Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: grijoh11

Week 9 Entry

“You’re printing DiaBs!”

“Not the whole thing,” Lester said. “A lot of the logic needs an FPGA burner. And we can’t do some of the conductive elements, either. But yeah, about 90 percent of the DiaB can be printed in a DiaB.”

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.


This week I have been thinking a lot about Indra’s net and the extension of one thing into the next.  We are like 3d printers.  We can produce, with help, new almost identical iterations of ourselves, and then these iterations can do the same.  We build 3d printers and they can build themselves.  We are related to most things in this world and our daily interactions with everything should reflect this relation.  If I’ve learned anything from my experience as an ethnographer it’s that we are all the same, 3d printers, technology, students and teachers.

STL Iteration

Rotation: |


This is a cube with the code to create a cube etched into it.  A cube inside of a cube.

Week 8 Entry

During Week 8 I had another 3d scanning experience.  This time not only was I being watch by my fellow classmates but also by Evergreen’s photographer Shauna Bittle.  As I was scanning Jordan my image was also being taken, a scan within a scan.  I suddenly could understand the self consciousness described by those I had previously scanned as I felt it for myself with every photo Shauna snapped.  Is my hair okay? Am I standing up straight?  At the end of the experience, my overall feeling was positive.  These experiences are what makes us more comfortable next time.

This post got one comment...It's from someone special though...Anyone recognize the name?

This post got one comment…It’s from someone special though…Anyone recognize the name?

Code is Speech, freedom fight

 img11 ZSpeech

In the following post I will answer the 5 questions presented by Cultural Anthropology ( after their review of the primary research article CODE IS SPEECH: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers by Gabriella Coleman.  This article is about how the Open Source community is fighting against the “dominate regime” of intellectual property and highlights two programmers and the movement and protests that they have provoked to have code fall under the rights of free speech.



1. What is the distinction between “free speech” and “free beer” and why is this difference significant for the hackers Coleman discusses?

“Free speech” differs from “free beer” in relation to software in that “free speech” software can be used and altered as a building block for new software and “free beer” software just means that you can download it for free, but that’s it.  “free beer” just means that you didn’t have to pay any money for it, “free speech” software you have as much power to do with it what you please as the original developer.


2. Is the technical work of writing code, designing software, etc. inherently political?  If so, in what ways?  If not, how are such activities politicized? 

I think that anything worth lots of money will eventually become political.  Once the software industry started creating billionaires I think that it became political.  The powers that be will always try and exploit any situation, the issue here is that people are making their code available for free and someone wants to make money off of them.


3. How did the epistemological shift from software as property to software as speech occur?

There was a growing school of thought between academics and programmers that the act of programming should be thought of as literary, it then was related to copyright and literary creation and naturally evolved into writing and free speech.  Programmer’s technical training also made it easier to adapt to the understanding of laws and how to use them in their favor to not allow the copyright regime to dictate and restrict creativity.



4. According to Coleman, how does equating source code with speech relate to liberalism as a political philosophy?  How does F/OSS embody the principles of liberalism?

Liberalism as a political philosophy generally support ideas such as free speech, civil rights, free trade, freedom of religion…This is the same philosophy that the Open Source Software community is trying to follow within the software philosophy.  Any code you write should be treated no differently than a book or poem.  You have the right to speak your opinion.


5. In what ways is the ability to challenge formal legal structures made possible by the digital form with which hackers work; how might the efficacy of their arguments change if they were working with an analog or print form instead?

I’ve left the last question open to those who wish to read the article and answer question 5 in the comment section below.  I look forward to reading your responses.


The article can be found here:



Article Reference:


Coleman, Gabriella. “Code Is Speech: Legal Tinkering, Expertise, and Protest among Free and Open Source Software Developers.” Cultural Anthropology 24, no. 3 (2009): 420-454.

Intellectual Property rights and 3d printing

Intellectual Property rights and 3d printing

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.09.59 PM

            This post is a bridge to a primary research paper about “The intellectual property implications of low-cost 3D printing” written by Bradshaw, S., Bowyer, A. and Haufe, P.   This issue is one that we should all be aware of when designing and 3d printing objects that might resemble something similar in design.

The author of this article sets out to help us ‘makers’ decide what is the proper or improper way of using 3d printing technology and how to not break intellectual property laws in the process.  Below is a direct layout of the top 4 classes of IP laws that you could be breaking while designing and 3d printing.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 5.58.24 PM

See the linked article for more information if you have any concerns about your designs to get a more in-depth explanation on each class.


Here is a link to the original article in PDF form:



Article Reference

Bradshaw, S., Bowyer, A. and Haufe, P. (2010) The intellectual property implications of low-cost 3D printing. ScriptEd, 7 (1). pp. 5-31. ISSN 1744-2567 

Week Seven Entry

“Perry gave him a mock glare. “You have no right to say anything on this score.” He darted a glance at Suzanne and saw that she was blushing.”

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.

The further into Makers we get, the less Suzanne is observing and the more she is being observed.  This is similar to my experience this week when I gave a short demo of 3d scanning.  I really enjoyed hearing all of the different observations from my classmates in Sarah’s seminar group, it really gave me an outside perspective of 3d scanning.  Some thought that it appeared as though Zev and I were participating in some sort of romantic dance, this is something that is hard to see as a participant.  I’m excited to see what will come from the 3d scans and to engage in more conversation about this new handheld technology.


