I met the most interesting people at CMK11 this year.

Tinkerers. Makers. People who weren’t afraid to get it wrong in the process of getting it right. It was fun to be in a room full of people just messing around with stuff.

I enjoyed so many moments:

  • Being in the midst of a computers/technology conference when the power went out. We had fully charged computers, but what we did not have was the hive mind of the internet. So we had to ask each other for competencies and expertise, we looked at books, we talked. It was a great way to start our collaborative work.
  • Watching that bike charger for a cell phone emerge. In this project, I understood taking a positive (bike rider) and a negative (cell battery life) and combining them, how over-engineering can save time, and the joy of success.
  • Hearing the question, “Are NASA photos public domain?” asked of no one in particular and having two people provide the answer. (Yes, if you are a US citizen. They belong to the US Govt and hence the people.)
  • Watching the “Happy Dance of Success” move around the room.
  • The Playdoh, LEGOS, and a bubblewand bubble machine.
  • Meeting the Scratch Cat (sort of – he was made of LEGOS)
  • Breaking out of the way too sterile presentation space at the MIT Media Lab, heading down the back staircase with friends for a little look-see.
  • The soda-can one man band that grew at the table next door, complete with light show.
  • Meeting new friends: Strange Brew, The Red Line, Pizzeria Regina, fish tacos, “Can I see some ID?”
  • Why have I been ignoring Prezi? Fantastic interactive wall created next to me at my table.
  • Making a cylinder recording device: we watched as a “fun” project of building an Edison cylinder recorder got two history teachers thinking about how weird and stilted their own voices sounded – and that got them thinking about how archival recordings sound, and that got them wondering if that is what people really sounded like.

So we need to tinker in my classroom this year. Tinker with words. Tinker with books. Tinker with writing stories. What do I need to make this tinkering come to life?



5 Comments Add yours

  1. Gary Stager says:


    You are most fantastic!

    I completely forgot that we had no electricity for a couple of hours. It stopped nothing.

    One thing I observed is that there may have been so little tweeting and blogging out of #cmk11 because people were BUSY. If that is the case, what does it say about conferences where people tweet like crazy?

    The 5th Anniversary Constructing Modern Knowledge will be July 9-12, 2012.

    1. Kate Tabor says:

      I agree that we were all engaged fully in our tinkering. I only had time to blog because I wake up at some ridiculous hour of the morning and my roommate did not, so I would bug out and let her sleep and I headed for lobby wifi.

      What I think that this says about those live tweeted, keynote to keynote covered conferences is that people are looking for a valid reason to be one of 1000 people in a ballroom. “Hey, I’m here! See the cool thing I am watching/hearing?”

      I’m working on one more meta post – how will I bring this tinkering back to a seventh grade English class. I’m turning over and over what Mitch Resnick said about “the new narrative” and the Scratch community… hmm

  2. I look forward to your “meta-post.” I’m trying to find time to unpack, grade graduate student work and create more documentation from CMK 2011.

    I am also desperate to start work on the program for next year.

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