Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: hoptob27

Bonus CST post

blind man with caneWhat does it mean to create dimensional items with a 3D printer?

Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin? (CST handout week 3)


Before the 3D printer you would need to know how to use tools to manipulate physical materials to make material objects, as in ceramics or carpentry. Now, with a 3D printer all you need is a computer and the printer. While these tools are admittedly expensive, once you have them, it is relatively easy to use. The “work” then becomes programming the computer to respond like a human rather than using the mind and body in coordination with each other. This allows for the mind to detach from the physical realm of manipulating raw materials.


However, this leads to problems with the connection between 3D printing and the mind. The problem being that the 3D printer, or any tool for that matter, doesn’t work as well as the mind wants it to. For example, when I was trying to print my pen I kept on printing one part too large or another part too small. What I had to do was print out each piece and see if they would fit and then modify and print them out again if they did not. There were multiple occasions where I got really angry with the printer for not printing out the pen the way that I had designed it to. I had to take several deep breaths and remind myself that the printer was just a machine, a tool, a complicated tool.


This made me think back to the discussion with my peers over the Week Three CST Post handout. Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin as Malafouris described when he said “human intelligence (is) ‘spread out’ beyond the skin into culture and material world”. One of my fellow students (I can’t remember who it was) said that the mind extended out into the limbs since you use them to feel and complete tasks with. This conversation eventually led me to the conclusion that, in a metaphysical way, the mind is extended into whatever object you are using, just like the blind man extends his mind into the cane he is using. This is one thing that we need to remember as 3D printing technology, and technology in general, progresses. No matter how easy using a tool becomes, no matter how much we extend our mind into it by using it, the tool is still, in the end, just a tool and is not a reflection of our own ability.





As an artist you are able to make stuff you were not able to make before but it also means that as just a common everyday person you can start to make art of your own and also to make tools that can be designed specifically for your lifestyle. With that said using a 3D printer also has the risk of turning into a device that you use only to print out useless trinkets on most of which get thrown away very often. So for me when using a 3D printer there is a very thin line between a user and a maker, a maker being someone who makes their own tools and a user is just someone who uses the printer like one would a toy before ultimately growing bored with it.

Blue Rabbit Iteration #4

The pen that I have printed out fits into my original idea of making a tool that you needed just as it did before except maybe more so because now with the tools I have here at evergreen I will be able to decorate it and have it be or have it be printed with inspirational words or illustrations on the side which will add personal value to it. Also I am working on shaping the pen so that it fits my hand and my writing style more easily. The digital modeling environment shaped my idea in the sense that the pen was originally a little larger then I had intended and it was a little bit off on the measurements but after working on it enough I have been able to perfect the measurements of the pen and also reduce its size to a reasonable volume. The technical constraints have definitely affected the mechanics of my pen because the type of plastic that they use in 3d printing is not the type of plastic that is used to make some of the pen components which leads to a brittle mechanism. What I mean by this is that the way that it is currently built there is a chance that a small part inside the pen will break and need to be replaced every couple of weeks of using the pen. However with a little tweaking I think that it is possible to fix this problem without having to print with some other plastic. The fate of the 3D printed pen I personally think is a bright one. If some of the technical problems surrounding the 3D pen can be overcome then I plan on using it for as long as possible. Assuming that I continue to have access to a 3D printer and can continue to print out new parts and updated designs I don’t see when a 3D printed pen will outlive its usefulness. Furthermore I am contemplating putting the rough designs onto thingiverse so that people will be able create their own pens that they can customize to their own style and their own preferred way of holding the writing.



Pen Clicking Mechanism
X 16.10 mm 7 mm
Y 14.86 mm 10.30 mm
Z 134.59 mm 53 mm


Volume and Printing Time

Pen Clicking Mechanism
Volume 9 grams 1 gram
Printing 1 hour and 30 minutes 45 minutes


Rotation: |

week 8 CST


Does it matter what meaning was behind (the symbol), or does it only matter how we interpret it now?