Blue Rabbit Images

The following images should provide an idea of what the OpenJSCAD platform looks like and provides examples of basic code.  Throughout the process of choosing, creating and taking images related to my project I see how deceiving imagery can be within my particular project.  The two more complicated designs that I made myself, don’t really look that complicated but took me three weeks to figure out.  This process has helped me develop more possible ideas for a final 3d printed object as it has helped me visualize what I have been working on and what will best represent my project.

Above is my most complicate design.  Spheres that get bigger in radius each time but also stay the same distance apart so they appear to be stacked on top of each other.

Above is my most complicate design. Spheres that get bigger in radius each time but also stay the same distance apart so they appear to be stacked on top of each other.

This is an example of an advanced design created by Joost Niewenhuijse, a member of the OpenJSCAD community.

This is an example of an advanced design created by Joost Niewenhuijse, a member of the OpenJSCAD community.

This is another advanced design done by Derrick Oswald, its a 3d globe.

This is another advanced design done by Derrick Oswald, its a 3d globe.

This is a prototype of what I want to print for my 3d iteration.  Its a cube with the OpenJSCAD code to make a cube carved into it.  A cube within a cube.  I made this in Blender.

This is a prototype of what I want to print for my 3d iteration. Its a cube with the OpenJSCAD code to make a cube carved into it. A cube within a cube. I made this in Blender.

One of my first more complicated designs in OpenJSCAD exploring the power of the "for" loop.

One of my first more complicated designs in OpenJSCAD exploring the power of the “for” loop.

This is a creative piece of imagery done in GIMP inspired by OpenJSCAD.

This is a creative piece of imagery done in GIMP inspired by OpenJSCAD.

Rapid Prototyping and the role of Ethnographers


The following post contains quotes from a research paper written by Salina Christmas a student at University College London in a Core Course in Digital Anthropology.  This research paper is about “the implications of rapid prototyping and how ethnography could contribute to an understanding of the challenges ahead”.  Our author touches on some core topics discussed in our program and this is one of the few people asking the same types of questions we are.


“There aren’t many anthropological works on rapid prototyping and its 3D printing practitioners. Due to the lack of references, the anthropologist could, primarily, refer to ethnographic works within anthropology that have been carried out on the modes of labour, kinship and sociotechnical systems to inform his research on rapid prototyping.”

This was a valuable piece of advice that will help those interested in further researching 3d printing ethnography’s.  Because there is so little written about ‘makers’ and ’3d printing’ or ‘rapid prototyping’ our author suggests that you could look at other aspects surrounding the topic and then relate them to your experiences within the field.


“For three decades, 3D computer aided (CAD) software has enabled industrial designers, architects and imaging engineers to visualise their concepts digitally. The CAD software helps the designer to visualise the artefact he wants to fabricate in image slices. He then exports the design as a stereolitography (STL) file (Onuh and Yusuf, 1999: 308). STL is a markup language used to encode digital 3D models. But the absence of a fast 3D printing mechanism in the past meant that they depended on a handful of “skilled craftsmen” to manually produce the prototypes. This created a bottleneck in the workflow and delayed the product development time. Consequently, designers had less freedom to update the designs, and were discouraged from exploring other solutions before tooling went into production, resulting in parts which at best were seldom optimized, and at worst, did not function properly.”

This quote describes the evolution of the 3d printer and the role it plays in rapid prototyping.  Before 3d printers designers were slaves to the few skilled craftsmen that could produce their prototype, slowing down their creative process and often causing the designers to give up on their design because it did not function properly the first time.



“rapid prototyping could affect the classical social structures built around the industrialised work processes as the individual worker begins to assume the roles of creator and producer, worker and capitalist”

What type of affect will rapid prototyping have on the current social structure?  The individual can not only be the creator but the producer as well.  How is the different from being both a worker and a capitalist?


“Rapid prototyping will challenge a dominant labour system that, since the First Industrial Revolution, has been inflexible. The inevitability of the technology being a ‘desktop operation’ – like computing, musical composition, sewing and inkjet printing – means that the worker who will be “creator and producer” would switch from a machine-based labour to the one focused on tools.

‘… Tool use is authentic and fosters autonomy; one owns and controls one’s own tools and isn’t dependent on or exploited by others. When we use machines, in contrast, we must work at rhythms not of our own making, and we become ensnared in the supralocal relations necessary for their production, distribution, and maintenance. To the extent that we become dependent on machines we do not own, the stage is set for exploitation.’ (Pfaffenberger, 1992: 509).”

This is the foundation for the maker movement.  Owning the tools that you use and rely on makes it much harder for someone to exploit you.  This shift from machine-based labour to tool based labour is the Maker Revolution.



“The anthropologist also has to look at the modes of knowledge transfer, and how they happen, within rapid prototyping. Rapid prototyping isn’t widely taught at colleges. The principle form for exchanging knowledge for its practitioners is YouTube. Although rapid prototyping is highly technical, the techniques are not acquired via academic journals or educational programmes, but via the informal channel mentioned, and ‘by doing’ at the workplace. To understand why the occupational discourse takes place on YouTube, the anthropologist could consult works on apprenticeship (Brown, 1979; Epstein, 1998).”

