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Steampunk Con Mixes In More Maker Fun

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the rebuttal-of-disposable-culture dept.

Idle 50

California has once again been blessed with another steampunk convention, this time to be held in Emeryville, CA on March 12-14 as the "Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition." This year's event promises to mix in much more of the DIY/maker flavor for a greater hands-on feel. Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months with the continued growth of maker communities, and the many delightful varieties of music and literature. The con will feature, among other things, a 2 day track of 2-hour how-to, hands-on, and interactive workshops gear towards makers, DIY-ers, mad scientists, and evil geniuses. Of course, if you are an evil genius you probably don't need a workshop except as a gathering for potential test subjects.

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50 comments

steaming mass of punks (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31149462)

sinkers or floaters?

uh huh (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149472)

Maybe Steampunk will some day be related to the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement (such as it is). I think I'll wait on making such connections until there's evidence of such connections.

Re:uh huh (0)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150080)

Steampunk has a huge DIY element to it... people who buy spiffy mechanical do-dads or modified Nerf guns might be respected for their fashion sense, but the people who actually make that stuff are held in MUCH higher regard.

Full disclosure: I think steampunk is hugely overdone and overrated, that it's 90% nerd fashion and 10% shitty sci-fi, that it's just another shallow meme that everyone will forget about in another year and that it is, clearly, the cancer that is killing the con-scene. I also spend a lot of time around it, and have even acquired/made some of my own pieces in order to open up performance venues.

As to the actual "story": So what? This isn't even US-centric, it's California centric; I'm involved with 3 steampunk conventions just in February-May, all within the Northeast. Rightly, none of them made /.. This one sounds like basically the same thing, just on the west coast. Whoopty fucking doo.

Re:uh huh (1)

cxbrx (737647) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170506)

Most of the steampunk hardware is DIY. It is not like one can go down to Home Depot and buy a steam engine. Vintage steam hardware requires rehabilitation, including fabrication of impossible to obtain parts. I participated in making a Snail Art Car [snailartcar.com] , which we wrote up for the DYI website Instructables. Another car, the Wrecker [formandreform.com] , is an electric carriage with hand-built wheels. Yah, he did not mine the lead for batteries and the differential came out of some old car, but the vast majority of this car is DIY.

Self-Reflexive (2, Funny)

Baby Duck (176251) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149582)

The Ultimate Maker Convention is where all con-goers construct together the convention grounds themselves.

Re:Self-Reflexive (4, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149686)

If you want to make a steampunk-con from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Re:Self-Reflexive (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150462)

my company is hiring. perl + oo programming in sunnyvale, ca. ask me for details.

Uhhh hi... I program in BASIC, and Turbo Pascal 7. Can I have a job?

check -done (3, Informative)

formfeed (703859) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149788)

That would be called Burning Man.

Re:check -done (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155730)

If Burning Man were anything like most Steampunk material I've seen/read, they would build two of those giant effigies and play the world's largest game of Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots... on fire.

Re:Self-Reflexive (1)

nobodyknowsimageek (218815) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150862)

The Ultimate Maker Convention is where all con-goers construct together the convention grounds themselves.

It's called "Burning Man".

Re:Self-Reflexive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31152466)

I think they already have that. It's called Burning Man.

MAKE sucks (1, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149588)

I got MAKE when it first came out, and after the 2nd or 3rd issue, when someone basically shined off the workings of a PID controller as "I don't know how it works but who cares, the $5 chip just works", I threw it into the trash. Science and technology are not 'pop' subjects, despite however many Mythbuster episodes you've seen.

Re:MAKE sucks (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150152)

And dangit, you want it to *stay* that way so you can feel elitist and justified in telling those kids to get off of your lawn!

Re:MAKE sucks (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150358)

Personally I'd just like people to realize that dropping mentos in coke bottles isn't "doing science". Mythbusters is good as an introduction, as something to draw people's attention to what you can do if you understand the more fundemental nature of things, but Mythbusters in and of itself is not really educational in a meaningful way, and the same would apply for Make. I think that Gothmolly's overall sentiment is the same as a programmer watching hackers [imdb.com] . In a way, making science "pop-culture" demeans it. OTOH, the ends justifies the means -- if it gets more kids (and, dare I suggest, adults) interested in science, then it's worth it in the long run.

