Meet the Maker Series | Tony Loiseleur, Makerologist of Words

How and why did you get involved with Makerologist? Alex Cheker and I were invited by Clarissa San Diego to join on. It didn't take much convincing as our goals and passions were much the same!

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How does your work with Makerologist impact your life? We're still in the early stages, so I think that the "big impact" Makerologist would make in my life is still just over the horizon. That said, the mere existence of Makerologist has been both reassuring and inspiring in that it disproves the notion that the Maker movement is anemic (let alone dead) in Seattle, and it came to my attention at a really critical time. After first hearing about and then witnessing the mismanagement and closure of other maker spaces in Seattle, I was beginning to think it would be impossible to be a part of this industry unless I'd moved to California. That wasn't in the cards, so I began to think and plan my exit into a new, less impactful, and far less exciting career path. Thank goodness Clarissa came along when she did, though. It was invigorating speak to her about what she was building, and it was heartening to see old maker friends, who had since scattered to the four winds, come back together under one group and with a shared vision. It's given me hope that we can still make a difference AND make a living doing this. It's like learning the Avengers exist, but they're all your friends.

Honoring those who came before us: When was a moment when someone impacted you and made a difference, or got you into what you do now? I think I owe an equal debt of gratitude to two persons in particular: Richard Albritton and Alex Cheker. When I met Richard, I was primarily a writer by trade and training, but through his patience and direction, I learned how to solder, how to use a sewing machine, how to design and use CAD files for laser cutting and 3D printing, and how to program microcontrollers, just to name a few things. Richard took me from being a hobbyist to a fledgling designer and maker. Alex Cheker came along soon after and continued to foster my technical growth, and now I'm a partner in his startup, MyOpen3D. With Alex, I'm helping to design and build version 2.0 of his stellar 3D printer and I now have a hand in developing curriculum and extending access and knowledge of open source hardware to educational institutions in the Greater Seattle Area. I've been incredibly lucky to have met them when I did as without then, I couldn't have been a part of the Maker movement.

Thinking about specific scenarios/events: When was a moment when you realized you were making an impact? (An aha moment) I recall once teaching a high school student how to use a laser cutter. He was part of a summer program that I was helping teach at that felt more or less like a perfunctory summer program meant to keep him and his peers busy (this was my least favorite part of the program). Toward the end of the program, they were set to spend several weeks on-site at the maker space I was working out of, which was exciting for me, but didn't seem to be exciting for the students. By that point in the summer, I got the impression that their patience with the program had run dry, and they were already looking forward to the coming school year. Thus, while it took some convincing, I eventually talked him into trying to make something on the laser cutter. He decided on making wood jewelry for his friends and family that reflected his Somali heritage. Under his aesthetic direction, I helped him locate designs online and showed him how to render them in a CAD program, and then showed him how to have those designs etched and cut on the laser cutter. I thought it would end there, as generally, I've seen how happy most people are when they walk into a maker space with an idea, then leave with their idea in physical form afterward. But then he said something that stuck with me since: "y'know, I could go into business making this kind of stuff. This could be my job." He smiled then, which was the first time I'd ever seen him that happy and engaged during that entire summer program.

When you look ahead, what is your vision for your work and the community(ies) you work with? I want to live in the Star Trek future, or at least, something very much like it. Specifically, and starting with what Alex and I are doing now, I want to see a future where the generation that comes after mine is not just creative, but technically literate and capable of making the things they need rather than live their lives by the whims of corporations as captive consumers. I want the hardware and software they use to be open and shared by the community in such a way that while it still benefits the least experienced users, the most advanced users help push the tech forward through tinkering and modding, all for the benefit of the community. I want future generations to not be afraid of emerging tech, but to embrace it, and have an active hand as a community in shaping it in such a way that it liberates and elevates us all. To paraphrase Gene Roddenberry, I want to live in a future where "there is no war, there is no disease, and every child knows how to read." I may not see it come to pass, but I hope to do my** part to help realize it.

When you see me at Seattle Mini Maker Faire, ask me about;

  • Writing
  • Learning how to make from a non technical perspective

Passion project: MyOpen3D

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