In my opinion the meaning that the symbol had is very important because of how symbols usually represent complex concepts and larger ideas. For example the star symbol that the Wiccan religion uses can get confused with the satanic star leading people to often confuse the two. Now the Wiccan religion is still practiced by small groups of people today but let’s just say for the sake of argument that the religion died out. Years from that point people would start to get the two symbols mixed up and if we believed that the past meaning of the symbols didn’t matter then they would eventually become synonymous and eventually the religions could, in theory, blend together in the public mind making what they represent meaningless. In conclusion symbols are complex things and deserved to be treated as such.

Blue Rabbit #3 Iteration Images

 The Pen in Photography

artistic pen

In this picture of the laptop the iPhone and the pen I wanted to explore the practicality of the pen as a common tool. By having the picture taken with all of this relatively new technology I wanted to emphasize the fact that the pen is a tool that will continue to be used even when you can perform the task that the pen can do with other equipment because the pen is more practical and it is far less expensive than the iPhone or the laptop. I personally found that by exploring my idea visually helped to reinforce the understanding that I had that the pen was a very common tool because as I was taking the pictures I always felt like the pen was out of place and that it should be removed from the picture altogether because it wasn’t very special and it seemed very strange for this pen to be the focus of the picture. The process I used to take the picture was that I used the laptop as a background and the iPhone as a means to prop up the pen so that it could be seen and basically spent the rest of the time rearranging the three objects and taking pictures until I was satisfied with what I had. The exploration was not particularly helpful in moving me forward towards the next iteration because I had already mapped out what the measurements for the pen were going to be.

In the next pictures you can see all the components of the finished pen that were 3D printed and also those parts that could not be 3D printed such as the reservoir and the spring.

PB160062 (2)pen prototype non printable components

the final two components to the pen the for real deal

With the pictures of the factory and the Guatemalan garbage dump I hope to convey what I am trying to fight against by making such a thing as a printable pen open to the public. I decided to choose the Guatemalan garbage dump over the floating trash island because I have more of a connection to it since I visited it through a program I was in.

Inman, Phillip. "Fear of Slowdown in US and Eurozone as China's Factories Cut Output." Fear of Slowdown in US and Eurozone as China's Factories Cut Output. The Guardian, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Inman, Phillip. “Fear of Slowdown in US and Eurozone as China’s Factories Cut Output.” Fear of Slowdown in US and Eurozone as China’s Factories Cut Output. The Guardian, 24 Mar. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Water Charity. "Filter Project for Garbage Dump Workers of Guatemala." Water Charity. Water Charity, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

Water Charity. “Filter Project for Garbage Dump Workers of Guatemala.” Water Charity. Water Charity, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.



"Hand-writing | Arthur D. Simons Center." Arthur D Simons Center. Arthur D. Simons Center, 28 July 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

“Hand-writing | Arthur D. Simons Center.” Arthur D Simons Center. Arthur D. Simons Center, 28 July 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2014.

And finally through the composite photo I hope to convey how I want my pen to be used. Although my Photoshop skills are very poor I do think I did a pretty good job of it.

CST for week seven


In the debate between body over mind vs. mind over body my personal belief is their power over one another is equal. Through meditation you can lower your stress levels and increase your health but you can also affect you mind by treating your body better so that you can develop a better outlook and therefore a better mindset. For example in the book 1984 they were able to effect Winston’s mind with his body by re-shaping his personality and creating a new path for his thinking. This is only one example where body over mind is possible.