As an anthropologist studying 3d printing this quote shows me the value of my work in a field that few have studied by not taking for granted the opportunity to study 3d printing as an ethnographer.  Is Youtube just another way of apprenticeship?  Now that rapid prototyping is being taught in schools, are we the first to conduct ethnography’s on this topic?



“Crucially, the anthropologist has to determine how disruptive rapid prototyping can be. It has yet to make a big social impact due its inaccessibility. But this warrants the attention of the anthropologist. Any attempts to appropriate the technology for an activity it isn’t designed for, such as art, or food preparation (2), should be monitored closely.”

At the time of this article, 2010, 3d printers were not as accessible as they are now.  Now that they have been commercially marketed to the general public we as anthropologists have a responsibility to study and determine the possible negative and positive affects rapid prototyping may have on society.



“The anthropologist needs to appreciate a technology in order to understand it. The processes involved in the interpretative work within ethnography is, like craftsmanship, socially situated (Joyce, 2005). Ethnomethodologically informed ethnography (EM) of knowledge transmission is important in examining the problems relating to technological determinism and design (Crabtree, 2000; Woodhouse & Patton, 2004). For a better appreciation of a technology, the ethnographer should consider ‘studying up’ (Gusterson, 1997).”

What better way to understand a technology as an anthropologist than to participate in that technology.  This is exactly what we are currently doing in Making Meaning Matter.  We participate in the technology and through this participation we have a better understanding of what it is we are looking at when on the observation side.  Can too much participation create biases within your observations?


Here is a download link to the original paper:




Pfaffenberger, B. 1992. ‘Social Anthropology of Technology’, Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 491-516.

Crabtree, A. 2000. ‘Ethnomethodologically informed ethnography and information system design’, Journal of the American Society for Information Science 51 (7): 666-682.

Gusterson, H. 1997. ‘Studying up: revisited methodology,’ PoLAR: Political and Legal

Anthropology Review 20 (1): 114-119.

Joyce, K. 2005. ‘Appealing images: magnetic resonance imaging and the production of authoritative knowledge’, Social Studies of Science 35 (3): 437-462.







Week Six Entry

“Do I give up my agency when I give up my physicality to John with a scanner? How do I maintain a sense of self when my tangible body is abstracted?”


“I don’t see it as a woman (or man) when its on the screen. I try to get a good scan, I really don’t see you as that (an object)”


This is an attempt to explain but by no means justify a small aspect of the objectification of women within our society.  I think that often the one directly responsible for executing this objectification within the creative world of digital media is often blinded in the moment of creativity.  This was my experience while scanning Lauren and then having a conversation with her about it days later.  Was my goal as the creator of the scan to show her as an object? No.  But now, stepping back, I can see how easily this image of her, although not my intention, could be used to objectify her.  I am reminded that we as ‘Makers’ must take a step back from the creative process and take responsibility for the things we make and how they may affect the world.

Blue Rabbit Iteration Two

Blue Rabbit Iteration #2

 John Grieco

The idea I have been working with is very personal to me and directly relates to my current interests in computer programming. I decided not to focus on a specific object but an alternative way of making ones object or idea 3d printable in the future. The alternative way to design 3d models that I have been exploring is through the use of a programming language called Javascript and an application called OpenJSCad. By the end of the quarter I hope to contribute to the open source community a number of shapes and objects submitted to the OpenJsCAD github examples page.

The idea of using Javascript to move from idea, text, image and then 3d printed object is a complicated one that contains many versions of text’s, ideas and images within itself. Not only will I have to explain this idea to my professors and classmates through text in the form of the very iteration you are currently reading I will also have to do the same to my computer in a completely different coded language. By using Javascript code in the form of text I am able to explain to my computer the simple object I wish to create. This form of 3d design differs from what most of my classmates are doing in that I am communicating with my computer by using mainly text and they are communicating mainly through dragging and clicking. The dragging and clicking technique is possible because someone programed a user-friendly interface so designers could create without having to write strenuous code, this allows for faster and more efficient design.

3d modeling software does allow for faster design but by using it are you potentially giving up ownership of the designs you create? “If you’re not able to open and replace the batteries in your iPod or replace the fuel-sender switch on your Chevy truck, you don’t really own it,” Mr. Jalopy argues. “The terms of ownership are still dictated by the company that assembled it and glued the iPod shut so that you couldn’t get into it.”(Jalopy, The argument presented by Mr. Jalopy applies not just to hardware like your iPod but to software as well. This illusion that you have the freedom to create anything you want with the use of their software only masks the real objective that you only have this freedom as long as they allow you to have it. While TinkerCAD is a great tool for design as is an iPod for playing music, the user often doesn’t know what is going on inside the machine or behind the UI (User Interface) of a web application or software package. This quote inspired me to take ownership of my designs and embrace the DIY mentality of the open source community through programming.

