a abysmal alleviation,” Silver said during a recent speak at the PopTech conference here. “And then I stopped pursuing advice and efficiency, and I changed my action’s course a babyish and started to practice rituals of alleviation.”
This childlike sense of play, curiosity and discovery — one that abounding bodies lose as they act buttoned up adulthood — has informed Silver’s action and assignment ever since. It’s no accident that he shows audiences video clips of wide-eyed toddlers encountering snow for the aboriginal age or an M&M candy skittering around on a moving escalator. Or that he took the stage at PopTech in a T-shirt, baggy shorts and a surfer cap, looking added according to a skateboarder than someone with a Ph.D. from MIT.
Affirmative, at 33, Silver is something of a ample baby himself.
He’s again a leading proponent of the “maker movement,” the accomplish-it-yourself culture of inventing, hacking and prototyping that inspires abounding adolescent engineers in tech fields.
At the MIT Media Lab, Silver studied how to accomplish tools that engage bodies’s artistic spirit and advice them accomplish things with ad hoc technology. One of his aboriginal creations was Drawdio, an electronic pencil that lets you accomplish air as you haul.
Abutting up was something with the Silveresque agname of MaKey MaKey, an invention equipment he developed at MIT with person student Eric Rosenbaum. Funded by Kickstarter (they set a ambition of $25,000 and raised $568,000), the child’s play electronic equipment contains a circuit board, alligator clips and USB cables and helps anyone turn everyday objects into touchpads that can be used to interact with a computer.
Bodies clamp the alligator clips to an affair and then connect them buttoned up the equipment to their computer. Touching the affair produces a tiny electrical connection, which the computer interprets as a keystroke or the movement of a mouse.
The kits cost $50 and add “Be stoked. The apple is your construction equipment!” on the box. Since they began shipping last summer, bodies around the apple accept used them to ascendancy computer programs with anything that can conduct electricity: fruit, plants, baptize, even household pets. One student at Southern Methodist University won a allowance appearance by hooking MaKey MaKey to plates full of aliment and eating his road buttoned up a crowd-pleasing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
MaKey MaKey seems according to a toy, and educators accept used it to play games or advise kids about basic electrical circuitry. But Silver believes that his equipment can again advice engineers analysis concepts and prototypes added cheaply.
“Some bodies are aloof totally goofing around (with the kits). Some bodies are manufacture devices so that their son with cerebral palsy can access browsing the Interlacing,” he said. “I don’t apperceive which of those two things actually are added big. They’re both, to me, really admired.”
Silver, any more a maker-research scientist at Intel Labs, hopes MaKey MaKey will awaken the artistic impulse in bodies and animate them to tackle their own DIY projects.
“Adapted any more, in culture, there’s this action that we accept to accomplish (things). And I anticipate it’s as we didn’t accomplish (things) for a while, with the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “I anticipate when you accomplish something, you’re affectionate of manufacture acceptation and aim. You’re affectionate of manufacture the apple what it is. You’re voting with your hands — not in a booth but manufacture chicken feed, adapted any more, that really happens in your own space.”
Continued before that after aphotic on the beach, Silver’s roiling imagination was inventing stuff.
As a boy in Cocoa Beach, Florida, he duct-taped a fork to a hand drill to accomplish an automatic spaghetti-twirling appliance. In fourth grade, he discovered by accident that his walkie-talkies communicated at the selfsame frequency as his remote-ascendancy car. So he combined the car, an upside-down trash can and some other parts to accomplish a robot he controlled by manufacture certain sounds into the walkie-talkies.
“According to any acceptable child of the ’80s, I watched a lot of ‘MacGyver.’ But I was appealing bad at manufacture things,” he said. “I loved kites. Kites accept added questions than answers. I adulation things with added questions than answers.”
Silver is fascinated by the abstraction of combining or refashioning objects, according to his spaghetti twirler, to actualize uses for which they were not intended.
“What is the aim of things? Who said that was the aim of it?” he asked. “Other bodies don’t accept to decide the acceptation of things. We can all decide.”
It’s the selfsame impulse that leads kids to play with a box instead of the toy that came in it.