Iteration Two of Blue Rabbit Project

Tobias Hope Young


Iteration Two of Blue rabbit Project

Re-usable Pen

The idea was originally just a response to the question of what plastic object I would like to print into a world already overflowing with plastic objects. The idea came to me quickly; I would make a reusable pen so that I wouldn’t have to throw away a pen every month or so. A product that would not fall victim to planned obsolescence. This idea did stick with me while others rolled off. One day a friend of mine pointed out to me that if I was seriously interested in reducing my carbon footprint, which was my interest going in and still is, I should try to print out something else. For example my friend pointed out that I flossed with a plastic floss pick tool and every month I threw it away. “It would be more eco-friendly if you were to design a reusable floss pick where the only part of it that you would have to replace would be the floss part of it.” he said. I thought about that for a while. In a way he was right. It might benefit the environment more if I were to design a reusable floss pick, but as I said to him later it simply felt better to work on printing a pen. The reason behind my general feeling is, of course, much more complex. The reason behind my desire to make a pen instead of a reusable floss pick is due to the relative recentness of the invention of the floss compared to the invention of the pen. Floss was invented in 1815 (Kennedy) while the pen dates back to the ancient Egyptians (Danzing). The reason why this is important is because 3D printing technology is a somewhat recent invention and we need to understand that it can have everyday applications to our daily lives. In the United States 10-40% of Americans floss (Bauroth) while just about everyone in the United States owns, or at least has access to, a pen. Some might claim that with the advent of the personal computer that the pen will become obsolete but that argument does not hold up when confronted with the sheer practicality of the pen and the fact that it will be a long while before anyone can come up with any practical technology to completely replace it. By taking this age old symbol and 3D printing it I believe that we should be able to bring this 3D printing technology and the concepts and purpose that this pen represents, fully to the mainstream consciousness.

Another reason that I decided to print a pen was in order to fight planned obsolescence. As explained by Jeremy Bulow in his article “An Economic Theory of Planned Obsolescence”, planned obsolescence is a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially useful or limited life so that it will stop being useful by no longer being fashionable, functional or it becomes obsolete after a certain amount of time (Bulow). As Lester pointed out, in the book Makers, that the iPod, amongst other products, was only made to last a year before it becomes unfashionable or stops being functional (Doctorow). This policy makes its appearance quite often in many industries from car manufacturing (Landes) to software (Planned Obsolescence) and it is a very profitable way to do business. In fact its roots can be traced back to 1932 where it was proposed in a pamphlet to be a means for boosting the United States out of the Great Depression (London). This policy is also incredibly detrimental to the environment because it encourages an increased rate of consumption (Guiltinian). This increased rate of consumption is detrimental to the environment because it naturally requires more resources to sustain itself. With global temperatures rising (Comitee on America’s Climate Choices) and the trash buildup of trash in the ocean growing to be as large as the United States (Marks) it is apparent that an alternative needs to be found.

A somewhat realistic alternative to this cycle of planned obsolescence is presented in the science fiction novel Idoru written by famed writer William Gibson. In the book they have a line of computers called Sandbenders which are basically your own customized computer that you could order for a relatively low price (Gibson). The beauty behind it was that it was made by a small group of people so that you could upgrade your laptop without having to buy a new one. In theory you would be able to take this computer apart remove an obsolete motherboard and put it back together and it would be able to work just fine. When I first read this I thought it was an incredibly naïve idea. I had come to this conclusion because in the book it is a small group that makes this computer software, computer frames, and its upgrades. The profits from this style of business being relatively small compared to that of other companies it is reasonable to assume that these people do not have access to factories for making new parts like updated motherboards. However after reading this book with the knowledge that there was such a thing as 3D printers and that average people could get their hands on them, and that in this technologically advanced future they would have found ways to 3D print computer parts, then the whole idea becomes much more plausible. However in our current time with the technology that we have now we aren’t going to be able to print motherboards anytime soon so I came to understand that we weren’t going to prevent planned obsolescence on that scale for quite some time. If we were going to have to start we were going to have to start somewhere much smaller. One object to start with would be pens. A pen has a relatively simple structure and was affected by planned obsolescence, although on a much smaller scale. The pen manufacturers naturally change the design of their ink well once in a while to keep people buying a new version of reusable pens. By 3D printing my own customized pen I would be resisting their system of planned obsolescence because I didn’t buy a new pen to begin with and when they change the design on their ink wells all I would have to do would be to alter the design of my pen and print another.