Now having been briefly introduced what is going on behind the software, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was missing out on by learning how to navigate the user interface and not actually having any knowledge of what was going on under the hood. This is why I feel the idea of 3d design by way of a programming language is important and is a part of the larger discussion within the ‘Maker’ community about ownership and the value in being able to build something from the ground up. I think that we are often too reliant on things we do not understand. This practice is dangerous because it puts the power of who can create in the hands of those that understand the technology. At any point the owners of the software could take their software away or require you to purchase it, then where would you be? By learning how to build something from the ground up, through programming, you are empowering yourself as a user.

Not only does using something you don’t understand put you at the mercy of the creator, it also has the potential to make you lazy and compliant. “To most, computers are a means to an end, not something you want to learn about. A doctor isn’t interested in how an EKG machine works; he just wants to use it and read the results. A structural engineer doesn’t concern himself with how his calculator works; he just wants to use it to calculate loads.”(Smith, Programing may be a dying art. There is little motivation to learn how to program something when someone has already made an application that can do what you wished to accomplish. With spell check and auto correct on every computer and smartphone what motivation do we have to learn to spell words correctly? I don’t want to use computers as just a means to an end. I want to understand how shapes are generated and keep the dying art of programming alive within Making Meaning Matter.

The lack of documentation about 3d design by way of programming just enforces my concerns about the power software developers have over your creativity. The only group of people I found interested in using OpenJSCad and Javascript as a 3d design tool were the 226 members of their Google + community. But looking at the parent question to my idea, the importance of being able to create something from the ground up is a thought best described by author Douglass Rushkoff. “When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them.”(Douglass 7)

In Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age, Douglass Rushkoff argues that now more than ever it’s time to learn to program: “Understanding programming — either as a real programmer or even, as I’m suggesting, as more of a critical thinker — is the only way to truly know what’s going on in a digital environment, and to make willful choices about the roles we play.” He suggests that you take control of your fate in a world of growing technology or it will take control of you. “It’s really that simple: Program, or be programmed. Choose the former, and you gain access to the control panel of civilization. Choose the latter, and it could be the last real choice you get to make.”(Douglass 8) I don’t want to be controlled; I want access the control panel of my future.

Through researching the value of computer programming, the idea of creating something tangible by way of a programming language made me realize that in the current stages of my development the object that I end up creating is irrelevant. The skills that I learn along the way are the most important and meaningful aspect of my ‘making’ experience. Programming is a tool that more and more artists will be using and it should be looked at as another medium for design. “Programming is no longer an exclusive domain of a particular discipline. The time has come for art and design to embrace programming and make it its own.”(Amiri 2011)







“Are You Sure You Own Your Stuff? : NPR.” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

“Programming: A Dying Art? | Tim Smith |” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Rushkoff, Douglas. Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age. New York: OR Books, 2010. Print.

Amiri, F. (2011), Programming as Design: The Role of Programming in Interactive Media Curriculum in Art and Design. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 30: 200–210. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-8070.2011.01680.x




Week Five Entry

“What would Suzanne do if there wasn’t anything going on?”

-Sarah Williams

“She would leave and move on the next great story.”

-John Grieco

Lauren Scan

This week during our observation period I felt as thought there was a lack of motivation and creative energy amongst my peers.  Perhaps this was due to the fact that we had just reached the halfway point of the quarter and the information that once inspired us had become stagnant.  After bringing this up with Sarah, she recommended that instead of complaining about the lack of inspiration I should become the inspiration.  The role of the observer quickly switched to being the observed.  I decided to introduce a new concept of 3d scanning as it relates to our program to those interested and this created an inspirational spark many needed to fuel their Blue Rabbit project.

After Piracy

After Piracy: Reflections of Industrial Designers in Taiwan on Sustainable Innovations 


This article review is one geared towards those interested in cultural studies surrounding piracy, intellectual property and design. The article, After Piracy, is written by Yi-Chien Jessica Lin, the author of Fake Stuff: China and the Rise of Counterfeit Goods, and examines the piracy of goods and ideas within Taiwanese culture. Is there such thing as an original idea anymore? Does piracy or the imitation of others ideas help fuel creativity? How is piracy being used to help advance the modern cultural identity of a peoples often forgotten in pop culture? These are the main questions I will explore in the following paragraphs.

Intellectual property or creation of the mind is something that is protected by law against copying or imitation. The reasoning behind Intellectual Property laws is to advance creativity and innovation. If you cannot make money off of an existing idea, this should motivate you to come up with your own original ideas. Our author traces Trademark Laws back to the US industrial revolution and argues “that the introduction of such laws generate conditions for struggles over culture, ownership and property.” Most likely I believe to encourage the capitalist way of life.

This brings up the question of what an original idea is and if the concept even exists anymore. Mark Twain would argue that there are no original ideas, “For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.” This means that every new idea is essentially just a pirated version of a number of previous thoughts and ideas.

Piracy in Taiwan, as examined by Lin goes hand in hand with innovation and the creative process. Young Taiwanese designers, when reflecting on piracy, “argued that copying facilitates new ideas of creativity from everyday life experiences.” I believe this to be true and if everyone can get past of the idea of Intellectual Property more innovation will occur.

