Category Archives: Thoughts

Risk Bites Ten Thousand! (Or, The Bravery of Academic Discourse On Youtube)

"Help us unleash the Elements of Risk Song!"

I LOVE RISK BITES!!! Ok, there you have it. I confess. Here is part of why I like them so much. You see, I don’t just love Risk Bites. I love a LOT of Youtube science education channels. But of the top science channels on Youtube, the ones with a huge fan base and almost aggressive vitality, most of them are either created by kids, young adults, and hobbyists, or they are from huge big money operations. (Please see the APPENDIX at the bottom of this post for more about “What do popular science channels look like?”) What’s missing? Academics and professionals.

And why not? Why shouldn’t there be popular science video channels from academics? WHY NOT?

Yes, universities have Youtube channels and make videos highlighting research by their faculty. Typically, they don’t go viral. Look at them, and you can tell why. They’re good, but dry. They are just not going to get the eyeballs in the same way. They aren’t, well, FUN! A lot of the reason why they aren’t fun is that they’re afraid. They’re afraid of not looking academic. They’re afraid of what their peers will say. They’re afraid of taking the risk, and maybe having someone misunderstand what they said. They’re afraid of looking silly.

MLGSCA09 Cerritos: SocMed Risks - Looking Silly

Academics tend to judge other academics. They complain bitterly when the general public won’t listen to them, but on the flip side, God help any academic who does succeed in getting public attention for communicating science well. Typically, they are ridiculed and undermined by their academic peers. We, as academics, as institutions of learning, need to cut that out. When we belittle and criticize other academics for communicating effectively with the public, it makes all of us look bad. It undermines the credibility of all of science. It weakens our justification for funding, and the understanding the public has of what we do. If you have to criticize another scientist or researcher, stick to the science, and don’t blame them for “being popular.”

Risk Bites is brave. They take the risks that other academics are often afraid to take. They talk about important and sometimes controversial topics. They do so in an engaging and still accurate way, sticking to the good science, and providing more resources in the notes for people who want to explore or learn more. They engage in the conversation with people who comment. They even make videos responding to points brought up in conversation. They are building a community.

Risk Bites is the best example I know of an academic or professional voice that intentionally, purposefully, and responsibly positions itself in the space inhabited by FUN science education videos. Here is more about the background and thought behind what they are trying to do.

So, when I say I love Risk Bites, I am not just talking about the great videos, or the quality of the content, or the awesome and relevant timely selection of topics. I’m talking also about the vision, the mission, the willingness to take risks, the BRAVERY of what they are doing. And I passionately want others to notice, pay attention, and support this grand effort.

When I heard that Risk Bites has a subscription drive, I wanted to write this. I want you to stop and think about how academic science information in Youtube compares to the popular science channels. Check out Sixty Symbols, from the University of Nottingham. That is the only popular science channel I could find from an academic source. Think about why more of us aren’t there, why WE aren’t there, why YOU aren’t there.

And then I want you to do the right thing. I want you to help to get eyeballs on another strong academic science voice in Youtube. I want you to support the people who are brave enough to try. I want you to go to the Risk Bites channel, watch some of their videos, comment, ask questions, tell them what they can do better, and SUBSCRIBE!


Help us unleash the Elements of Risk Song! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neOQEEAiwQM&list=UU8cxoTk9M0HdZB3gyJNjEtw


APPENDIX: 31 POPULAR YOUTUBE SCIENCE CHANNELS BY SUBSCRIBERS

VSauce 8,016,315
National Geographic 3,597,161
ASAP Science 3,146,879
VSauce2 3,096,072
Minute Physics 2,573,651
Charlie Is So Cool Like 2,402,791
SciShow 2,234,369
Smarter Every Day 2,194,233
VSauce3 2,112,344
Veritasium 1,965,852
Discovery 1,257,189
Mental Floss 1,123,990
Animal Planet 985,375
Minute Earth 918,132
NatGeoWild 649,592
PBS Idea Channel 580,887
Periodic Videos 500,874
NASA 450,711
The Verge 432,404
Sixty Symbols 426,072
Sick Science 399,926
Discovery TV 330,897
Science Channel 266,605
The Brain Scoop 248,660
SciShow Space 246,757
It’s OK to be Smart 239,810
Best0fScience 162,251
Bizarre ER 159,184
Spangler Science TV 146,369
Hard Science 131,431
New Scientist 117,609

