Digital Humanities, Makerspace and Gnomes

Yesterday at a meeting for digital humanities / 3D makers at https://maker.library.curtin.edu.au/ we were set a project brief to promote the makerspace.

We want something thematic to

  • encourage guerrilla (i.e. low-cost but accessible) digital humanities learning, skills, resources AND using the makerspace facilities and digital skills of our library staff and resources at the Library Makerspace
  • something funny yet memorable
  • something flexible but not subject to strict copyright restrictions (looking at you MagicCastleLand)
  • appealing to adults and children and young adults alike
  • communal and community based
  • ideal for environment-sensing and ecological projects (we have an Internet of Everything and iBeacons plus we can teach sensor-based project making)
  • capable of being built using a variety of materials, permanent and less permanent
  • suitable for immediate or long-term use past the dates of the workshop
  • anything that builds on Perth and Western Australia yet of interest and customisation-friendly for overseas staff and students

I suggested GNOMES. We would run courses around designing and building GNOMES, But they could have additional features and magical powers.

  • There are 3D Gnomes ready to print on the internet so we can teach 3D printing skills and scanning skillets scan themselves in 3D (http://structure.io/) and using free 3D software they can create halfGNOME halfPerson statues. Plus they can help teach crafting skills (very important for digital humanities).
  • something funny yet memorable. Self-evident: http://www.gardenfun.com/garden-gnomes.html Plus the potential for puns is gnomormous.
  • something flexible but not subject to strict copyright restrictions, but we can use the course to discuss creative commons and 3D objects: https://creativecommons.org/2016/04/19/attribute-3d-printed-objects/
  • appealing to adults and children and young adults alike: Self-evident really! Gnomes can be all shapes and sizes, and their rounded contours mean they can be easy (or difficult) to carry. They can be part of treasure hunts and quizzes or projection shows/outdoor displays for orientation days or themed meetings.
  • communal and community based: students can design the gnomes for hospital and senior citizen gardens, the best could be kept on campus, and promoted at Orientation Day (O-Day, henceforth known as Gnome Day).
  • ideal for environment-sensing and ecological projects: Gnomes can have slots and cavities for sensors, arduino or other. Plus the Gnomes can feature augmented reality trackers but the information will be stored in the cloud. Also, the silhouette of the Gnome could also perhaps be an AR tracker! Will need to build the ARGnome app though.
  • capable of being built using a variety of materials, permanent and less permanent: Gnomes are often found in gardens. 3D Gnome patterns would be a great exercise for our design, art and engineering students. Solar power and low-energy power for circuits in various interactive Gnomes would be an interesting engineering project (perhaps contact with the Gnome base could create some form of friction and very low levels of energy?) Patchwork gnomes could be given to visitors.
  • suitable for immediate or long-term use past the dates of the workshop: Gnomes are often of concrete, metal or masonry. We need to look at durable plaster/plastercine as well.
  • anything that builds on Perth and Western Australia: we already have a giant and mysterious Gnome Valley 2 hours south of Perth! http://www.fergusonvalley.net.au/gnomesville.html

What is stopping us? People laughing at us basically. Also too many Gnomes get abducted or end up in strange places.
Oh and I also have an idea for a text to speech bot garden Gnome that reflects on deep philosophical questions. Gnome Chomsky.

Other ideas for garden-variety digital humanities:

  • Scarecrows that sense fertiliser-deficiency but are 3D printed with politicians faces.
  • Or garden trolls that sense weather conditions and then tell you the exact opposite.
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