Makers and Personalization

Tim: [00:00:00] I'm Tim Panton and this is the distributed Futures podcast
Vim: and I'm Vimla Appadoo .
Tim: And we thought today we talk about personalization and individualization of you know, how that works in a mass-produced world where everything is the same so I kind of look.
Vim: Yeah
Tim: this for the point of you of like when you when we first got windows on PCS all those years ago people spent a lot of time, um, when they first got them setting their own desktop picture, and like customizing them settings and stuff like that and we still want to do that. We still customize our laptops and are not phones in their cases and stuff kind of have put a stamp on them.
And it sort of, you know, there's a need there to do that. I mean like you got a case on your on your phone?
Vim: I do but it's not really a representation of [00:01:00] me. It's not something that I consider personal it's more functional.
Tim: So you haven't got one that kind of you know, I mean, do you have more than one do you have like another one that you go out like a work one in a play one and that kind of stuff?
Vim: No. No, I don't but I think I personalize my things in different ways. So the way I set my phone up so very specific so. The kind of the order of the apps folder sat there in the way they're organized on my phone. That's how I personalize it and similarly on my laptop. That's the kind of stuff that I make sure it's tailored to me.
Tim: I met a graphic designer once who who organized the icons in their iPhone by color.
Vim: Wow, well mine's not like that
Tim: one folder and all the green in another whatever
Vim: like that's interesting.
Tim: So how
Vim: much more functional yeah,
Tim: so it's like Communications in one place and for yeah.
[00:02:00] Vim: Yeah and even to the point of like I won't have um, like my work folder on my home screen.
I'll make sure that's kind of hidden two screens away. So that. In my damn time, I'm not tempted to check it. Um and things like that.
Tim: Yeah, interesting. I had not thought of that as a personalization, but it absolutely is. I mean, I don't have there's a bunch of things. I could don't have my work email on my phone, which annoys the heck out of people
it's like they send me a calendar invite and I ignore it until I get to either my iPad on my laptop because I don't deal with work emails on my phone.
Vim: Yeah, you shouldn't have to
Tim: yeah, I don't have to but it's like I just don't it's like I know that if it was there I deal with it, but like the way I manage it is probably like not allowing it to appear.
Vim: Yeah, [00:03:00] √Tim: but that's all around customizing the software and to an extent the behavior of the device, but it's not. The devices are themselves are mass-produced. We're not like it used to be Gamers, Gamers still do this now with like, um, they build their own PCS to their own specifications. Say like spend endless endless hours picking out the exact like cooling system and how it should be lit and stuff like that. Where as the rest of us kind of don't get to do that with their computers anymore?
Vim: No, that's very true.
Tim: I mean, you know, we choose the MacBook or the Dell laptop or whatever. It is about choice and that's it. Like, you know, you don't really get to customize it. Um,
Vim: no, but that was that about um, someone
whereas now you get the rose gold the [00:04:00] seven whatever colors they they do and similarly with Samsung kind of diversify the colors and range that you can get them. And so I wonder if that's how we'll start personalizing things
Tim: kind of heading downward direction that cars have gone in like, you know, You can choose the colors and kind of accessorize your car to an extent not a huge extent but but somewhat
Vim: yeah.
Tim: Um. I don't know if people are buying cars these days or whether they're all like renting them. Um, and therefore not feeling the same ownership because I think that's partly what it's about. It's about putting your. Ownership mark on on a on a thing making it yours.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
And I guess there's not a lot of opportunity to do that anymore.
Tim: No, I mean, I think it's [00:05:00] much more difficult than it than it used to be and I think it's also true in like to an extent true in fashion and clothing like, you know, maybe I'm wrong but I have the feeling that. A little less variety than they used to be.
We went through a phase where like there were a lot of books accepitble ball Styles. And now I think we're down to sort of smaller numbers of of defined files that have kind of what people wear. Maybe I'm yeah not seeing that right but I feel that like that
Vim: interesting conversation actually around how where the what we were should.
Be a reflection of who we are the people that we are versus whether what we were um, is who we aspire to be and the crowds or image that we want to be associated with and I think the difference is the first example was very individuals very personalized and it's [00:06:00] let your style be and the second is homogenized.