What We Don’t Know: Mike Tyson, the Invisible Crime, & the Risks of “Talk to the Hand”

“I fear for anyone caught between what they know and what they don’t yet know that they don’t know.” Welcome to Night Vale, Episode One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=barhR-i_Ak8 About http://commonplacebooks.com/welcome-to-night-vale/ Transcript http://welcometonightvaletranscripts.tumblr.com/post/53983092823/welcome-to-night-vale-episode-one-transcript More http://nightvale.wikia.com/wiki/Pilot

A few days ago, Mike Tyson “came out” in a radio interview about having been sexually assaulted when he was 7 years old.


Mike Tyson opens up about Sexual Abuse – @OpieRadio @JimNorton https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QXXUlY5rAA

He had been snatched off the streets by “an old man,” sexually assaulted, and escaped. Male survivors of sexual assault have been called “silent victims,” and the sort of thing that happened to Mike Tyson has been called the perfect crime, because neither the victim nor the assailant will talk about it. This has resulted in a false perception that it doesn’t happen, which increases the misunderstanding and stigma associated with it.

“I don’t always remember. But, um, maybe I do, but I don’t.” Mike Tyson, on being sexually assaulted as a child.

Me, I completely understand this. There are memories so painful and raw that, even while you never forget they are there, you explicitly avoid thinking about them. It’s a kind of PTSD thing. And, guess what? If you dig deep enough, everyone has something they avoid thinking about. I was multitasking while writing something else, and listening to an interview with Nadia Bolz-Weber. Towards the end of that interview, she described some of her thoughts on how some ways in which people are ‘broken’ in certain ways are perceived as sexier, more newsworthy, more eye-catching, more heroic, more popular than others. That people with those specific disabilities or conditions end up almost as a kind of sacrificial lamb, symbolically carrying the brokenness for all of us. Her conclusion was that we are all broken in some way, and that focusing on some kinds of brokenness to the exclusion of others is a disservice to both.

The other part of what Reverend Bolz-Weber said that really grabbed my attention was when she talked about the difficult connection between being broken and having appropriate boundaries. She talked about how important it is for her to be there for her congregation and not place her burdens on them. So while she talks about bad things that she’s gone through or dark places in her life, she talks about the ones that are well in the past, not the ones that trouble her deeply to this moment.

“I always try to preach from my scars, not my wounds.” Nadia Bolz-Weber
http://www.onbeing.org/program/nadia-bolz-weber-seeing-the-underside-and-seeing-god-tattoos-tradition-and-grace/5896 | http://www.onbeing.org/program/nadia-bolz-weber-on-seeing-the-underside-and-seeing-god-tattoos-tradition-and-grace/feature

I’m observing a necessary tension between the harm from keeping secrets and the harms from telling secrets. Since it is hard for men to bring this up, I want to spend some time on this blog, write a few posts, and collect some resources for people about the topic of male sexual trauma. That will come, but just to start, try reading this popular article about how women are taught to keep themselves safer (I can’t say “safe” because the idea is currently impossible), to avoid sexual assault. Read this once as it is written. Then read it again, remembering that rape of men and boys is far more common than you probably believe.

If We Gave Men the Same Rape Advice We Give Women, Here’s How Absurd It Would Sound http://mic.com/articles/97302/if-we-gave-men-the-same-rape-advice-we-give-women-here-s-how-absurd-it-would-sound

Remember, “Only With Consent” needs to become an assumption for everyone. All genders, all races, all cultures.

Only With Consent http://onlywithconsent.org

Only With Consent

Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part Three: The Whisper Controversy & Beyond

I had said in Part Two of this series that I was waiting to talk about the Whisper Controversy because it was still unfolding so dramatically. Things are starting to wind down, and so last night I put together a Storify mapping out my perspective of the timeline of how this has all been happening.

Briefly, Whisper was trying to do a good thing, but it seemed to go wrong.
Guardian called them out on issues related to privacy & user tracking.
Story exploded.
Whisper defended themselves (mostly via Editor-in-Chief).
More explosions.
Guardian gleefully expanded on their original story.
Yada yada.
Whisper tries to regain trust (mostly via CEO).
Editorial team “laid off” pending investigation.
And now the clean up work starts.

