This post is about what I’ve learned about Making through the Robotic Glockenspiel project.
Even at the beginning of the project, I was “standing on the shoulders of giants“:
- Arduino and Arduino Starter Kit to get me going
- a solenoid driver circuit from a Make magazine blog.
- several math & physics web pages went into my own instructions on cutting and tuning chimes
- videos of other people’s robotic glockenspiel projects
- Pages on the format of Midi files and playlists
- Sparkfun Arduino Shields and their customer support folks
- Arduino community notes on some quirks of Arduino shields
- Woodworking pages on using a router to do basic joinery
- I’ve even kept Lowes in business for the past few months, buying the chime and box parts
As I learned things, I’d document them for others:
- I blogged at major points in the project. I could have blogged more frequently.
- I tweeted synopses of the blog entries, to point to the blog
- I made YouTube videos from the very start, of the little soldering projects I built to relearn how to solder
- Once the software was (mostly) working, I put as much as I could think of on GitHub:
- my Glockenspiel Arduino sketch
- my Midi file reading library
- my SD-card simple persistent settings library
- The circuit diagram, in Fritzing format
- the Bill of Materials (parts list)
- the public domain MIDI files of the Christmas carols, as well as the
Aria MaestosaMuseScore source files for the carols.
Sharing shaped my thinking and the structure of the project:
- Blogging made me imagine what someone like me would like to know about robotic instruments and glockenspiel construction.
- Making YouTube videos made me think about how the project demos well or badly, and pulled me out of the technical bits into the user experience. Trying to make a video of the glockenspiel playing showed me how unacceptably loud it was.
- Tweeting made me think about how to get the word out about what I’d done so far, and what media to use to connect with like-minded people.
- Open-sourcing the project on GitHub seriously changed how I organized the software (I created the libraries and examples of how to use them), and stretched my ideas of what a Git repo was for (e.g., Bill of Materials). It made me think of reusability of the code.
Sharing sends many messages
At work, Jessica and I discussed what Sharing Making says, and came up with these ideas:
- The foreground message: “how to do what I did”. You’re giving people a recipe, that’s hopefully complete enough to be useful.
- It’s a resource list: “Here are links to the sources I used to get where I am with this project”. It lets people find more detail and the people who created those details.
- “I appreciate the work people put into the resources I used” – making a resource list gives kudos back to the authors.
- “How I got here”. It’s a journal, showing your process of creation. Not just the recipe, but a guide to how to be a chef who creates recipes. This is the big reason you want to share your project as you go rather than when it’s “finished”.
- It shows authority: “Now I know how to do this.” “I’ve got chops”
- Advertising that you’re a resource: “I’ve shared this much; ask me questions about problems you run into”
- An advertisement for collaboration: “These are areas I’m interested in” “Contact me if you want to work together in an area”
- Most importantly: if you only share the demo – what you did – you’re only saying “look at how great I am and you can’t be”; if you share how to duplicate the project, you’re saying “I’m nurturing the community”. I’ve seen how when people only post a photo or demo, the first comment on it is “So, where’s the source?”
So far, I’ve only written; I haven’t actually participated in a community
- I’ve blogged, tweeted, youtubed, and githubbed, but I haven’t heard from anyone who’s used this info, and I haven’t offered changes to anyone else’s Open Source project – yet.
- Everything I’ve said about “sharing” is just speculation at this point. I look forward to actually collaborating (in some way) with other people who are into music technology.
- I need to “advertise” the project so people can find it. Once it’s more complete, I can put it up on the Arduino Blog, Sparkfun’s site, etc. I can also do more exercises to make the libraries I’ve created more useful.
- Life is all about creating long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships. Linda says writing isn’t about one fantastic book; it’s about continually writing wonderful new books for your growing audience. In the same way, Making isn’t about one cool project; it’s about building relationships to Make stuff that’s so much more wonderful than you can make alone.