How to UnMake a Makerspace build thread: Why I make things, Part 1 Emotional Needs.

You know they sell that at Walmart for like 20 dollars right? 

I do, but thanks for letting me know.  I could for sure buy something close to what I want for a very small amount of money mass manufactured in china that is very similar to what I am making.  But I want it to have the USB port able to continuously deliver 2 amps and dissipate the heat. Why would I computer model, 3D print, make a custom PCB for greater cost than the off the shelf solution that takes 16 hours to do?

Because I can!

I may actually have some deeper emotional needs than just "Because I can".  In life I can't control much.  It gives me anxiety when things are out of my control.  I put great effort into understanding the world around me.  Issac Newton, the father of modern day science, watched as the entirety of human knowledge became greater than anyone man could understand as he ushered out the age of alchemy.  Since I likely won't be able to understand all of recorded human knowledge I need to grab what I can.  We all have different learning styles, my strongest tendency is towards kinesthetic learning. Specifically project based learning.

By doing a project, I retain a greater portion of the subject matter.  The hands on creates emotional connection to the parts of the project and the lessons learned.  For anyone who questions this, take a look at a broken tap or stripped screw and tell me you don't have an emotional response.  I know I do, I can still picture exactly the first tap I broke in a fighting robot.  I can remember every tap I have broken.  Each time I can also go back to the point where I had to reflect on the failure.  Did I repeat a dumb mistake, or did I fail in a new and different way?

Making satisfies some of the Human-Givens approach list of ten required emotional nourishment.

1.  Sense of competence and achievement

By finishing a project, I get a high.  It is similar to the high I get while at the gym pressing atlas stones or dead lifting.  A raw guttural response and an explosion of energy.  I have a physical manifestation of what I have learned and put into practice.   

2. Meaning and purpose — which come from being stretched in what we do and think.

It may for a short period of time, but I have a purpose, make a thing.  When I choose a project, I choose it based on pushing limits of what I have done in the past.  

3.  Privacy — opportunity to reflect and consolidate experience

I reflect on what I do as I step through the learning process.  This is an internal process usually focusing mistakes or as Gui calls them "opportunities."  The only way to avoid screwing things up is to not do anything.  My projects often have a lot of opportunities for learning.

And that about covers it for working in my basement alone.  That leaves me with a gaping opening with the rest of the list.  For most people they need a third place.  After home and work, they go to church, bowling, or a bar.  It usually will knock out the most of this list.  But I don't fit at most of these places.  I got this from Fighting robots and Crossfit.  I was working as a 3D printer Application Engineer when a friend and co worker pointed out an article in the Nashua Telegraph. Earlier in 2011 I met my wife and after our first date it was like that was how my life was always supposed to be.  To a far less degree but with the same conviction I knew what I had walked into when I entered MakeIt Labs.  I could check off some more boxes on the list.

4.  Security — safe territory and an environment which allows us to develop fully

The space was accepting of failure.  Just like at CrossfitTuff, everyone cheers you on when you are trying. They give you ideas and share experience.  They give you the one piece you need or lend you a tool.  When you say "hold my beer and watch this," more than one person offers and they film it for "Science."

5.  Attention (to give and receive it) — a form of nutrition

Kevin Smith says that one of the basic human needs is to be heard.  In order to have someone listen you need to say something.  I can tell stories of things I have done in the past, but as time goes by the minds eye's focus starts to become less clear.  Did I get pulled over at 107 or 117 MPH?  I can very clearly however tell you about the Unified Chart of Accounts for Non Profits and how it is designed to fill out the 990 tax form.  My audience may not car so much about the content every time, but they hear my passion.  On the flip side, I enjoy hearing about other peoples projects and learning.  I have a lot of experience, sometimes people become apologetic as they explain what they assume is a mundane task to me.  It never is, I am always excited to see the passion in peoples eyes as they get that eureka moment

6.  Sense of autonomy and control — having volition to make responsible choice.

Lets be serious.  Doing things is dangerous.  Walking down the street you could get hit by a 16 ton anvil falling from the sky.  The chance is remote, but it could happen.  Walking into a room with power tools is going to increase that danger by an exponential factor.  Every tool is designed to deliver energy in some type high discharge function.  A trained cyclist can output 400 watts at peak for short amounts of time.  The Plasma cutter can output 11,000 watts of power continuously for 45 minutes.  10 milliamps at 100 volts can kill a human.    That tool can kill you 110,000 times over in 5 seconds.  Ever used a bandsaw? No better tool exists to cut meat and bones in a butcher shop.  You know what we are made of? Mostly meat, some bones.  The shop is a direct representation a humans need for making good decisions.  Every injury I deal with begins with some version of the statement "I didn't think."  

On the flip side what you do also effects others.  By leaving the shop better than you found it, you are setting up the next user for success.  By leaving a mess, broken tools, or an unsafe condition, you are being selfish.  You can receive gratification by leaving things better than you found them.  

7.  Emotional intimacy — to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts 'n' all”

I don't think I deal with this much at the space, Paul generally grunts and drinks beers.  That may be as good as we get.Experiences may vary on this one.

8.  Feeling part of a wider community

When I walk in, I say hello to a bunch of people.  They all know my name.  I can often go for weeks at a time and only see my wife, Dunkin Donuts employees, and Inmates.  How many of you can say that everyone at your work, customers and co workers, want for the place to do well and be better?  I may not always agree with the path, but we want the place to be better just the same.  It gives us a reason to work past our differences.  All you have to do is try not to be a jerk.  To be fair, we like them to. 

9.  Sense of status within social groupings

Maker spaces become a Meritocracy.  We have co authored a term Do-ocracy as a community.  The doers actions become louder than the "experts".   How much do I weigh your input?  How good does your R4-D5 unit replicate the original?  

I am not comfortable with excepting the world around me.  I need to make it better.  I need to know that when I am gone, what I did will be looked upon as a net positive on the balance sheet of life.

I leave you with Adam Savages talk on Why We Make.

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