It's to let your style will be the group that you want to be a part of and I think the influence of social media and like pressure from society pushes us into that second one, whereas before I think it was very very like let you style be yours, right?
Tim: That's interesting because I mean I went I went to a hacker meet up this evening Berlin like so there's a Berlin club club here that's been running for 23 years, and it was their birthday party tonight.
Vim: Um amazing,
Tim: so I rocked up to it like without, you know, I sort of vaguely know people who who are members. I'm not a member but but um, and I thought about what to wear and I thought was actually really easy. I'm going to wear Black, you know, because it's a Berlin hacker event. Everyone will be wearing black [00:07:00] and for sure everybody was and then the question is just like which militant logo tee shirt do I wear, you know, and that was like but that was actually an important decision about like, you know, exactly.
What's the message. I want to give about I um, you know, my political views are um about exactly politics, but you know, um, Uh what my hacker ethic is position is uh my t-shirt. So yeah yeah, so I think I think clothing and and I also noticed.
Um, I mean the sort of again going to the chapter event kind of brought it home to me to the extent to which women's hair styles of homogenized by you know, yeah shoulder the length straight hair is just like the default setting in a way. And in a way that I don't think it ever was in the past. Um, [00:08:00] we're not the same extent.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah. I think it's really interesting what I noticed, um, like having just shaved my head the the majority of the comments that I got before were you're really brave for doing this it's courageous thing. Whereas in the like mid 90s, it was quite normal. So I think this definitely something that has some organized about people like women in particular just it being the norm to have hair any Divergence from that has become smaller and smaller.
Tim: Yeah, I think that's right. I think I mean I what I was thinking about from the point of view of the you know, the hacker thing is that the it made me aware of the. How much variety there was in like hairstyles in that the women? They're all had kind of very much individualistic hairstyles because that was [00:09:00] kind of, you know, part of what they did and I realized that I wasn't seeing that so much in the rest of the community like, you know, the sort of there they're a bit more rebellious and and it's part of their statement of you know of that Rebellion, I guess.
Vim: Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I say one thing one thing I have found really interesting. Um is appreciating individualization consumerist scale. So I recently ordered um a product online and it got delivered from the US with my name printed on the Delight the physical packaging of the product not just the kind of envelope or anything but on the actual product itself.
Um, so this was made by. XX for Vimla and that to me really made me feel valued
Tim: Does that mean you can't resell the product now because it like forever it'll say Vimla on it.
[00:10:00] Vim: Yeah, I mean it's a it's a food type. Anyway, I haven't reset it, but it's um, yeah, it does mean that
Tim: okay interesting and does it have like the the person who packaged or prepared its name on it as well then or is it just you
Vim: No, it has that the person who prepared it. Um. And it's part of the whole brand awareness that it's all very, um, relatable content that's on it.
And that kind of thing too.
Tim: That's interesting. And so that's like although there's you know have many thousands of people buying the same product like they're still trying to pull the sense of of ownership. We're not exactly the ownership but a personal relationship into it.
Vim: That's that's a familiarity.
Yeah, right, right.
Tim: That's interesting. Yeah, do you think that worked for you? That's something [00:11:00] that you you liked?
Vim: Yeah. I noticed it straight away and it made me want to buy it again. It was that it's something I feel like I had knowing that it's a mass market and that they'd put the thought into do that made me feel more valued as a customer,
Tim: right?
And you didn't have a sense like whether it was genuine or not. Like
Vim: um it yeah, I like it didn't really matter to me.
Tim: Okay interesting because I mean I think you know like the bots in slack a very Charming but actually they're still box.
Vim: Yeah
Tim: and after a while it kind of greats a bit but like. This sort of fake personalization.
I mean like in like John was saying, you know in the um in the love and dating episode about how how you know, the bots does it [00:12:00] matter if you can't tell if they're real or not, they're real people or bots um, Yeah, at what point does it below the intention is still there? I suppose which was which is important.
So what's your next kind of like do do you do make anything do you like create stuff that is is customized in that sense.
Vim: Uh me personally.
Tim: Yeah. Yeah.
Vim: Um, Not like yes, and no. So I really I love arts and crafts. So I will and I'm trying to be more environmentally friendly. So I'm trying to upcycle all of the kind of jars and tins and stuff that I have lying around to make things for the house. So in that sense, that's my way of like customizing it around around my space.
