Amsterdam Talk

January 16, 2009matt.rattoevents0

Last night I gave a presentation on the intersection between commons-based peer production and material fabrication for a New Year celebration held jointly by Premsela and Virtueel Platform.These are both organizations in Amsterdam that support transdisciplinary work in the areas of design and fashion (Premsela) and e-culture (virtueel platform.) I was honored to be asked to present and very much enjoyed the conversations afterwards.

I used zuiprezi to create the presentation. It’s a new flash-based online tool that uses a zooming interface and allows a much less structured organization than typical slide-based presentation software (like pages or powerpoint.) You can access the presentation here. Use the space bar to zoom out, page up and page down to move through the path, and click on any object to zoom in.

Critical Making class offered Winter, 2009

As the title suggests, I’ll be teaching a course on critical making in the Winter semester at the University of Toronto.

Here’s a copy of the draft syllabus:


Flwr Pwr: Tending the Walled Garden

December 4, 2008matt.rattoevents1

I returned last week from a wonderful conference in Amsterdam, put on by the good people at Virtueel Platform. We did a critical making workshop there called ‘FLWR PWR’ which involved using arduino and blinkM based ‘flowers’ to explore different aspects of social networks. More information on the conference is available at and specific info on the session is at There are also a number of pictures of the event and wikis that were populated during it here:–thoughts–issues-during-the-conference.

I’ll post more technical information about the flwrs as soon as I can.

Soft Launch

October 15, 2008matt.rattoevents1

While I’ve been busy settling in to my new position as an assistant professor, I have found time to search out some furniture (left-over desks from the main U of T library and old cabinets and lockers from Faculty of Information Storage,) and to order some initial tools and equipment. My thanks to Glen Menzies, Ab Gehani, and Kathy Shyjack for their help in this.

Since the room was at least partially functional, last Friday (Oct.10) I invited a few colleagues in Toronto to a ‘soft’ launch of the lab. Kathleen Scheaffer, our new Lab Coordinator, helped me brainstorm and do some last minute set up, and ( I believe) a good time was had by all. My thanks to everyone who participated and discussed “critical making” as a pedagogical and methodological strategy. There is still a lot left to figure out (both pragmatically and conceptually) but with the help of such colleagues, I’m sure the lab will be a success! We’ll have a more ‘official’ launch in December but this event served as a great jump-start.

Here’s a link to some video and images from the event.

Taking Things Apart/Making Things Together

April 15, 2008matt.rattoevents0

Another criticalmaking event, this time in London. Sponsored by the Royal College of Arts and Imperial College’s “systems of learning” series, it will be held on April 22 from 18:00-20:00. See the poster below for info on signing up and getting to the event. More info: takingthingsapart.pdf


Killer Arduino Robots

March 14, 2008matt.rattoevents0

On Wednesday, I taught a shortcourse in the HUMlab on using arduinos and making killer robots about of little cell phone vibrators and toothbrushes. You can read more about the event and see some video on the HUMlab blog.

I also wanted to put up some of the links I used in the class. First and foremost are the two tutorials that I find really valuable when teaching this stuff. This is namely Tod E. Kurt’s Spooky Arduino and Lady Ada’s Arduino Lessons. Great explanations on all sorts of issues and very useful material if you want to learn arduino on your own.It’s also important to check in at Massimo Banzi’s every now and again, both to track what the experts are up to and to see what upcoming events are happening. There’s also a link there for buying arduino in the UK and in Europe.And for those of you interested in robots, you could do worse that the Instructables website – do a search on robots and robotics to see lots of creative approaches.

I really enjoyed the event and hope all the participants did too.


March 1, 2008matt.rattoevents0

Welcome to the start of the Critical Making lab, a studio space to be located in the iSchool at the University of Toronto.

Although the  lab will not officially launch until August, 2008, there are a number of past and upcoming “critical making” events that pre-date this. For more on these, check out the Events page. For more on critical making as a mode of technical engagement that blends conceptual thinking and material making, please check out the Theory page. And to find out what kinds of facilities and equipment will be available, please see the Space page.

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