26 December 2007

Fabidoo - custom toys via 3D Printing

I've blogged about several companies in this space before - Fabjectory, JuJups, and FigurePrints among others - but in some ways Fabidoo seems the most likely to succeed. First of all, they've got their pricing in a range - $15-$50 - that supports an impulse buy. Second, their toys seem to be designed for the cell-phone hanger, back-pack hanger space that's quite popular.

Right now, their site is available only in German, so I had to struggle with a Google translation, but they seem to have a pretty good marketing plan. Technically, they are cutting no new path - judging from the photo, they are using a ZCorp 450.

This is still very early days for this business model, and you can be sure most will fail or at least fade away, but as the tools for 3D printing get more robust and less expensive it will continue to develop.

25 December 2007

20 December 2007

17 December 2007

Social Networking for Grownups: Part 1, MySpace

This one is really the easiest to dispense with, because it's really not for grownups. MySpace has a busy look to it, and its communications tools are quite simple and not very useful to me. I created a MySpace page to check it out, but I look at it rarely, and I have just 12 "friends", most of whom are musicians I like.

Music is the best thing about MySpace, and the worst. It works well as a platform for musicians and bands to promote themselves, and I have found some new music through its connections. On the other hand, I personally hate web pages that play music when you go to them, and MySpace pages are designed to work that way.

MySpace has always had a heavily commercial feel, and the user is bombarded with ads at every step (even before News Corps bought it). MySpace seems to work well for its target audience - pre-teens and teens who use it as a gossip amplifier - and for them it's clearly irresistible. For me, it's pretty useless as a social networking tool, but handy for tracking music.

16 December 2007


Back two lives ago, when I was living in New Jersey and teaching at Glassboro State College, I met a young man named Kyle Cassidy. I can recall first noticing him in the Academic Computing Office - he had long blonde hair streaked with purple dye. I soon discovered that he was not only one of the more exotic looking people in sleepy Glassboro, he was also one of the most interesting and charismatic. I can't remember exactly what his real major was - English, maybe - but he hung around playing with computers, learning and teaching in equal measure. He was the first person to show me what a MUD - Multi-User Dungeon - was like, and the first I knew to meet people from around the world via the (pre-WWW) internet.

I managed to talk him into taking my "Computers and Society" class, shared a number of bean-and-cheese burritos with him at the local Taco Bell, and took a couple of short road trips with him. He created a memorable online article about a trip we made to Gettysburg. The online format for the article, while it looks commonplace now, was quite innovative in 1998 and seemed rather amazing to me. I was always impressed by Kyle's writing, photography, and videography, which always had a spark to it that was beyond the ordinary. I also had the privilege of attending his wedding, an amazing happening at a hippie house in the South Jersey woods. At least, I think it was a wedding although I've never been certain - it was definitely a work of performance art.

By the time I left Glassboro New Jersey in 2000, Glassboro State College had become Rowan University, and I had somehow abandoned my role as a professor of computer science to become a college administrator. I'm not sure which was more unlikely but obviously the latter made a bigger impact on me. Kyle had already moved on to work as a systems administrator at the University of Pennsylvania, ultimately serving in a dual role as sysadmin and house photographer for the Annenberg School at Penn. Every now and then I would exchange an email with him or take a look at his web site.

And now, seven years later, he has published a book of photography that's received wide attention both as a work of art and a work of popular anthropology. Armed America: Portraits of Gun Owners in Their Homes, has received rave reviews in publications from The Washington Post to Guns and Ammo. It's great to see such a talent receive the attention he deserves. I'm so happy about this and can't wait for my copy to arrive from Amazon.

14 December 2007

3D Printing Google Group

A new Google Group, 3D Printing Methods and Applications, has just been established - subscribe here.

New Business Models for 3D Printing

Two recent arrivals -

FigurePrints has a license agreement with Blizzard to print your World of Warcraft avatar using a ZCorp printer.

Jujups will help you create a one-of-a-kind picture frame, also printed using ZCorp.

It's still early days but it's exciting to see the development of new business models based on custom manufacturing/3D printing. Some of them are still checker playing dogs, but fun to watch nonetheless.

12 December 2007

Social Networking for Grownups

I've been using MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook with various levels of enthusiasm and usefulness for the last year or so, and it's been interesting to see the shifting levels of usage among these tools. I'm going to reflect on how these social networking sites work for those of us who want to use them primarily as a way to maintain and build professional networks, not just personal networks.

Of course, the first observation is that social networks tend to blur the lines between the professional and the personal. Just how blurry this gets seems to vary somewhat depending upon the tool. That's one of the dimensions I'm going to consider.

09 December 2007

Community Documentation Experiment

There are many photos, videos, and other materials related to Art Center College of Design scattered all over the net. Because our full name is long, and the frequent abbreviations - Art Center, ACCD - are ambiguous, it's not always easy to find what's out there. As an experiment, I've created a new blog - the Art Center Community Documentation Project - to collect links to Art Center materials, and I'm trying to promote 'artcenteredu' as a tag. We'll see if it takes off - or not.

03 December 2007

James Gurney visits Art Center

We had the privilege of James Gurney, author/illustrator of the Dinotopia books, visiting Art Center last week. His excellent blog has a nice article about his visit.