[00:13:00] Tim: Okay,
Vim: that's all stuff that I've seen in other places or ideas that have stolen from like Pinterest or things like that. So it's works then that's really customize this debatable.
Tim: Okay, but I mean it yeah it isn't it. Isn't that I suppose. I mean I don't I basically I do very very little of that.
Um, when I guess the only customization I do is is cooking, like? You know, I will. The thing that I want to cook with ingredients to hand it'll definitely be kind of my my thing but um, but yeah, I know and I think well, I mean you'll hear uh, you'll hear the conversation with Lucy Rogers. Like she's she's very interested in in the Resurgence of maker the maker, um mindset and and the the ability of people to make specific things.
Um, That are [00:14:00] either, you know unique in one way or another or just built to a particular purpose or even just built for the sheer Joy of it. Um, so it's something we've kind of we're starting to lose in in a lot of product spaces. So I think it's great that it's coming back in in in that neck of the woods.
Vim: Yeah, absolutely.
Tim: So let's um, let's let you listen to that and see what you make of it.
Vim: Great. Thanks.
Dr Rogers: I'm, dr. Lucy Rogers, I'm founder or Guild of makers.
Tim: So I thought it would be really interesting to try and find out what the Guild of makers is doing and what that might look like in the future because I think.
Making is a sort of thing that we all hear about a little bit but maybe don't really understand what the philosophy is of it. And where and where it's going
Dr Rogers: to [00:15:00] me making used to be something that everybody did. I mean way before the Industrial Revolution everything was bespoke you had your clothes made for you and if they weren't made for you though adapted to fit you because they were hand- me down or something and then with um industrialization.
It became one-size-fits-all at would have whether that be a car your boots your clothes, whatever and even up until the early 70s. I remember going to Primary School. My first year of primary school everybody had a hand knitted jumper. You know nanny. Mummy. Somebody knitted the jumper for you by the time I left Primary School.
You were reared sneered upon you look down on if you still had a hand knitted jumper if you couldn't afford a shop bought one, then that was really a bad thing. And so something happened in that time to make making become a the poor [00:16:00] persons. Hobby, you know it was only done if you had to if you couldn't afford something else, however, nowadays jump forward and probably early 2010 2011 that sort of time and not only were things like the Raspberry Pi coming out which meant that Electronics was getting easier to make things for yourself, but also knitting was coming back into fashion.
And so not only the Geek Side of making but the craft side of making was having starting to have a Resurgence and shops like Etsy were coming online where you could actually sell your stuff online without having to go to the local the local market to sell your wares. And a lot of people were doing this in their spare time for fun and setting stuff just for the price of the materials because they were it's their Hobby and they just [00:17:00] didn't need in my case.
I'm a woodturner and I didn't need quite so many round vessels in my house. And so try to sell them get rid of them, but then a few people started looking at it, and I was one of them thinking. Well, actually I prefer making than anything else that I'm doing and I want to make for a living. So how do I do that?
And the problems that I was running up against were the same problems that were there? I was a maker making a chronic gadgets and gizmos or whether I was a maker making woodturning or my friends who are knitting or doing leathercraft. We were all coming up amongst the same sort of questions. Like should I be a limited company?
Should I be a sole Trader? So I have to register for VAT. How do I cost my stuff? How do I price my stuff? How do I advertised all the sort of small business questions were becoming out there and we were sort of asking each other but also not having a real sense of [00:18:00] community of who else can I ask my doing this all on my own?
I'm also an author I've written a book called "It's only rocket science" and I'm a member of the Society of authors and I. They've been going since 1800 something and I can actually send them a contract and say is this a good contract they said oh, yes, but I'd ask for a bit more royalties on that or no, that's not usual or they could send me the details about how to give presentations in schools how to get public liability insurance.
So all these things but specifically for authors and I thought well actually that's the sort of thing that I think makers could really do it is how how do I do all this stuff? It's just difficult for a maker because if you ask the product liability, but you making one off um, and there will bespoke.
And so you can't get it all quality assured that everyone you're going to make is exactly the same. Where do [00:19:00] you go have you look at this, but I think. Because we've now got so many people who can make we've got YouTube this teaching everybody. Uh, you can look on YouTube to see how do I make this thing?
