Opening gadgets and transforming our reality

A journalist asked us the other day what our “best repairs” have been, and what makes us proudest about The Restart Project. Perhaps she expected us to tell her a story about intricate, complicated technical repairs that our volunteers managed to pull off. But this is not the case at all!

The best repairs help participants lose their fear, or help volunteers realise how to help others.

freire post

Here’s just one example. K seemed like a very calm person. She came this month to a Restart Party with a fan running very loud on her laptop, which was worrying her. We handed her a screwdriver and guided her through a disassembly and deep clean of her laptop. She became visibly nervous. We tried not to rush her and we supported her the best we could. She did most of the work herself, and reassembled the machine. She told us that this was the “most stressed” she had been in ages. Days after, she wrote back to us

I’m the worried looking one. Good news, now I’m relieved as fan seems to work fine after an initial rumble & also lost fear of mysterious technology! In all aspects, we the people can work on improving our world. It is now slowly sinking in and I hope starting a snowball effect!

Our project, at the end of the day, is more about people than gadgets.

paulo freire

Brazilian educator Paulo Freire believed in the possibilities of adult education where learners “come to see the world not as a static reality but as a reality in the process of transformation”. When we open a gadget, we gain a critical view into something we took for granted. It feels like the lifting of mystery, the loss of fear. But it goes deeper. By disassembling and repairing together, we transform our reality.

Another thing Freire stressed was the connection between learning and teaching – and we can see that our Restarters learn by working with people. Our favourite repairs are when a participant is guided and coached by Restarter volunteer, where both are equally engaged and learning from the other. Those with technical skills are teaching but they are also learning – this is another important element of this “transforming”.

A sense of ad-hoc community runs through our events, and we can feel it among our Restarters, who have gotten to know each other and have learned from each other. This is what makes us feel everything is worthwhile.

Post-script: yesterday after drafting this, we chatted to Peter Mui, founder of Fixit Clinic, in the US and we were genuinely moved to hear that his approach is very similar, as were his motivations and experiences working in communities.



6 Responses to “Opening gadgets and transforming our reality”

  1. So I have followed iFixit since I opened my iPhone 3G for the first time and FAILED to exit without irreparable damage to the parts I had purchased . I bought another “kit” and tried again. Successful I was. I just sold that very object for $50 somewhere near 5 years later.

    I now work full time at a smartphone & tablet repair shop. I left my corporate position and started this business in January of this year.

    Last night a customer came to my counter and asked what it would cost to repair a Samsung Galaxy S3. When I showed him the cost of a display assembly he declared that there was no way he’d ever be able to afford to have it done. He then asked if I’d be willing to show him how if he could find the parts for cheaper. I smiled and pulled an assembly I had glued with LOCA from multiple donor phones. I told him that it would cost him a third of the price if he’d come back in an hour and allow me to oversee his attempt. He did come back and he successfully repair his phone. When I explained that the glue job was an experiment which accounted for the different colored screen and button he exclaimed, “I will constantly be reminded of how grateful I am that you showed me how when I hit the white button surrounded by the blue screen, and I will smile with pride that I did it myself.”

    The profit was in the teaching and not the money.

    Thanks iFixit!

    I will always be grateful for you showing me how!

    Jason

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