Looking back my idea of printing out a pen has come a long way from my original idea. My original question was what object was worth printing into a world already filled with useless objects? However overtime while investigating the matter further and getting feedback from other people I have expanded the question to being about what it means to make new things in a world that is filled with corporations trying to get you to constantly buy new things and what the impact of this new technology would be? What I’ve learned has helped me to understand the larger issues surrounding 3D printing and has helped me see the importance in even the simplest and smallest of things like my pen.



Bauroth, K., C.h. Charles, S.m. Mankodi, K. Simmons, Q. Zhao, and L.d. Kumar. “The Efficacy of an Essential Oil Antiseptic Mouthrinse vs. Dental Floss in Controlling Interproximal Gingivitis: A Comparative Study.” Journal of the American Dental Association 134.3 (2003): 359-65. Web.


Bulow, Jeremy. “An Economic Theory of Planned Obsolescence.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 101.4 (1986): 729-49. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.


Committee on America’s Climate Choices, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, Division on Earth and Life Studies, and National Research Council. “America’s Climate Choices.” America’s Climate Choices. Committee on America’s Climate Choices, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.


Danzing, Rachel. “Pigments and Inks Typically Used on Papyrus.” BKM TECH., 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.


Doctorow, Cory. Makers. New York: Tor, 2009. 33-34. Print.


Gibson, William. Idoru. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1996. 137-38. Print.


Guiltinan, Joseph. “Creative Destruction and Destructive Creations: Environmental Ethics and Planned Obsolescence.” Journal of Business Ethics 89.S1 (2009): 19-28. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.


Kennedy, Pagan. “Who Made That Dental Floss?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 20 Oct. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.


Landes, Luke. “Resist Planned Obsolescence or Accept the Financial Consequences.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 6 Nov. 2012. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.


London, Bernard. “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence.” Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence (1932): n. pag. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.


Marks, Kathy, and Daniel Howden. “The World’s Rubbish Dump: A Tip That Stretches from Hawaii to Japan.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, 5 Feb. 2008. Web. 03 Nov. 2014.


“Planned Obsolescence.” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 23 Mar. 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2014.


cst post for week 5

impossible cube

This week my tinkercad account was having some problems and I thought that my account had gone offline along with all of the other stuff I had designed. This really got me thinking about the connection that I had with the objects that I had designed. To me the objects were one step away from being real, so I always considered them to be real. Then to almost lose all of the work, all of the objects really was a shock to me. It really helped remind me of what was real and what was not.

week 4 observation CST

This week I learned more about the importance of things that serve some utilitarian purpose. For example Tom is making a rubber duck (plastic duck) that he can explain his problems to. This is because it is proven that if you explain your problems, even to an inanimate object, then you can understand your problem and find the answer easier. Now of course you could explain your problem to nothing at all and not have to print out anything but as Tom explained it helps to have a material object. I look forward to learning more.

Tobias’s Blue Rabbit Project (Iteration #1: the Idea)

Tobias Hope Young


Making Meaning Matter

Blue Rabbit


Did you know every year in the United States we dispose of… 1.6 billion disposable pens (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)

A “plastic soup” of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said. (The World’s Rubbish Dump: A Tip That Stretches from Hawaii to Japan)

I would have everything in the house-television, washing machine, stereo, water pump. I would be proud that I had everything that everybody else has. Then my life would go smoothly and I would be proud. I wouldn’t have any problems. (Women in the Material World)


