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Freelance consultant, learning facilitator, and writer, founder of extreme-inventing.com, ooleee.net (with artist Gary King), knowledgecafe0151. Teach technology entrepreneurship at School of Engineering at University of Liverpool, UK. I have a longstanding and avid interest in Technology as a unique human phenomenon. I'm actively engaged in research on how enterprising individuals shape material culture through inventing and innovating, with palaeoanthropologists at the Dept. of Archaeology, Egyptology and Classics, also at University of Liverpool.

Practical Solutions. An Archive.

If you are looking for an archive of very very practical solutions, there’s no need to go to your nearest public library to look up a patents database, or the internet. In fact, you are probably sitting on a solution right now. If inventing things is about problem solving, which I say it is, then ‘things’ represent solutions. Look around you. what do you see? I see solutions, proven and very practical solutions. An object may itself not be a solution. More often than not, it will be part of a solution. A hammer is not a solution, but when it is picked up and used, it becomes part of a technical system, which is the solution to using relatively weak, soft, and fragile hands to do the ‘hammering’ (although of course that would be ‘handing’) . If you are surrounded by things that represent solutions, then the whole of our material culture (what’s left of culture when all the people are removed, as in an ancient ruin), represents an archive of solutions. As we engage with a culural space what we must be experiencing is one solution after another. I first came across this idea in the work of a German social scientist Werner Rammert. He was philosophizing about the nature of technology in a journal called Techne, which is dedicated to the Philosophy of Technology. Of course the whole idea of extreme inventing emerged from my interpretation of the writing of Andrew Feenberg, another philosopher of technology.   If what you experience makes you happy, or excited, or even calmed, then the solutions must be OK. On the other hand, if your experience is not satisfactory, if it makes you sad, irritated, even angry, then the solutions you engage with must not be good enough for you. Here’s an interesting picture from a past event recorded here. This is what you can read there. A new city is experienced, inevitably, as seen through the self and compared with the cities that have shaped that self. This connection between the self and the city is what makes us identify with a particular physical space of a particular city. But the sensory experience of the city can be determined by many different factors: we can choose a form of navigation (walking, running, driving, flying, crawling), and a speed (slow, medium, fast), and we can choose a sensory focus (smell the city, observe it, listen to its sounds, to strangers’ conversations). We can also determine how we navigate through the city-we may explore it randomly given its physical constraints, follow shortest paths to reach places, look for markers or monuments, or simply follow sensory intuition (how many times have you followed smells in a city?). My point here, is that each of the experiences talked about here, represent opportunities to invent and to innovate. Need is not the mother of invention, emotion is.


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