2012… A New Year of Collaboration?

The new year is upon us, and the hangover from seeing 2011 in the rear view mirror is still tenaciously clinging on.  The new year is a good excuse to think about goals that have been met in the last year, and to dream up new ones for the coming year and beyond.  This post is about the latter.

Most anyone that knows me knows that I keep myself busy with a lot of different creative interests and self-guided learning.  This is so woven into my being that I consider it to be one of the most important aspects of my personality.  However, most of my endeavors tend to be solo efforts these days.  Sometimes that is by choice, but not always.  The older I get, the more I have begun to appreciate that I know a lot of very bright people, and that I don’t (and can’t, and won’t) know everything there is to know about everything.  I know a lot of stuff about a lot of random things, and I have varying amounts of skills and abilities in random areas as well.  I think this is true of most of you.

I’ve come to realize that something I’m missing in my life is collaboration.  It’s all well and good that I pursue my interests solo some of the time, but I am now aware that there is a critical piece missing, and that’s working together with others on projects and endeavors.  There was ample and frequent opportunity for collaboration in the college theater days, when many of us would come together with complementary skill sets, and pull off the seemingly impossible in a short period of time.  I’ve been in bands in the past, where the creative musical output was beyond the sum of its parts.  I miss these things.

So, my door is open.  Let’s talk about interesting things that you want to do.  It might involve CNC machining, or wood working, or electronics, or software, or making music or videos.  Maybe it’s something totally different.  Share your ideas and let’s see if we can make something happen.

I know many of you have schedules that are packed full.  You have family and career obligations, many of you have kids, and there just are not a lot of hours in the day left over after all of that.   It may seem impossible to collaborate on projects due to schedule conflicts and a million other things that need to be done.  However, I know this creative and collaborative urge is there within many of you, and I am willing to bet it hasn’t gone away just because your lives have become busier.  So let’s use our significant combined brainpower, as well as the variety of technologies that are now available to us (e.g. blogs, forums, email, YouTube, Skype, Google Plus Hangouts etc.) and think outside of the box. Let’s do something. Anything.  We can start small, and see where it goes.

A big source of inspiration has been immersing myself in the video feeds from The Geek Group, who are a sort of hackerspace on steroids.  They claim that they are the world’s largest group of their kind, and that they have members in all 50 states and a whole slew of countries around the world.  They exist in impressive physical form in their fourth iteration facility in Grand Rapids, MI, in an old YMCA building that they have since bought and have been renovating themselves for just over a year.  Their facility is a mix of CNC machine shop, auto shop, wood shop, high voltage experimentation lab, electronics lab, computer science lab, video production facility, music studio, etc.  It’s cool stuff, and they’ve got a pretty cool charter, allowing people to learn stuff they’re sincerely interested in learning.

You can check out their main YouTube channel, or the personal daily video blog channel of their founder and president, Chris Boden, who is a bit of a character as you’ll see.  Below you can check out a recent video of them giving a tour of their building.

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