Check the Storify for more details and specifics.

Meanwhile, Whisper is not alone. Far from it! Snapchat was hacked. Snapchat is probably the most famous anonymous social media app right now. Before they were hacked, all sorts of people were making tools (1, 2, 3) to “break” Snapchat’s rules about keeping copies of deleted pictures without permission. (The same sort of thing is happening on other ‘anonymous’ social platforms, like Tumblr with KnowAnon. And people posted private sex tapes on YikYak, which is also infamous for cyberbullying and violence and threats.) And the Federal Trade Commission is investigating some of the problems with Snapchat. People still trust and use Snapchat. And there are apps designed explicitly to, well, invade your privacy on an opt-in basis, like PeekInToo. This post has focused on the privacy issues, but violence, dishonesty, and cyberbullying remain significant issues in many online spaces. So, that’s the bad news. In the next post, I’ll look at some of the good things being done with social media.

MedX, and TEDMED, and the Inauguration, Oh, MY!!

MedX, UM Inaugural Symposia, TEDMED

Last week I was privileged to listen in on a press conference for the upcoming TEDMED. Tomorrow is the Symposia for the Inauguration of UM’s new President, Mark S. Schlissel, with Harold Varmus as a guest speaker! Later tomorrow and this weekend, I’ll be watching Stanford’s Medicine X (#MedX) through their Global Access program. Next week the UM Medical School will be hosting a viewing of TEDMED. I feel like I’m swimming in an intellectual biomedical broth!


President Schlissel Inauguration Symposia with Harold Varmus

Inaugural Symposia: Sustaining the Biomedical Research Enterprise and Privacy and Identity in a Hyperconnected Society

HASHTAG: #UMPres14
LIVESTREAM (1): http://umich.edu/watch/
LIVESTREAM (2): http://www.mgoblue.com/collegesportslive/?media=461850

The Inaugural Symposia for President Schissel’s investiture (8:30am ET to 12:00 noon ET) are composed of two very interesting topics and even more interesting collections of speakers. The first part, “Sustaining the Biomedical Research Enterprise,” is the section including the famous Harold Varmus, but also five other notable researchers from on campus, experts in chemistry, genetics/genomics, neuroscience, statistics, and biomedical imaging. (I’m excited that three of the five have expertise related to genomics!)

The focus of the first symposia centers around a recent article from Varmus and colleagues entitled, “Rescuing US biomedical research from its systemic flaws.

The provocative abstract states:

“The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding prospective students from entering our profession—and making it difficult for seasoned investigators to produce their best work. This is a recipe for long-term decline, and the problems cannot be solved with simplistic approaches. Instead, it is time to confront the dangers at hand and rethink some fundamental features of the US biomedical research ecosystem.”

Those three ‘simple’ sentences imply an enormity of challenges which impact both locally and globally. I guarantee it will be fascinating to hear this panel discuss these and brainstorm ways in which the University of Michigan might work towards addressing them here.


Stanford Medicine X

Stanford Medicine X 2014

HASHTAG: #MedX
LIVESTREAM: Available with pre-registration through the MedX Global Access program: http://medicinex.stanford.edu/2014-global-access-program/.

Lucky for me, the Stanford Medicine X event is on the other coast, so our local event will be almost completed when they begin livestreaming at 8AM PT (11AM ET). However, Medicine X conference lasts a solid three days, and includes topics from self-tracking to self-awareness, from entrepreneurship to partnership in design, from compassion to PCORI, from pain to clinical trials to games. It’s intense. A lot of my friends will be there, too many to name, but they include doctors, patients, geeks, and more. MedX is a powerful diverse community, and this is an exciting event.

