Speakers: Kellbot stitches together Hacking & Crafting

“Hackers and crafters do the same thing with different materials. There’s a lot of awesome cross-breeding going on and it’s rad, but I think each community finds the other a little mysterious. Also, crafters are mostly girls. Hackers are mostly boys. Match made in heaven?”

From hacking on a knitting machine one minute to hacking code the next, NYCResistor’s Kellbot is hard at work bringing the worlds of Hacking and Crafting back together. She will be covering this convergence and helping encourage its growth in “Crafting and Hacking: Separated at Birth”, her talk at the 25C3.

Craft has been a part of Kellbot’s throughout her life. She got serious in high school, cutting classes to spend more time in the art studio. At RISD, she explored textile structures and was struck by the similarities between programming looms and programming computers. Her talk will touch on the Jacquard Loom, the first device programmable by punch-card.

“Watching those machines go, it’s easy to see the relation to computing. Each harness is either up or down, and you have to move them in sequence to get the pattern you want.”

As Kellbot sees it, there are many similar intersections between hacking and crafting communities. She sees many interesting parallels in the ways the communities share information, build on each other’s work and create economic value. She’ll be talking about the emergence of “open crafting”, a movement very similar to open source software.

“It’s about encouraging people to share ideas and build upon them. It’s transformed the cottage industry crafts as well. Crafters use the internet not only to sell their wares, but to participate in communities centered around crafting and building their businesses.”

Her technical and creative skills have served her well professionally, most recently as an admin and interface developer at Etsy. (She is also an Etsy seller, where she’s sold classic geek crafts like the WTF belt buckle and freshly lazzed Cityscape rings.)

“I think it’s easier to appreciate craft if you look at some of the objects you use every day, and consider that even in recent history that stuff would have been handmade by someone … socks, forks, light bulbs … all of it,” she says. “Once you realize that everything can be handmade, it gets more interesting.”

The 25C3 will be Kellbot’s first congress, proof of its growing international influence (and power to rearrange family gatherings.)

“I was like ‘haha, right, me go to Germany.’ But then I thought about it more and it seemed more awesome and maybe even a realistic idea. Since I’m flying out on the 25th, I asked my parents if we could reschedule Christmas … and they said OK.”