When asked what to print my knee jerk reaction was to make some gadget like a clock or a special sort of puzzle box with a sophisticated lock or any number of sophisticated knickknacks which would be quick to get thrown onto the shelf and collect dust before, inevitably, getting thrown away. After all I have no need for a clock of any kind since I already own a watch and a cellphone just as I have no need for a puzzle box since I have nothing that needs to be locked away. My second thought was to create something with symbolic value like a cross or a good luck charm or a token that could remind me of the ideals and values that I hold dear to me now. But then it occurred to me that that the symbolic item would lose all value once it was passed onto the next person or once I moved on to a different stage in my life. After all what would happen to these objects after I have given them up to Goodwill? Some people might keep them to put on their shelves but most would get thrown away which makes you really think. The object that I am making needs to get used thoroughly before it enters the trash heap. This of course led me to think about the continent sized trash island and the wildlife that it was destroying in the middle of the ocean and I shuddered to think that I might contribute to that cycle. The thing I wanted to bring into the world would be less stuff, less junk, less plastic, which would mean that I would have to work on replacing some of the disposable things that I have in my life. This caused a problem for me as to what I could dispose of until it hit me that the one thing that I use every day is my disposable black pen.

My decision of what I would make was enforced by reading sections from the book “Women in the Material World”, because when I was reading some of the chapters I was able to really reflect on what it means to own something and how that might positively affect you. It has been generally accepted that owning more stuff is a source of pride but in today’s world of increasing global temperatures where every appliance and product we own contributes to our own carbon footprint more is not necessarily the answer. This is why I believe that we need to start moving towards a more minimalistic lifestyle.

Unlike Buaphet in Thailand I don’t consider myself particularly proud of the things I own (like my television). By that I mean that I try to embrace a more eco-friendly lifestyle by owning the least amount of stuff as possible. And the stuff that I do own is high quality. This applies to just about everything I own with the exception of one thing: the disposable pen that I replace every month. The more that I thought about it, the more I realized how irrational my choice of stationery was, and it really did violate my philosophy. This is because when you think about it, what is a disposable pen but a product that is guaranteed to break (run dry), at least once every two months. When this product does inevitably break the next step you take is to go to the store and buy another one which only perpetuates the cycle and adds more trash to the trash heap. The strangest part by far is that no one really questions it, that we just accept it as normal.

My goal is to create a pen with a refillable ink cartridge so that when the pen runs dry it will mean simply replacing the cartridge. This is preferable to buying a pen with a refillable ink cartridge at the office depot because the pen that I will make will be more tailored to my needs and will have a more personal feel to it since I designed it. It will also have added personal value because, as I know from experience, the things that we personally make have added personal value to us in contrast to the things that we buy from the store. With my 3D printed refillable pen I can start working towards staying true to my own philosophy and keeping in mind that the United States throws away one point six billion disposable pens per year I can slowly start adding less stuff to the worlds junk pile.


Fact Flash 6: Resource Conservation And Recovery Act (Rcra). FACT FLASH (n.d.): n. pag. FACT FLASH. EPA. Web.

Marks, Kathy, and Daniel Howden. “The World’s Rubbish Dump: A Tip That Stretches from Hawaii to Japan.” The Independent [London] 5 Feb. 2008: n. pag. Print.

D’Aluisio, Faith, and Peter Menzel. “Thailand.” Women in the Material World. San Francisco: Sierra Club, 1996. N. pag. Print.

Week 3 observations CST

This week I learned more about the importance of the 3D printer concerning how it will make new connections between mind and reality. For example in class I saw that one guy was able to draw an image on his computer and move the image so that it would be on the object that he was printing. Another guy was taking an idea that he had in his head and was making it on tinkercad. But most importantly I learned more about the correlation between trade and 3D printing. The connection being that in a world where 3D printer’s abilities have expanded and everyone has one trade will decrease and with it the connection between nations. I have yet to fully realize what that could mean.

observations of the first day

Having just transferred from another class I was not present for the first day of class. I have obtained a copy of someone’s notes for the first day but they are pretty loose since it was a hands on activity. I will be sure to try to find out more during the retreat.