How do I start this thing? And we can also sell stuff online at a lot of the things where mass production and having a factory or a huge business behind you. To actually make a living from making it's not there anymore or you don't need you don't need that backup. You can actually do it yourself use remote.
Um. Colleagues, use services that are already on a line. And so I think actually making as a craft as an industry is it's going to kick off and in the next 10-15 years, we're gonna see school children and say when I grow up I want to be a maker and people will know what that is.
Tim: I think that's I mean, [00:20:00] This is just so much to unpack there this a bit just really...
I mean just picking out one piece in the middle of that which is really interesting because women I had a chat which actually haven't got live yet. But we were talkin about the ethics of technology and one of the things that we came across was the idea that that a lot of the other Industries have guilds or professional associations that regulate standards of behavior.
Um, uh, you know anything from Pilots to to Engineers or whatever, they have their professional association, but there's no, you know worshipful company of software coders or if there is they seem to be rather ineffective and not well publicized. So I think it's fascinating that you're actually referencing back to.
to the guild structure and I think think you know, uh, there's a lot to be said for it and I think it we will see those sorts of social organizations happening more and [00:21:00] more what I think would be it would be interesting to know is what you um, What you feel people will will do with things like 3D printing because we talked about kind of stuff that you're doing with your hands like knitting and turning but what else is there in the kind of Technology space that crosses over?
Dr Rogers: Get the 3D printing. Uh, we've already got a lot of I need a gadget or Gizmo that does this or I've broken one of these who can make one who can who can fix it for me. So instead of having to go to the very expensive part shop. And say okay I bought this rather inexpensive vacuum cleaner or whatever, but now I have to buy a very expensive part just to fix it.
Again. We could actually 3D print our own and they'll probably be services that do that. So I haven't got a 3D printer but someone down the road has or someone on I know online has and we could just actually ask them to 3D print it here is the file. [00:22:00] So I think that's 3D printing as a service for repair and reuse.
I think is going to be quite big as well as the rapid prototyping the can I make one of these things that does that and will it be right an example of that. I was talkin to a dressmaker recently. She makes a bespoke one-off dresses for individual clients, and she said. I don't want to take all these dresses these large dresses to all the shows.
You know, I'm taking huge suitcases to the States going around all the shows to show the different styles that we can make but we can make the dresses in miniature. So about 8 inches tall, but said what I've been looking for for the last four years or so is a dressmakers mannequin, that's about 8 inches tall.
Um, and I haven't been able to find anyone who can make this only had a couple of Crafters who've tried it but [00:23:00] they hasn't looked like a woman's body. It looks sort of block shaped. And the can't use dolls because dolls are just not human shaped not the right precautions and I want it to be exactly right.
So I went home and did some searching on the internet and 3D printed her an 8-inch mannequin. Uh, these were exactly what you've been looking for for four years, but she didn't know to ask for a 3D printer of them. And so the getting the. The story out there that we can do these things to people in Industry industries.
That wouldn't normally have gone to technology. I mean, yes, you might be using um, and not a hand-powered sewing machine, but she's not using that much extra technology than they would have done hundred years ago, but actually a 3D printed mannequin is. Okay [00:24:00] technology that she couldn't have imagined.
Tim: So just to dig down into that. Did you get a design file for the for a full-size mannequin and shrink it or was there actually a 8 inch mannequin design file out there already
Dr Rogers: bit of both. Um. Searching for ladies torsos on 3D print on the internet did get some interesting results not many were actually human-shaped but there's a piece of gaming software where you can actually
change all the dimension so you can make your woman taller shorter pinch her waist in making a hips bigger. And so I took this piece of software into the dressmaker and said, okay what shape what dimensions do you want this this lady? And from that I managed to get the STL file so it went straight from a open-source gaming piece [00:25:00] of software for for you to design your own
people in computer games to print for a dressmaker
Tim: that's brilliant. That's a wonderful wonderful line of causation there. So the economics of this I mean does it does it do we feel that it's going to overtake mass-production either at the high end or or just for practicality or not?
Dr Rogers: It's hard to say.
I think that. The all the places we're getting our clothes for example mass produced at the moment. Um, the cost of living is going up and so when we we offshored things from the UK and things went to China and to Vietnam and they've been moving around the world, but eventually all the world is going to catch up in the cost of living is going to raise rise everywhere.
