[Lab] Ahmed's Clock - Discussion

Andrew Szeto andrew.szeto at outlook.com
Wed Sep 16 09:51:36 EDT 2015

Whoa! That's deep stuff Jason. I feel like "camoflouging" maker gadgets and products is probably not the right way to go about it. In Ahmed's case, it sounds like a bit of paranoia and as his father stated, potentially some profiling as well. It's a bit of a shame that the "engineering teacher" sort of blew it off too (no pun intended). As opposed to hiding anything, I think the best remedy is to keep promoting all the awesomeness and innovations. Things like the Maker faire, Darcy's videos and website, Elon Musk's projects, help educate folks and puts the movement in the forefront of folks' eyes. More of that, better promotion and a strong, fostered community with events like high school outreach programs will really help foster a love and passion for these types of projects as opposed to the fear of the unknown. I'm always super stoked and inspired seeing the thought process and emails coming through, but more people championing the movement and "dumbing" it down a bit and making it more accessible would hopefully help with the future and how these projects are perceived. Just my two cents! 


Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2015 08:59:55 -0400
From: jason.cobill at gmail.com
To: lab at artengine.ca
Subject: [Lab] Ahmed's Clock - Discussion

   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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