Schedule: http://medicinex.stanford.edu/2014-schedule/


TEDMED 2014

TEDMED 2014

HASHTAGS: #TEDMED; #TEDMEDlive; #TEDMEDhive; #GreatChallenges.
LIVESTREAMING OPTIONS: http://www.tedmed.com/event/tedmedlive

TEDMED is a little different from the other two events in that it isn’t sponsored through higher education and the livestream isn’t usually free. For folk here in Ann Arbor, there is a way to watch it on campus. What you’ll see if you come includes very little that is expected. Even when someone has a job description that might sound like regular healthcare folk, what they are talking about will probably be a surprise. Beyond the idea of doctor, patient, nurse or neuroscientist, you will also hear comedians, musicians, athletes, bioethicists, military, philosophers, inventors, and more. But what else would you expect, when the theme of the event is “Unlocking Imagination”?

The TEDMED event is a little more complicated than in prior years because they are having presenters and events on both coasts — in Washington DC and in San Francisco. Some parts will overlap. Other parts won’t. You can check out the schedules for both coasts here.

Washington DC Stage Schedule (pdf)

San Francisco CA Stage Schedule (pdf)

To watch locally, details are given below.

Watch the Live Stream of TEDMED Conference, September 10-12

The Medical School will host a live stream from the TEDMED conference, which takes place September 10-12 in Washington DC and San Francisco. The focus of this year’s program is “Unlocking Imagination in Service of Health and Medicine.” Presenters include some of the most respected and undiscovered names in science, journalism, education, business, and technology. Click here to see the conference schedule. Viewing times and locations for watching the live streams are:

Wednesday, September 10: 8am-5pm: University Hospital South (Old Mott) 8th floor lounge
Thursday, September 11: 8am-12pm, 1pm-5pm: University Hospital South (Old Mott) 8th floor lounge
Friday, September 12: 8am-11:30am: University Hospital South (Old Mott) 8409 Conference Room
Friday, September 12: 11:30am-5pm: University Hospital South (Old Mott) 8419 IDTT Collaboration Space

Health Fair Meet Maker Faire! Part 3: Our Announcement!!

You saw Part One, in which the idea was born, and Part Two, in which the concept was tested and proven. So what actually happened? We’re doing it. We’re really DOING IT! By “it” I mean a health-themed maker faire/fest at the University of Michigan. REALLY!

WHAT:

We Make Health
We Make Health: http://makehealth.us

Emily Puckett Rogers had given us a heads-up about requirements for working with the official Maker Faire folk, which I had not realized was an actual brand name. So we don’t yet know if this is going to be a Mini-Maker Faire or a Maker Fest or what, but it is definitely happening!

Please note that the We Make Health event is a project of Health Design By Us, a participatory behavior change project funded as part of the UM Provost’s Third Century Initiative. It’s a completely awesome and wonderful collaboration, and you’ll be hearing more about it if you read this blog regularly.

WHEN:

Saturday, August 16, 2014

We are still settling on what happens when during the day. We are brainstorming roughly 10am to 6pm, but that may change.

WHERE:

Google Map for Palmer Commons
Palmer Commons: https://www.google.com/maps/place/100+Washtenaw+Ave/@42.2807486,-83.7335814,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x883cae4266554837:0x732dcfa6f8fb7dbe

WHO:

Joyce Lee, Doctor as DesignerPF Anderson, Self Portrait as ShadowMatt Kenyon, Artist

Us! We!

Well, Joyce Lee, Matt Kenyon, and I are taking point on planning the project (with the capable assistance of Emily Hirschfeld). Joyce is from the UM Medical School and Mott Children’s Hospital, Matt is with the School of Art and Design, and I, of course, am part of the University Libraries, Taubman Health Sciences Library. However, we have an email list for folk interested in the event which currently has over 90 people signed up. Many of them have contributed ideas, suggested contacts, volunteered to do booths or presentations, and so forth. We are reaching out to many community maker communities, and have received endorsements from several of them. You’ll hear more about our partners as the event moves closer.

CONTACTS:

1) Sign up at the We Make Health web site to receive information and updates from the Health Design By Us project.

2) If you are part of the University of Michigan, you can sign up through M-Community for the MakeHealthUM email list.

3) If you want to contact the event coordinators, our Make Health Team, you can reach us at: MAKEHEALTH at-sign UMICH dot EDU.

4) Twitter! The event itself is on twitter, as is Health Design By Us.

Make Health: @MakeHealthUM
Health Design By Us: @HealthByUs

If you want to chat with Joyce or me individually, we are also pretty easily reached through Twitter:

Joyce: @joyclee
Patricia: @pfanderson

5) Please feel free to comment on this post! We will have a blog for the actual event, but that’s still being set up. More soon!