And so we're not going to get the very [00:26:00] very inexpensive clothing. Uh-oh any Goods that we are used to because human labor costs are going to go up which will make bespoke stuff actually seem less expensive, um, putting our time and F in will be easier and we can still use Technologies to take out the the boring the um, The dull, The dangerous and the Dirty Work and actually automate a lot of those production parts and so we're just left with the time that we need to recoup pay for is the connectivity part rather than the actual making on some of the some of the bits.
So yeah, a lot of I think it will become not, probably not for everyone knocks for everything but more and more people will have bespoke somethings.
Tim: I mean, I think that's [00:27:00] that's with very much people's Instinct. I mean, I remember seeing this stat that the first thing that anyone does when they get their Windows machine or used to do when they got they Windows machine was to um change the wallpaper on the on the home screen.
Um to personalize it so that kind of you know, when people do that very much. So on their on their their smartphones, you know, the home screen is something that people try and customize to make it feel theirs so I think there's a the instinct to still very much there if somewhat supressed as you say that those of.
Of mass production. I'm still concerned about the economics. I mean what happens to to labor costs is part of it, but with increasing mechanization the labor cost stop being dominant and if you look at some businesses already dominated by energy cost. Um, and what happens there? I'm not sure like energy costs are pretty flat [00:28:00] the world over so I where you produce things.
Starts to there aren't any cheap places to produce steel for example, or aluminium aluminium dominated I think by energy costs. And so there's no cheap place to build to make aluminium. You make it wherever you need it presumably. I mean, there's some economies of scale and stuff, but I think think that.
I can't predict the direction there. I think there's something complicated very complicated going on there fun to find an economist to talk to us about but um, but so in terms of your aspirations for the for the guild, uh, you know, you kind of on a membership drive or or or just kind of quietly picking up members as you go along or what
Dr Rogers: currently quickly pick up members as we go along it's started.
I started last June 2017 with just putting a [00:29:00] hour on Twitter #makershour Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m. Um, just to sort of chat to other makers to see if there was interest. Out there and so that's been going every week for over a year now and different people will host it ask five or six different questions come on in and it usually starts with what have you made this week.
And so we get the um, the geekery stuff the the electronic stuff and fun things some useful things. Some people have been making things for their Gardens. Some things are being, you know, making things visitors. It's all. Eclectic all we all celebrate the joy of making and everyone's been helping you to other so from that I thought okay, actually, it's not just me that once some kind of society that we can work together for but we also want to be able to say, um, okay.
So for example a large [00:30:00] company, uh could come too. Lucy Rogers and say can you make me one of these things but really who's Lucy Rogers and what backing have they got but if they could come to the Guild of makers and say could one of your people or an accredited person in the guild make one of these things it gives the whole making more credibility and more trust.
Um, and also all the jumping through hoops to get into. Um a large companies onto a large companies subcontract account system if the guild was already on there, then that would be great. So in the future we're looking to do a acreditation.... be interested in it. Um. I thought it would start with maybe 10 20 30 people. So we launched it officially in March. We've currently got 150 people in. Um, I think it's six different countries for different countries continents. Anyway, we've got 17 in the States we've got five in Canada.
[00:31:00] Um one in Brazil won in um, Australia and Europe, um a lot in the UK, so it's it's grown a lot bigger than I was expecting it to and. A lot more quickly and we're still doing a lot of the hoop jumping of okay, how do I get the trademark registered so that we can use it as a couple of like a kite Mark in the future of this is a stamp that says we are a qualified maker.
So in its opening up slowly and hopefully before too long we'll be able to offer a lot more.
Tim: Yeah, and I think that this whole. shape, you know guilds in general and then obviously this one in particular is fascinating. Do you see yourself being able to hold it together as generically make us or do you think it's going to kind of fragment into unfair question but fragmenting to kind of more back [00:32:00] into metal work wood work electronics that sort of you know, the segregations that you're starting to see or do you think that people are building more whole objects that have all of those components.
Dr Rogers: I think people are actually combining things so you can join the Guild of woodturners or leather makers or seamstresses. I think that's Terry Pratchett reference. I probably shouldn't be going down so you can join a guild just one specific making crafts. But if you then want to put Electronics in it, or you want to put leather work on your wood turning you've either got to join two guilds and how do you still get into that?