Piracy is not only being used as a facilitator for new innovation but also as a way of advancing cultural identity within the often forced western influences. “In popular music, the remixing of lyrics with Chinese cultural references and western rhythms is more and more popular and widely accepted by the younger generation in Taiwan, Mainland China and even the population on the west coast in North America.” By making these ‘remixes’ of western influenced songs and making them relevant to their own culture, this allows them to preserve their culture instead of falling victim to western globalization.

Piracy is not a black and white issue and I now feel well informed on the positive effects that piracy may have on cultures outside of my own. I have attached the original article to this post and hope that my efforts will encourage you to read it.


“There Is No Such Thing as An Original Idea | …In the Meantime.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
“After Piracy: Reflections on Sustainable Design by Taiwanese Designers | Yi-Chieh Lin –” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

Image from:

“Music Piracy Study Finds No Link to Decreased Digital Revenues | BGR.” N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.

Week Four Entry

John Grieco


Week Four Entry

“Have you managed to fill the flea market?” It had taken Perry a long time to fill his, and still he had a couple of dogs—a tarot reader and a bong stall, a guy selling high-pressure spray-paint cans and a discount porn stall that sold naked shovelware by the petabyte.”[356]

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.

“Yeah, I got proteges up and down New England. A lot of them settled here after the crash. One place is as good as another, and the housing was wicked-cheap once the economy disappeared. They upped stakes and came to Boston as soon as I put the word out. I think everyone’s waiting for the next big thing.”[356]

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.

While observing my classmates this week, with the assigned readings fresh in mind, I am reminded of the creative flea market Cory Doctorow described in Makers.  As I walked around the room I observed small groups of people sharing with one another the projects they have been working on.  Musical instruments, Sunglasses, Bells and Vases among many other designs ready to be turned into physicals object at any moment.  Right before my eyes was the Making Meaning Matter flea market of what I am confident is filled with meaningful things; much different from any flea market I had ever attended.

Blue Rabbit Iteration One

Iteration One: The Idea

John Grieco



The idea that I have chosen to explore over the remaining seven weeks of Making Meaning Matter is how to produce 3d printable shapes and objects with the programming language Javascript. By the end of the quarter I hope to contribute to the open source community a number of shapes and objects submitted to the OpenJsCAD github examples page. I have been inspired by the DIY community to take 3d printing and design as deep as possible.

I see three levels of 3d modeling and design; the first level is finding a model already made on Thingiverse, and printing it. The second is creating your own model using one of the many 3d modeling programs like TinkerCAD or Blender. The third is pealing back the skin of a 3d modeling program and writing the code manually for the shapes and objects you wish to create.

3d modeling programs have many advantages over manual coding. Using a 3d modeling program to create a square is much quicker than programming a square. A square can be created and adjusted in TinkerCAD in a matter of seconds and programming the same object takes much longer. In Blender, you can create many shapes and objects that may take months or years to figure out how to do manually. The biggest advantage that 3d modeling software has over manual programming is the learning curve. A designer can spend a few hours with TinkerCAD and feel comfortable with the basic functions and design techniques as with programming it is practically like learning a foreign language.

This brings me to my question. Why would anyone want to take the time to program 3d models when the same thing can be accomplished in a fraction of the time using software already developed?

“If you’re not able to open and replace the batteries in your iPod or replace the fuel-sender switch on your Chevy truck, you don’t really own it,” Mr. Jalopy argues. “The terms of ownership are still dictated by the company that assembled it and glued the iPod shut so that you couldn’t get into it.”(Jalopy, The argument presented by Mr. Jalopy applies not just to hardware like your iPod but to software as well. While TinkerCAD is a great tool for design as is an iPod for playing music, the user often doesn’t know what is going on inside the machine or behind the UI (User Interface) of a web application or software package. This quote inspired me to take ownership of my designs and embrace the DIY mentality of the open source community through programming.

“To most, computers are a means to an end, not something you want to learn about. A doctor isn’t interested in how an EKG machine works; he just wants to use it and read the results. A structural engineer doesn’t concern himself with how his calculator works; he just wants to use it to calculate loads.”(Smith, Programing may be a dying art. There is little motivation to learn how to program something when someone has already made an application that can do what you wished to accomplish. Technology can make us lazy. With spell check and auto correct on every computer and smartphone what motivation do we have to learn to spell words correctly? I don’t want to use computers as just a means to an end. I want to understand how shapes are generated and keep the dying art of programming alive within Making Meaning Matter.

I can only hope that my contributions to the open source design community will have a positive impact on future designs that could years later make a difference in world. An amazing thing about the open source community is that your code or design has the possibility of influencing someone in ways that you never imagined. It’s a piece of you, forever embedded to be used by all.

I also wish to provoke more conversations about what it means to have ownership of something and encourage others to understand how shapes and objects are generated in the 3d modeling software they use. A greater understanding of this software enables us to trouble shoot when things aren’t working instead of just being helpless victims of the application. “Computational thinking is a skill that everyone should learn. Even if you never become a professional software engineer, you will benefit from knowing how to think this way. It will help you understand and master technology of all sorts and solve problems in almost any discipline.”(Crow,

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 11.42.12 PM



“Are You Sure You Own Your Stuff? : NPR.” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

“Programming: A Dying Art? | Tim Smith |” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

“Why Every Child Should Learn to Code | Dan Crow |” N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.


