[Lab] Ahmed's Clock - Discussion

Jason Cobill jason.cobill at gmail.com
Wed Sep 16 08:59:55 EDT 2015

   A cautionary tale about a young maker who's clock was misconstrued as a
bomb. (There's an #IStandWithAhmed hashtag floating around if you want to
read the reaction)


   Should we talk about this as a maker community? This actually touches on
a concern I often have about doing technology projects (especially
unauthorised ones) in public: that someone's going to misconstrue a project
for something it's not, which keeps happening (do a search for Boston
Mooninite to see an example of an entire city shutting down over some
harmless LED displays).
   I suspect the day is coming that someone's wearable project gets
misconstrued for a bomb - already kids are getting shot by police in the US
for having cell phones in their hands and carrying crock-pots to picnics.
   This kind of knee-jerk prosecution is definitely having a chilling
effect on the maker movement, particularly in non-white communities.

   Is the solution to "camouflage" your inventions?
   Do we have a responsibility to educate the general public about "how to
read" an electronics project?

   Eventually something like this is going to happen in Ottawa - security
is getting tighter after the Parliament Hill incident, and we have a
thriving maker community - someone's going to raise flags for having a
home-made watch (or a hacked backpack, or a drone, or a blinky hat) in a
public place. Is anyone preparing statements for this when media comes
calling for responses? Should we think about a Maker Legal Defense Fund?

   -Jason Cobill
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