Smile Politely

Mark Frauenfelder Interview; Lecture at Siebel Center Tonight

Tonight, thanks to the designmatters campus-wide initiative to inspire innovation, Mark Frauenfelder, the editor-in-chief of Make Magazine (an O’Reilly Media publication) and co-editor/co-founder of Boing Boing, will be giving a talk entitled, “A Brief History of Making.” He will discuss new developments in manufacturing technology that have made significant changes in the way we get involved in making stuff. This talk is also a pre-event for the first annual UIUC Innovation Week to be hosted by the Technology Entrepreneur Center and School of Art + Design, starting on Feb. 22.

Smile Politely caught Mark online at the airport, minutes before he was scheduled to fly to Champaign-Urbana. He was gracious enough to answer just a few questions for us.

Smile Politely: Have you ever been to Champaign-Urbana before? Is there any particular place you’d like to revisit?

Mark Frauenfelder: Yes, I was here a couple of years ago with my friend (and Boing Boing co-editor) David Pescovitz for a five-day residency with the students at Unit One in Allen Hall. One place I’d like to revisit is a fantastic Thai food restaurant in Urbana, Siam Terrace, that Laura Haber took us to.

SP: What prompted your interest in the Interweb?

MF: It’s the best thing there is to help me do the things I like to do best—publish, write, learn.

SP: Has anyone stopped you on the street and told you about something they’ve remade? What was it?

MF: I was in an art gallery and this guy showed me three rings he made from yarn. It was very nicely made. It was a topological curiosity — no two rings were linked to each other, but you could not separate any of the rings from the other two. If you’ve ever had a Ballantine’s beer, you might be familiar with it. They use it for their logo.

SP: Three most important websites of our time are…

MF: Google, Amazon and Nothing to Do With Arbroath.

SP: What do you think makes people unmotivated or unproductive nowadays?

MF: A lot of people in developed nations don’t need to be productive or inventive to live well, so they are not motivated to do much. They just coast through life.

SP: What do you hope your audience will take from your presentation tomorrow night?

MF: That using your hands to make stuff is uniquely rewarding in many ways.

Frauenfelder’s lecture, “A Brief History of Making,” will be held in Room 1404 at the Siebel Center, located on 201 N Goodwin Ave. in Urbana, beginning at 5 p.m. The event is free.

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