WHAT’S NEXT:

What’s coming next is more blogposts and more news! We will highlight some of the technologies and people that will be highlighted at our event, the partners we’re working with, and exciting spinoff projects to help the energy last beyond the actual event. We’ll tell you more about some of the other folk working on health maker events, and other maker communities around the University and the Ann Arbor community.

Health Fair Meet Maker Faire! Part Two

GO-Tech Meeting at Maker Works

In yesterday’s Part One post, I left this with me trying to decide what ideas were most important to show Barbara Stripling. I had drafted a looooong blogpost on April 15th, and showed it to my friend and colleague, Kate Saylor on April 16th. Kate and I were digging around in the post, and the question came up of looking at health maker faires. I didn’t think there had been one. The conversation went something like this.

“Really?”
“Really.”
“Hmmm, that’s odd.”
“Let’s look.”
“Good idea. If anyone can find it, you can.”
“OMG, I can’t find any! Look! There are ones on sustainability, and green living, and one which include health booths, but I can’t find ANY actually themed around health!”
“REALLY?!”
“We have to do this.”
“We TOTALLY have to do this.”
“WOW.” “WOW.

The next person called was Emily Puckett Rogers, another librarian who is one of the leaders behind the Ann Arbor Mini-Maker Faire. She had a LOT of good ideas and information. We brainstormed a while, and then the next step was to start talking with other people to get more ideas. The following day, April 17th, I started a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive for folk to share ideas and collect them in one place. Word spread across campus like wildfire, and many people were making edits. The first week I kept the doc open and just kept watching in astonishment as people across campus kept logging in and out of the file.

April 18th I had a meeting with Joyce Lee about another mutual project. As we walked out of the meeting, I was telling her about this idea. Her reaction was along the lines of, “Isn’t this what we are trying to do? We should do this! We should sponsor this!” And we were off and running.

We started out brainstorming what sort of topics were a good fit for a health maker fair or festival. Oh, there are plenty, and for almost all of them someone would know of a local person doing work with that tech. At this point what I wanted to do was prove the viability of the concept by taking things I’d seen from maker fairs I’d attended and sifting out those with any kind of health relevance. I tried to distill those examples down into a few categories with just a few examples each, but leaving enough conceptual wiggle room to imply some of the other possibilities. The framework I came up with (yes, I know, I’m the acronym queen) is CLASP.

CLASP
* Creativity
* Literacy
* Access
* Sustainability
* Personal Problemsolving

The core ideas contained in CLASP apply to all makerspaces, not just the health aspects. There is also a lot of overlap in the ideas themselves. Typically, each example will include all the concepts. I’m just using this as a tool to help me organize and prioritize the examples I’ve collected.

CREATIVITY

GO-Tech Meeting at Maker WorksAnn Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013
Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013

One of the things I adore about the Maker Movement is the way people come up with their own solutions to their own problems, as individuals and as a community, through exploration, innovation, experimentation, and creation. Patient communities have been doing the same sort of thing — sharing problems and solutions, brainstorming, turning solutions into marketable products, and more. I’ve been deeply inspired and impressed with the prosthetic solutions coming from 3D printing, from Robohand & Roboleg to the beautiful prosthetic limbs (see the work done by Sophie de Oliveira and Scott Summit).

Closer to home, many people with injuries or conditions that effect mobility find themselves struggling to get in and out of clothes on their own, something that happened to me last year with my shoulder injury. The solutions can be unique to an individual, based on range of motion, grip strength, fine motor control, and other factors. Resources like sewing machines, CAD/CAM tools for modeling, and sergers can be critical to those solutions. Other persons may find healing through something as simple as a beautiful work of art, and the lights and wooden star shown here can be mentally soothing, stimulating, engaging, calming, or a source of meditation and focus. The idea of book binding connects to health, for me, as I encourage patients with a new diagnosis or long-term condition to keep their own notebook about their symptoms, treatments, meetings with providers, questions asked, answers given, etcetera. Being able to customize and personalize your own book makes it more meaningful. I don’t know, maybe this is overkill, or maybe it is the start of a great idea.