“I didn’t charge anything adapted to hack as a child. I aloof used whatever was around. I anticipate all children accomplish this,” Silver wrote in an e-mail. “I anticipate this is one of the most adapted and again least altered things about all humans: They ace shot everything every road and accept actual accessible minds, especially when adolescent.”
At MIT, Silver became allotment of a accumulation called Lifelong Kindergarten, which seeks to foster artistic adults buttoned up a “kindergarten style of learning” that emphasizes designing, experimenting and exploring. It was a abundant fit for him as it taught him to not abhorrence failing, to accumulate trying altered things.
“I’m affectionate of a bottom-up maker. I don’t accept a aim. I don’t really apperceive how things assignment that able-bodied. I aloof mess around with stuff, and things alpha to emerge,” he said. “It’s affectionate of according to a conversation with materials.”
Silver’s access — allotment engineer, allotment artist, allotment curious 5-year-aged — impressed his mentors at MIT.
“Jay is an incredible artistic arm. Seldom accept I met someone who spins out so abounding artistic ideas. He really has the spirit of a tinkerer, always trying out advanced things,” said Mitchel Resnick, professor of learning research at the MIT Media Lab.
“Jay has held on to that playful curiosity (that children accept) and uses that to engage with bodies,” Resnick added. “One affair that’s for sure is that Jay will accomplish something that none of us will expect. He’ll actualize advanced paths that none of us are even thinking about today. And whatever it is, it’ll advice bodies analyze the apple around them and bring alleviation to their lives.”
Today, Silver lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife, Jodi, an artist and early-childhood-creativity educator, and their son, Oak, 2. His action at Intel takes him to festivals and events such as the Bay Area Maker Faire, where he leads artistic workshops on such activities as manufacture digital circuits by picture with a pencil. In return, he takes some of what he learns about prototyping back to Intel Labs, which does research in a array of futuristic computing fields.
Silver is again still spreading the chat about MaKey MaKey. His production company, JoyLabz, has distributed about 20,000 of the kits.
“The astuteness I’m manufacture this equipment is that I’m totally stoked about what I can accomplish with it and what other bodies can accomplish with it,” he said. “I achievement that other bodies statement it in a road that makes them air alive. And if they are, it doesn’t matter to me if what they’re doing can be called advantageous or not.”
Silver talks wistfully about a utopian approaching where everyone creates their own altered space instead of settling for cookie-cutter homes or furnishings or decorations.
“We aloof don’t appetite bodies running to Walmart when they accept a wobbly table,” he said. Instead, Silver envisions a advanced begetting of artistic thinkers who cut and adhesive disparate materials to accomplish something advanced that holds personal acceptation for them — according to what artists and writers accept been doing for centuries but on a broader scale.
“Booty, for archetype, one of the cornerstones of artistic icons: LEGOs. LEGOs let you body anything, adapted? Able-bodied, I am a fan of LEGOs, but there is one affair they are not communicating: The apple you alive in is a set of LEGOs,” he said. “That’s my message. You don’t charge a equipment, and you don’t charge to stick to the pieces that come in the box.”
To Silver, such tinkering boosts “artistic confidence”: the transformative adeptness that comes with manufacture something tangible and fresh.
“If you amuse some kids thinking ‘I can accomplish this’ — especially ones that wouldn’t accept had a chance to anticipate that road — that’s acceptable enough for me. And we’re already seeing it happen,” he said.
Silver’s workshops are aimed mostly at children, but there’s a astuteness why he’s invited to speak at abstraction-driven conferences according to TEDx and PopTech. His lessons are applicable to any hidebound grad student or bag executive: Rewrite the rules. Ace shot everything. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Chase your alleviation.
To Silver, it’s human attributes.
“The apple that I’d according to to alive in is a apple where everybody helps to accomplish it in their own road,” he said. “So it’s a hodgepodge of altered collections, of contributions … reflecting everyone’s own internal inspiration. Affectionate of the road attributes is, but with humans. That would be a admirable apple.”
Computer + banana = amusing
CNN.com – Technology
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Originall posted April 6, 2013