Week Three Entry

Week Three Entry 10/19/14

John Grieco

“ Could it be possible? Her first thought when Jimmy called was that she’d made a terrible mistake by leaving the Merc, but if this was what the paper had come to, she had left just in time, even if her own life-raft was sinking, it had kept her afloat for a while.”

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.

“He sucked air between his teeth. “That’s what the whole freaking chain does on a top story, Suzanne. You’re outperforming fifty local papers combined.”

Excerpt From: Doctorow, Cory. “Makers.” iBooks.

This week I observed many students really grasping the possibilities of the technology that has been presented to them.  There has been an increased interest in the actual 3d printers, observing them as they print and even the sounds the printer makes.  This has led to a greater understanding of how to create more efficient 3d models and answered many students questions about why some models fail and others succeed.  Modeling has evolved drastically since week one and students are designing more thoughtful designs in comparison to the trinkets of the previous week.  The main idea from my observations this week is understanding your value as an individual.  My classmates are beginning to realize that they, like Suzanne, have to ability to be entrepreneurs and potentially have rapid prototyping abilities just as powerful as an entire factory or large corporation.

3d Printing Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration

3d printing of composite calcium phosphate and collagen scaffolds for bone regeneration

Article review by John Grieco

            This week’s post is a review of a primary research article I found relevant to our program and is a great example of making something that matters.  As many of you have figured out, the task of making something meaningful is not easy.  Also, you are the only judge of what is meaningful to you, no one can tell you that what you make this quarter isn’t meaningful or doesn’t matter.  With that said, I have come to the conclusion that for me, making something that has a positive impact on someone or something else i.e. the Environment, seems to be the most meaningful way of creation.  Not only does this week’s primary research article address how 3d printing can be applied in the medical field but also the possibilities of alternative filament.  I know many of you have expressed the want to make and use alternative filaments and I hope that this post will further inspire you.

The article in review examines the possible use of low temperature 3d printing of a custom filament made from calcium phosphate and collagen to produce synthetic bone graft alternatives.  The authors hoped that their efforts would improve the current techniques used for bone grafts and bone implants.  The technique of 3d printing used in this experiment is similar to what we are familiar with when using the makerbot in that individual layers create the object.  Their process differs with the type of printer and material used.

The printer used is a ZPrinter 450 and the material this printer requires is in the form of a very fine powder.  The ZPrinter 450 was modified to print a mixture of calcium phosphate and an acidic binding solution.  Calcium phosphate is a bioceramic used in reconstructive surgery due to its biocompatibility and similarities to real bone. After designing the specific bone replacement using 3d modeling software similar to what we are using this quarter, the part is processed and then coated in collagen.  Collagen is used to promote cell growth of the human cells cultured on the surface of the 3d printed object.  The authors also discovered that by adding collagen to the calcium phosphate and binding material before printing increased cell viability and strength of the final object.

The newly created artificial bones, in this case a femur, were used to replace broken femurs on a number of mice.  The mice then were monitored over a nine-week healing period and then euthanized so that their tissues could be harvested and then analyzed.  The results of this study found that the new technique used for generating bone scaffolds did not produce artificial bone that was sufficiently osteoinductive.  Meaning that the new 3d printed bone material did not react adequately with the actual bone of the subject’s body and was not able to completely heal.

I am interested in the future application of 3d printing in the medical field and studies like this are continually pushing the technology towards new ways of helping one another.  Attached is a video of the printer our author’s used in their experiment and how it differs from the printing we are familiar with.

Click here to view the embedded video.

source article: “3D Printing of Composite Calcium Phosphate and Collagen Scaffolds for Bone Regeneration.” N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.

Amateur Drawings Wanted!!

Michael Taussig’s “I Swear I Saw This”


This is my reflection on an article written about the underestimated value of drawing and sketching alongside field notes and how this very much relates to our studies this quarter.  Michael Taussig, the author of Pearls, released a book in 2011 titled, I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own and a professional Anthropologist earlier this year wrote an article highlighting some quotes from his book.  This article not only contains some inspiring quotes but also got me really exited about adding sketches and drawings to my field notes in the weeks to come.

This quarter in Making Meaning Matter, we each will be playing the role of an embedded journalist, tasked with observing our classmates as they experience 3d design and 3d printing.  As we observe, it’s important to document our observations inside of a journal or field notebook for later reflection.  This documentation can come in various forms and mediums and Michael Taussig encourages us to add drawings and sketches to our field notes as another ethnographic field method.  Below are a few quotes I found relevant to MMM, from the mentioned article, along with a short reflection.


“…the notebook is actually an extension of oneself if not more self than oneself, like an entirely new organ alongside one’s heart and brain, to name but the more evocative organs of our inner self. What this new organ does is incorporate other worlds into one’s own. Is this not obvious when Benjamin himself states that the genuine collector’s object do not come alive in him, but rather it is he who lives in them?” (105).


Where does one object end and another begin?  A journal is an extension of you, your thoughts and observations recorded to be summoned for later reflection.  Your journal is the connection between you and those you observe.


“…photograph is a taking, the drawing a making…John Berger certainly thinks so, with this enigmatic notion that a photograph stops time, while drawing encompasses it…” (21).