LITERACY

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013: Eli Neiberger of AADL Detroit Maker Faire 2013

I’ve never been to a maker faire where I didn’t encounter a librarian. Literacy is a big deal for librarians, and health literacy is a big deal in health care. Your standard health fair is focused around health literacy — communicating the basics around important health topics and common conditions, as well as best practices for prevention. But most of the interaction is one-sided. Health fair attendees pick up fliers and sometimes ask questions, but it isn’t literacy in the way that maker faires handle it. In maker faires, literacy isn’t just “what is it” and “let me tell you what to do.” Literacy becomes “how can I do this myself” and “what skills do I need to take this to the next level” and “what is possible if I [fill in the blank].” Literacy includes playing games to actively engage with a topic as well as building things and identifying what you need to know to achieve your own goals.

In these images, there is a librarian wearing a “Dig into reading” tshirt while she assists at a booth teaching soldering skills; a larger than lifesize version of the Operation board game which can be used to teach hand-eye coordination as well as humorously presented anatomical concepts; another librarian connecting gaming to science and technology fundamentals; and a young scientist showing science products and presenting science literacy concepts. You can’t see it in this picture, but in another image, the same young scientist shows off 3d printed laboratory equipment.

ACCESS

23andMe Celiac Disease Risk Markers
Pebble Pals

In libraries we tend to think of access to information (ie. books and journals) first and foremost. Next we think of access to the buildings, and accessible design. With online information, we think of web accessibility. When we talk about the digital divide we mean access to certain types of technology and networking. With makerspaces we think of access to completely different types of technology. Somewhere along the line we usually mention the skills needed to use these things, but I’m not sure that skills are considered part of the challenge of access. I’m thinking the question of access may be bigger than any of these, and in healthcare, there may be portions of access that are broader and/or narrower than what we usually consider.

The first image above is a snippet from one of my 23andMe health reports. Yeah, the ones that the FDA has told them not to do anymore. Luckily, I got in before that happened. This is just a tiny part of an idea. What’s important isn’t just access to personalized genomics information, or to 23andMe, or even to the health reports. What’s important is a bigger challenge — that the increasing demands on the healthcare system are driving more engagement by and with patients, and there are needs and demands for a very type of information than has usually been made available about health for people who are not medical professionals. There is a need for access to tools and skills that have traditionally fallen outside the purview of the patient.

The second image is of Pebble watches, a wearable technology tool that connects to smart phones and sensors and can be used for games and utility, but also for personal health management. The Maker Movement philosophy has come to healthcare in a HUGE way, and shows no signs of going away. Not only does healthcare need to acknowledge and accept this, but also needs to support, provide access to skills and training, create tools for integrating personal data with electronic health records, and beyond. There are ‘new’ buzzwords giving a glimpse into some of what we could be doing and what might fit into healthcare makerspaces and healthcare maker faires. Here are just a few.

Participatory medicine
individualized medicine
personalized medicine
personal genomics
quantified self
self-trackers
n=1 studies
DIY biology
biohacking
microbiomics
sensors
wearable technology

I don’t know about you, but my brain is going, “Whoa.” How on earth has this not already happened in a HUGE way?

SUSTAINABILITY

Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013: "Be My Sunshine" Heart Box Pic of the day - Vinegars & Pickles Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013

Hang around with folk in public health for any length of time at all and you start hearing about diet management, outreach, food deserts, community health, environmental health, risk science, and related concepts. An awful lot of what happens in public health is trying to help people and communities develop better ways to create healthy places and lifestyles. This can be growing urban gardens, canning your own produce, putting in solar-powered energy cells, making your own sensors to detect air pollution, and much much more. This is a huge area for connecting what’s happening in maker communities with public health.

PERSONAL PROBLEMSOLVING

Cool Toys Pic of the Day - Maker Movement Meets Healthcare Cool Toys Pic of the Day - Maker Movement Meets Healthcare Detroit Maker Faire 2013 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire 2013

We all have problems, we all have challenges in our lives. People with chronic health conditions or caring for someone with a chronic health condition maybe have more, but we can all benefit from skills to help us identify problems, brainstorm possible solutions, and design ways to implement those solutions whether by ourselves or in collaboration with other talented folk. In the Maker Movement, there are a lot of examples of people helping other people to create solutions for both interesting and ordinary problems. Spoons that are easier to grip, glasses that don’t wobble when your hands shake, shoes that sense obstructions you can’t see and warn you, sensors as jewelry or tattoos to monitor your vital signs — these are all examples of creative solutions to personal problems, and there are a LOT more examples out there.