Or maybe you can just speak to someone in the Guild of makers and say okay. What's oh you do that bit. I do this bit. Let's work together. Let's collaborate. So I'm looking at there'll be a lot more collaborations between different disciplines not just in individuals, but in [00:33:00] groups of people working together.
Tim: Right. I think that that makes perfect sense in the in the sense that kind of a lot of things have a small amount of electronics in them.
Dr Rogers: Yeah
Tim: and or or you know, as you say it's a I mean it's bridles a bad example because it's like an established craft, but but there are things which have multiple materials and skills involved and that you know, that makes does make sense interesting.
So do you see your. Most of your members using Etsy and that sort of channels for distribution or their kind of local market. So how does how does that work?
Dr Rogers: Yep, a lot of people different people using a lot of different things. So some selling, um on kickstarter's some have got suppliers that they they they sell to others are still trying to break into the markets.
[00:34:00] Some are taking the around shows and just selling individually because the still a lot of craft shows and makerfairs that are actually um, Sell it where people can sell these things. So it's all yeah, there's a lot of different um markets out there,
Tim: but it hasn't kind of coalesced into a definitive shape yet.
There's not just one one place to go
Dr Rogers: no the whole of the guild is. I've been saying it since I started it's not just me. This is the guild for the makers. And so I'm relying on the members actually telling me what they want and how they want to do it.
Tim: And how do you how you kind of managing again a bit of a mean question, but how you managing the kind of democracy of that?
Like an any new organization building the kind of governance [00:35:00] structures. It is always really tricky and you starting down that road.
Dr Rogers: I've started as the dictator in Chief. Um, and I've got rules I've got regs. I've got the code of conduct that a group of great volunteers are actually helped with but start with I have seen a lot of.
Make make a spaces hack spaces work well when the volunteers are working well. And crashing and burning when the volunteers are not working so well, so it's my intention to actually pay people to do the things that we need doing haven't quite got there yet, but I'm working on it with we're actually managed to pay a membership secretary just started that so I'm hoping to get actual members who maybe need just a one day a week job or one day a month job and we can actually pay them [00:36:00] too
yeah, white the newsletter or do the membership or write a article for how to how to get public light Insurance liability insurance or whatever. So going down that route. It will be a it's a limited company. Um, and we're going to run it as a business but. Always listening to what the members want.
Tim: Right? Right because I mean you're absolutely right about the kind of Makerspace. Uh, you know, they're not at that there you go in to make a space and almost within seconds. You can tell what kind of like how it feels they all feel quite different and it's about the kind of the volunteers and how you're welcomed and how that's.
Managed and I I think like getting the kind of structure and paying people to do things that are necessary [00:37:00] is kind of at least uh, a big part of that otherwise, you know, things get a bit chaotic and and I think somehow that reinforces cliquish na, um, you know, if people are doing they're doing the work for free.
Then they kind of get selective about who they're doing it for you. in a way. Uh, where's I think if you if you're getting paid to do it, then you kind of you know, you feel more maybe outgoing about it, unless insula. Maybe I'm I'm maligning. People about but and there
Dr Rogers: are volunteers out there. Um, and I do appreciate that but the guild wanted to be professional from the start and I can't say hey everyone you should charge for your time.
But please can you do this for free? That doesn't work in my book.
Tim: Right, right because they partly that's what you're sort of selling is in the [00:38:00] end what the makers are selling is that there is their time so it kind of yeah has to be that's fascinating. That's really interesting. I'm gonna have to think about like what all this means in terms, but I think it's I think as energy costs go up transport and distribution and the idea having huge huge warehouses and huge massive scale plant stops making as much sense and I think at that point you know local making in particular starts to make a lot of sense. Anyway, great. I think there's a fascinating kind of insight into the space and like I say, I have to think a lot more about what means and maybe we'll come back to you in a year or so and and find out what's changed and see whether any of our predictions were right.
So thanks very much. And if you if you want to put a send me a link or so I can put that into the uh, I mean if [00:39:00] you want to read it out now otherwise and I can also put it into the into the transcript so that the any links or notes that you want to put in our available.
Dr Rogers: Put the website is the Twitter #makershour is every Wednesday at 8 p.m. #makershour
Tim: brilliant. Well, thank you very much.