In a class where we will be ‘Making’ most of the quarter I thought that the above quote seemed appropriate to share.  Taussig explores the idea that photography is an act of ‘taking’ that stops time and drawing an act of ‘making’ that encompasses it.  By drawing an observation you are making a new interpretation of this observation instead of just taking an exact copy of it.


“We amateurs feel little hesitation in speaking, although we are not professional speakers, just as we run, although we are not professional athletes, make love, swim, or email, et cetera. Most of us even live life amateurishly. But drawing, for the amateur? off limits. Drawing is precious in every sense of the word, except for the Littlies” (33-34).


Many of you, like myself, don’t draw because we just don’t see ourselves as very good at it.  It is important to note that we do many things everyday that we may not be the best at.  Taussig reminds us that we speak although we are not professional speakers, we run although we are not professional athletes and in fact most of our daily activities are quite amateur.  Don’t deprive yourself or others of something that you may not think you are good at.  There is value in all expression, draw in your journals, as it is just another interpretation of your observation, an extension of your mind.


I hope this blog post inspires you all to go check out the article written about Michael Taussig’s I Swear I Saw This: Drawings in Fieldwork Notebooks, Namely My Own and explore the many other quotes from his book.  Lets get excited about our task as Ethnographers and enjoy the many creative methods of recording our observations.  A copy of the actual book will on reserve for our class at the library for those interested in the full text.

Week One Entry


“Really impressive.  So that’s what you’re going to do for Kodacell, make these things out of recycled toys?”


“Nope, not quite.  That’s just for starters.  The Elmos are all about the universal availability of cycles and apparatus.  Everywhere you look, there’s devices for free that have everything you need to make anything do anything.”



My observations from our first 3d lab session are much like Suzanne’s when first being introduced to Perry and Lester’s creative process.  I found myself amazed at all the different ideas and creative energy in the room.  After the first creation, a whole world of possibilities opened up and one by one students began to realize that they had the ability to make anything, spin it around on a computer screen with the flick of a mouse and then turn their design into something tangible by way of a 3d printer.  So, no…these Makers won’t  just be making coins out of fermented corn, this is just the beginning to everything and anything.

Thinking Ethically!

Hello Making, Meaning, Matter!

My name is John Grieco and I will be one of your classmates this quarter.  My experience with conducting Ethnography’s in the technology field (mainly software) and with 3d printing, both design and hardware has really pulled me towards this program.  Not only will I be your classmate but on Thursdays I will be dedicating extra time in the CAL lab to assist those in need of any help, advice or motivation having to do with any aspect of the course, including but not limited to, 3d printing design, 3d printing, ethnography’s and cultural technology studies.  After the peer assisted lab each week I will be reviewing, on this site, my observations from the lab session and comparing them to a primary research article on Cultural Studies of Technology for relevancy.

When conducting an Ethnography or any type of research that involves collecting data from a human being it is important to respect the privacy of those you are observing.  Below I have attached an email from John McLain, Evergreen’s academic grants manager and irb administrator containing important information about conducting yourself professionally and ethically.

From: McLain, John
Sent: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 1:29 PM
To: All Staff & Faculty DL
Cc: Forman, Emmie
Subject: Human subjects review and your curriculum: Planning projects and protecting people

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As the school year starts, some of you may be planning class projects or sponsoring independent contracts that will involve collecting data or information about living human beings.   I’m writing to tell you about human subjects review (HSR) requirements at Evergreen, show you where to find HSR resources online, and explain what kinds of projects may or may not need to be reviewed.

It’s possible that the kinds of projects you or your students have submitted for human subjects review in the past may not require review going forward.  It’s also possible that, with some precautions, you and your students can design projects that protect research participants and meet your pedagogical needs without requiring human subjects review.

This message includes a lot of detail and reflects practices that have been in place for a year, but some of what I have to say may still be a departure from your previous understanding of Evergreen’s requirements, so if you or your students plan to conduct studies about living human beings, please take a few minutes and read the rest of this message.

HSR web site

The college has a multi-page web site that provides guidance and information about human subjects review at the college:  Please share it with your students. please let me know. This is some of the information available via the left navigation bar:

  • Who must apply?
  • Activities that do not need HSR
  • HSR application instructions
  • Student-conducted research guide
  • Confidentiality and anonymity
  • Informed consent
  • Using the Internet for human subjects research
  • Risk
  • Working with other organizations
  • Ethical guides for research in several disciplines and interest areas (e.g., oral history, documentary work, journalism, indigenous peoples, health and counseling, education)

 What projects require human subjects review at Evergreen?

Research projects require review and approval by Evergreen’s Institutional Review Board if they meet all of the following three criteria laid out in federal law:

  1. They involve collection of data or private identifiable information about living human beings; and
  2. They are systematic in methodology; and
  3. They are designed to contribute to generalizable knowledge — i.e. the research is intended to be applied to individuals or circumstances beyond those of the people being studied, and to be published, presented, or distributed as such.