So, are you in? Want to help? When do we start?

Health Fair Meet Maker Faire! Part One

Barbara Stripling for NLW14 on the Declaration for the Right to Libraries

I want a health-themed maker faire. I want it so bad I can TASTE it! And I want it to happen, like, yesterday. Or right now. But let me back up. Here’s what happened. Monday, April 14, 2014, Barbara Stripling came to town to talk about the Declaration for the Right to Libraries. You can read more about her morning talk in the Storify.

To abbreviate DRASTICALLY, the gist of the idea is that libraries overwhelmingly change lives for the better, and that people everywhere have a right to the resources that will support them in taking charge of changing their lives for the better. One of the ways in which libraries have traditionally helped people change their lives for the better is through providing free access to information, education, and entertainment. That’s what Andrew Carnegie was thinking about when he funded the creation of thousands of free public libraries.

October 19, 1903

“Increase our wages,” the workers demanded. “What good is a book to a man who works 12 hours a day, six days a week?” Nasaw says Carnegie thought he knew better and replied to his critics this way: “If I had raised your wages, you would have spent that money by buying a better cut of meat or more drink for your dinner. But what you needed, though you didn’t know it, was my libraries and concert halls. And that’s what I’m giving to you.” How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into A Library Legacy http://www.npr.org/2013/08/01/207272849/how-andrew-carnegie-turned-his-fortune-into-a-library-legacy

One of the ways in which libraries have more recently helped people change their lives for the better is through providing free access to the Internet, software, printers, makerspaces, 3d printers, and a wide variety of other tools and resources and skills that empower people to make things to better their lives, and which they could not afford to try if they had to buy the necessary resources out of their own personal budgets. From baking special holiday cakes to commemorate old family traditions with pans from the library to creating a new career and developing new marketable skills, the library can be the place.

“I had these inventions in my head but didn’t know I could make them myself,” Roth explained. So he spent his remaining dollars on a membership and a few introductory courses… Fast forward a few years to spring 2013. Roth is now an entrepreneur with a funded laser company… His dream is to build his own version of TechShop called “the Learning Shelter” that specifically caters to the homeless.” Homeless to hacker: How the Maker Movement changed one man’s life http://venturebeat.com/2013/05/16/homeless-to-hacker-how-the-maker-movement-changed-one-mans-life/

That quote is about Marc Roth, who was homeless when he used his assistance money to purchase a membership to a local makerspace. Perhaps the nicest thing about makerspaces in public libraries is that you don’t need to purchase a membership!

Well, towards the end of Barbara’s talk, seemingly almost as an afterthought, she mentioned that the White House is sponsoring its first Makerfaire! And, naturally, the American Library Association is talking with them about this. Barbara gave warm praise to Kristin Fontichiaro, a University of Michigan faculty member who is working with makerspaces in schools and libraries. And then she said something like, “If any of the rest of you have ideas for innovative work in this space that we should be keeping in mind, please come see me after the talk.”

Well, I wasn’t first in line, but I was most definitely in line. I wanted to ensure that when the Maker Movement / Makerspaces / Maker Faires are discussed, health is not forgotten. Every Maker Faire I’ve attended has had multiple presenters talking about something related to health. I have lots of ideas, and lots of examples. So Barbara then said, “Email me. I’ll try to include this topic in our conversations with the White House. But. Keep it short. Not TOO many examples!” That’s why I started this blogpost. I have literally thousands of links to examples of maker activity connected with health. How to choose just the few most important ones? ARGH!!

Scribbling notes

I scribbled notes and ideas all day, searching related topics and shoving links into a file as fast as I can, when I realized I’ve done it again. I had too much to start with, and now I had even MORE too much! The challenge / opportunity lies in that, when you really look closely at it, EVERY tool, technique, or technology involved in the Maker Movement is or has, can or could, or should be used in healthcare! That’s a LOT of opportunity. And that’s how this grand adventure started.