Thursday, April 24, 2008

Dorkbot

This Sunday at 1 p.m., And/Or Gallery will be hosting the first meeting of Dorkbot DFW. Dorkbot is a grassroots organization that encourages creativity with electronics and provides a forum where musicians, artists, engineers, computer scientists, and dorks from all walks of life can present their work. There are currently a couple dozen Dorkbots in cities around the world, and Paul Slocum talked with me about the beginnings of the Dallas chapter.

How are you planning to incorporate the Dorkbot model for Dallas?

Well, I’m basing it on the Dorkbot meeting that I went to before in Denmark. I’m partly taking what I know is available in Dallas, like people I know doing this kind of stuff, and just using what’s available and using speakers that are around doing what they do. I’m probably going to speak at the first one, because we don’t have a lot of speakers yet (laughs) - it’s just getting off the ground and it’s a loosely organized group. I’m going to talk about some of my software related to music, like a project I did that approximates the pitches of the number pi and some new software I wrote for Treewave. We’re also having Lars Larsen talk about some of his synthesizer modifications. He takes old synthesizers and opens them up and modifies them. So we’re going to have that kind of stuff.

I think later on we’re going to get David Hanson to talk- he’s a robotics expert working on his PhD at UT Dallas. Ean Schuessler is going talk about some of the stuff he has done for Disturbathon, like the invite he sent last year, where you would get an email that would take you to this webpage, and then you get a phone call, and when you answer the phone the webpage changes. So he’ll talk about stuff like that. It’s real techie, but kind of art. It’s tech art, you know? I think the Dallas one may end up being a little more software oriented, because that’s what I’m involved in.

Yeah, I was going to ask you if you had any plans to emphasize more of the art and music side or the tech side.

Well, I think it will be pretty evenly balanced. The original tagline for Dorkbot is “people doing strange things with electricity,” so a lot of times it has to do with robotics. Doug Repetto , who started [the original Dorkbot] in New York years ago, runs an annual event where people build art robots called Artbot. Some of his stuff is more robotics based, and I think some of them are geared towards electrical engineering. We’re definitely going to have some of that. Really I’m not sure how it will go- it kind of depends on what people show up with, what their working on. I don’t know all of everything going on in Dallas.

Ideally, how often would you like to have meetings, and what are some of the things you’d like to see in the future?

Currently what we’ve talked about is bi-monthly. I think it’s a good way to start  since I don’t know how many speakers we’ll be able to get. I know there are people interested , and I’ve definitely felt the need for this for a long time. I wanted to start one awhile ago, but I needed a few other people to step up and get involved.

I’ve read about a couple things like Artbot where different cities will organize events outside of the meetings. Do you have any ideas or plans for something like that?

I haven’t really thought about that, it may come to something like that. I’ve been to two different ones. One was more of an event, more of a fair like you're talking about. And the one in Denmark was more formal. Personally I prefer the more formal meetings.

Do you encourage anyone to come to the meetings, or are they geared towards people who would be presenting and are heavily involved with electronics?

No, I don’t think you have to be involved. You don’t have to be doing something to go to the meetings. The format will probably be: we have a set amount of time for each speaker, and we’re thinking the meeting will be an hour long. That’s what we’re planning for this Sunday. We’ll probably plan whatever speakers we have and divvy up enough time for 10 or 15 minutes of open mic time, where people can present things quickly, on the fly. That’s what they did in Denmark, and it worked out pretty well.

What is the best way to reach you and get involved with the Dallas Dorkbot?

We have a website, and there is a Google discussion group on the site. People can join the group or email me directly.

If you would like to see what Dorkbot members in other cities have been up to, you can also check out the main site.

17 Comments:

Anonymous woaaaaaaaah SAVAGEEEEE said...

I am excited about this event. It should be very educational.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous tim duncan said...

with a name like that, i can only expect this to be terrible.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous tim duncan said...

with a name like that, i can only expect this to be terrible.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous paul said...

The site appears to be down for some reason, looking into it. Info is also here:
http://www.qotile.net/blog/wp/?p=553

11:12 AM  
Anonymous paul said...

Also, a direct link to our Google group for discussion about Dorkbot DFW:
http://groups.google.com/group/dorkbotdfw

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it was a torpedo, paul. don't tell ringo.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous dikembe mutumbo said...

look man, I was the one who was commenting using the stars of the 2008 NBA playoffs, and now you're using asshole tim duncan as you're persona its making me anonymously look bad, partly because you're a stupid asshole, and mostly because tim duncan is a stupid asshoe. I would never use a pseudonym like tim duncan! Cease and desist!

1:21 PM  
Anonymous tim duncan said...

okay mutumb. - 'using stars of the 2008 NBA Playoffs' - Mutumb is hardly a 'star', maybe he was around 95 or so.
the mavs should hire bob knight if they cant get it done this year in the playoffs.

1:28 PM  
Anonymous roy tarpley said...

let's do some coke!!!

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Hakeem Olajuwon said...

I concur, Dikembe.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous mario elli said...

dude, I'm not trying to talk ball with you, I'm saying your biting my shit by posting with the name of a basketball player. thats my shit, you can't do that, its stupid when you do it. i'm giving you a mutumbo finger wave. i don't even give a shit about the mavericks. so cut that shit out and use a name like "ishotjr" - that suits your creativity level.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Dan Marjele said...

Thunder Dan doesn't like it, either.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because using basketball players' names is soooo creative to begin with...and doesn't come off as stupid when you do it, "Mario Elli".

Dorkbot sounds interesting, if out of place in this town. I'll have to check this out.

3:43 PM  
Anonymous kenny smith said...

dude you didn't type a name "mr. 3:43 pm". all up in my face talkin kool aid and you don't even know the flavor

4:01 PM  
Anonymous dirk said...

yea, using basketball players names - thats so original/creative.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous turd ferguson said...

now that's more like it.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep

10:43 AM  

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