We had an excellent day yesterday at Central Saint Martins, one of the University of the Arts London campuses, most associated with product design. We started the day with a lecture to second year students about what we have learned working with hundreds of frustrated electronics owners over the past nine months.
Our top 4 messages to future product designers… Continue reading
We had a great time fixing in the midst of a Good For Nothing event on Saturday.
It was one of the first times we were repairing in the middle of another event – the Good For Nothing network of creatives, strategists and developers was at the Forward Foundation helping three very worthy youth organisations in a 48 hour marathon of “doing, not talking”.
And we were there helping to repair sad gadgets in the middle of the doing. For us, the day was not just “make” and “do”, it was also “make do!”
What was most encouraging was the warm reception we received by the Good for Nothing community. Continue reading
Moment of triumph over the Epson in question
I am not a technical person.
It may seem strange, being one of the founders of this project, but perhaps that is always what makes me good for this. The technical stuff not only frustrates me – it also really intimidates me, just like most people.
When I first saw The Lightbulb Conspiracy, a documentary about planned obsolescence, I would have never imagined myself battling against one of the featured tricks of printer manufacturers – Epson’s dreaded internal counter/chip. It is an emblem of planned obsolescence, much like the first iPod, where Apple made it impossible to change the battery.
This Saturday, in Willesden Green, a frustrated participant to one of our Restart Parties brought her Epson Stylus D68. She said it died suddenly with no warning and two lights just blinked red and she could no longer print. She had just replaced both ink cartridges.
I did some Googling about her problem and quickly came across a number of people complaining about the dreaded “kill chip”.
We had a great turnout at Swiss Cottage Library – the foyer was an excellent space for a Restart Party, we hope to pop-up there again. Thanks to everybody for getting really involved in the repairs, for rolling up your sleeves.
Our repair roll from Brixton was hard to maintain – we had some really tough laptop repairs this time. Some of the repairs we hope to finish in two weeks at the Repair Café at the Goodlife Centre in Southwark/Waterloo.
Wow. Just wow. We left Transition Centre in Brixton after three (plus!) hours of repair last night and we had either improved or fixed everything that people brought. Everything!
This was a first for us, and just reinforced how spontaneous and inspiring community events can be. You can sense it in our photo album.
The great repair energy was thanks to our hosts, Transition Town Brixton, but also thanks to the skills and tenacity of Alan from local repair company Commtech as well as Jack and Ben who came from Brockley.
Anne, who brought a broken printer, told us she would have literally gone to the store today to buy another, had we not spent an hour with her Epson. After researching chips, ink pads, and other common problems, it turned out there was a piece of sellotape stuck on one of the rollers!
The past couple of weeks have been really busy for us: we took part, presented and/or repaired things at a lot of inspiring events, such as the monthly ICT4D London Group, the Cause Meets Tech, the launch of The Great Recovery, Good for Nothing‘s social, the Transition Belsize Green Fair, the Repair Café at Goodlife Centre and the Transition Brixton monthly skill-sharing evening.
It’s been exciting and very powerful to learn more about people’s perceptions about repair and their frustrations when the products they own break. But perhaps the most interesting insight is that so many people actually care. So many people want to take part in Restart and to learn together how to make a difference. When we started this journey, we thought that repair was out of fashion. We couldn’t have predicted that so many people are actually interested in self-repair, in learning how to become a bit more independent and taking direct action. Instead, what we see more and more is real citizens desiring to regain control of the things they own, whether by learning how to manage their laptop better, so that it doesn’t become slow and unresponsive, or by learning how to keep their printers clean and make them last longer.
On Wednesday at Belsize Community Library, we had a great turnout of people of all ages, with all kinds of mechanical and electrical problems for our third Restart Party.
Perhaps it was the library atmosphere that inspired people, but we were most impressed with the spirit of those who came – pry it open, test it, and hack it! The spirit of “real people fix things, not just geniuses” really prevailed. And made for lots of fun!
We are delighted to announce that our third Restart Party will be at Belsize Community Library (3 Antrim Road, NW3 4XN). Save the evening of Wednesday, July 11 for community repair. We’ll be there from 6-9pm, helping people fix their stuff. (Please let us know you are coming!)
There has been a great deal written about future libraries as makerspaces or hackspaces, but we feel the library can be a place for skillsharing and helping to nurture new, collaborative economies. Continue reading
We had great fun at our second event on Thursday at the inspiring KK Outlet store, beautifully curated by Technology Will Save Us. In addition to tinkering, dispensing repair advice and marveling over the Sugru dinosaur, we fixed another HP printer and switched out the fan on this 2006 Macbook – now silent and cool. (May it last another six years!)
Thanks to everybody who attended our first Restart Party repair event in north London on Saturday – you made it a real success.
We had an excellent turnout – more than 30 people came by, from many generations, and the space was buzzing the full four hours. We had 4 humble repair heroes offering their skills in computer and electronics repair – sometimes this meant we could not help everybody immediately, but people were quite happy to meet each other, have a brownie and a coffee and talk about their electronics, green and local issues.