See this web page for more information about the definition of human subjects research:

Types of projects that aren’t human subjects research and typically don’t require HSR

Some types of projects that students, faculty, and staff conduct will involve collecting information from or about people, but under most circumstances do not require an HSR application or review.  Examples include:

  • Interviews or surveys that do not collect personal or private information about human beings, such as informational interviews where the topic under study isn’t the persons being interviewed but their area of knowledge or expertise.
  • Journalism or documentary projects.
  • Oral histories.
  • Program evaluations for organizations where the information is intended for internal organizational use only to assess and improve quality.
  • Case studies.
  • Student teaching and practical experiences in clinical settings that don’t involve collecting data for the student’s own research.

For explanation and more examples of projects that typically don’t require HSR, visit:

Designing projects for classrooms and independent learning contracts to teach human research skills

We recognize the importance of providing students with the skills and knowledge that can only be gained through conducting research.  Sometimes individual students and academic programs do conduct systematic, generalizable research collecting data and private identifiable information about human beings.  The college is committed to a robust human subjects review process for student, faculty, or staff projects requiring it.

Not all student work, however, meets the three-part federal definition of reviewable research. Many student projects can be systematic in nature (involving, for example, surveys or scripted interviews) and collect data and private information about human beings.  Unless the project is generalizable, however, the project does not require human subjects review.  If you have students who wish to conduct this kind of work, they do not need to undergo a human subjects review unless the findings are generalizable (most often, this means presented, published, or kept for future use with the idea they may contribute to projects that may be presented or published).

If your class or student has a project where the primary intent is to provide a learning experience about research to students, but the findings themselves are not intended to lead to generalizable results (e.g., the student will simply write a class paper for the faculty alone or make a class presentation to other students), you or the students do not need to complete an HSR application.  Such non-reviewed class or contract projects should meet the following three criteria:

  1. Data and information collected and reported must not be identifiable.  Collected information and data should be recorded without identifying information.  Only the faculty and the student researcher should have access to the raw information or data. Researchers and faculty should keep the identity of research subjects, if known, confidential.  Findings (presentations and papers) should be shared in the educational setting only—i.e., between the faculty and student in an independent contract and within the classroom only in a course or academic program.  In sharing with other students, data should be presented in aggregate only and any potentially identifying information redacted.  Please note that names aren’t the only identifying characteristic. Sometimes combinations of demographic and other information can, depending on circumstances, allow identification of someone by inference. Data should be destroyed at the conclusion of the project.
  2. Subjects must give informed and voluntary consent.  See here for more information about consent:  In the case of classroom projects that are not generalizable, it is good practice not to collect signatures for consent, but to use a written or oral script and ask for non-written consent to participate.  This keeps the researcher from collecting any identifying information about participants.
  3. The project should present no more than minimal risk to the participants in the research.  Read below for more about risk.

For more guidance about student projects about living human beings, click here:  You can also get in touch with us for advice.

Student projects should involve no more than minimal risk of harm to subjects

It is standard practice at most colleges and universities, including Evergreen, that students may not lead projects that present more than minimal risk of harm to human subjects.  Minimal risk means, according to the law, “that the probability and magnitude of harm or discomfort anticipated in the research are not greater in and of themselves than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests.”  That’s a pretty low threshold.

Risks can be physical, psychological, or socio-economic. Students conducting projects should not collect identifiable information that could cause social or economic harm or create criminal or financial liability for the subject.  Students should also not engage in projects that risk significant emotional distress to their subjects.  Subjects that are off limits for student investigators include but are not limited to those that ask about past trauma, past or present criminal behavior, difficult or painful events (loss of loved ones, relationships problems, feelings of shame, etc.) These kinds of topics may be legitimate for generalizable research undertaken by qualified investigators, but they should not be attempted by inexperienced researchers.  In any research project, benefits of the project must outweigh risks to the subjects.  The benefit of a learning experience alone is not adequate justification for risking significant harm to someone. A trip to the library is not only safer for the people they might otherwise interact with, it often can provide a fuller and more complete understanding of the topics they wish to explore than a handful of interviews or a small survey.

With proper training and under adequate supervision of a qualified investigator, students may work on generalizable projects of this nature that have been approved by the IRB.

To read more about risk, click here:

Working together to promote sound research practices

I hope this information helps clarify the role of human subjects review at Evergreen and provides you a better understanding of what projects do and do not require review.  I also hope it might save you and your students some time and work.

Human subjects review is but one tool and process for ensuring ethical conduct of research.  Many other ethical considerations can come into play, even when research does not require HSR. The ethical guides I’ve assembled (with the contributions of many of you) at are intended to help you with that.  If you have other materials you think could be useful to include, please send them my way.

In supporting human subjects research, our first responsibility as faculty and staff is to protect people from the harm that might result from their participation.  I often tell students that good intentions are frequently not enough to protect someone from harm.  That’s why we have a review process and want to help them develop sound practices.  I am grateful for the partnership you have shown me in this work.  I will continue to be available to speak to your classes or to meet with you and students individually.

If anything raises an issue for you, I hope you feel free to question students or colleagues about their plans and intentions, to encourage them to look for potential consequences to their activities, to guide their efforts, and even to say “no” if you think that’s the right course.  Again, the resources on the new web page may be of help.  And if I can help you in any way, just pick up the phone or drop me a line. Again, I’m happy to talk things through in advance with you or your students.

Best wishes for the new academic year.

john mclain | academic grants manager and irb administrator | the evergreen state college | 360.867.6045