Ever since I got my Lumiphone Kit, I have been really interested in the work of Technology Will Save Us, a small group of guys who set up communal workshops usually in empty shop spaces, aimed at members of the public who want to learn more about electronics and making things themselves.
The above video is an interview with Daniel Hirshmann, one of the Cofounders of the company, where he talks about the reasons for setting up the project as well as how well its doing.
He starts by talking about how he wanted to start a company that did not only make a profit, but also gave back to society with more than just more products that will later end up in a landfill. Their goal was to create some kits that encourage people to learn more about technology, learn to be more creative technology and learn to produce it, not only consume it.
He says with the increased complexity of technology, along with the recession, there is a growing public interest in becoming more hands-on and learning new skills that save money and help people become more self dependent.
So now they set up workshops that help teach people how to put the kits together, as well as creating a fun, inclusive, communal atmosphere. Whats interesting is how he talks about the huge cross-section of people that come to the workshops; he mentions that not once have there been no women in a workshop session, yet there has been sessions with no men.
He talks about how their work can influence larger corporate companies by showing them that there are ways of producing while also giving back to the community and engaging with your customers. TWSU are selling a product that a customer buys, but also gets taught new skills and knowledge that they can take away to help improve their lives.
He then touches on open source communities online and the vast resources available to anyone who wants to take on something like electronic prototyping, but makes a good point by saying that many people struggle to pick that up when it is a list of steps or lessons online, but find it easier when it is booked out as a fixed time and place where the learning takes place. That is where the workshops come in.