Re:MAKE sucks (2, Insightful)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150768)

And dangit, you want it to *stay* that way so you can feel elitist and justified in telling those kids to get off of your lawn!

I don't know - I was just disappointed that a magazine that seemed like such a promising work of applied technology turned out to have such a large incidence of fluff... It's kind of motivated me to check out "Nuts n' Volts" again, though, see if it can do better.

Re:MAKE sucks (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150436)

Science and technology are not 'pop' subjects, despite however many Mythbuster episodes you've seen.

Why not? Given the constant bemoaning of state of science and technology education and the lack of interest in it, I would have thought fun projects and that fact that the Ardrino was featured in a mainstream magazine [theatlantic.com] , that would be good news. But I guess not. We should maintain the status quo.

But yeah, go back to your pithy dismissive one or two line comments, hipster attitude [dieselsweeties.com] . By the way, how is that working out for you? That's just super.

Ohhhh (1)

aldld (1663705) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149812)

Took me a moment to realize that "con" was supposed to mean convention. I first saw this as a warning about steampunk scams that makers think would be fun.

Best opportunity since the early 20th century... (4, Funny)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31149866)

... to die in public due to a boiler explosion. Order your tickets now !

Damn (4, Funny)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150132)

Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months...

Awww, now it's not cool anymore. The mainstream had to take cyberpunk from us, and now this too?

Hmm, I guess it's time to think of what's next. How about, a genre where the Ancient Greeks actually had advanced technology, powered by water wheels and quicklime? We could call it "marblepunk". Fame, here I come!

Re:Damn (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150480)

Most steampunk is crappy anyway. It's been so every since the steam engines started featuring LEDs. Now it's not really possible to define it, most of it looks like a low-budget sci-fi from the 80's.

Cyberpunk died of "natural causes", it wasn't because it got mainstream -- there was simply too much of it for a span of time and the market got saturated. I miss is though, especially the stuff that was written by people who knew what they were writing about. The hard-science cyberpunk, that was mostly based on things you could, in theory, pull off. Now everything is "cyber-saturated", it's simply not 'exotic' anymore.

(yes, I was born old)

Re:Damn (1)

TOGSolid (1412915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154182)

I've had that issue for a while with Steampunk. A lot of times it looks more like something out of Flash Gordon rather than something out of The Difference Engine.

Thankfully there's always a few hard steam fans to keep the Flash Gordon wannabes in check.

Re:Damn (1)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31159440)

most of it looks like a low-budget sci-fi from the 80's

I'd like to see if you can make anything better.

Most of this stuff *IS* low-budget sci-fi. Much of this stuff is designed, stitched, welded & hammered at home or a shared studio. You make do with the materials that you can fit into your time and budget. Not everyone has the time or money to build high-budget factory in their garage.

Homebuilt stuff may not look as cool as the shiny stuff you can buy at the store, but it will look better as the maker's skill improves-- that's one of the major drivers behind the DIY movement.

More power to them.

Re:Damn (2, Informative)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150530)

Ancient Greeks actually had advanced technology

But the ancient Greeks had advanced technology like steam engines [wikipedia.org] , robots [wikipedia.org] and computers [wikipedia.org] ...

I'm afraid it's really been all down hill since then.

Re:Damn (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150794)

You know what that means, don't you? The only option left is to go prehistoric, and introduce Stonepunk. Advanced technology, built from nothing but wood and chipped stone lashed together with vines or sinews, and occasionally powered by Fire!

Where's Oog the Open Source Caveman when you need him?

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151302)

Flintstones did it.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151338)

You know what that means, don't you? The only option left is to go prehistoric, and introduce Stonepunk. Advanced technology, built from nothing but wood and chipped stone lashed together with vines or sinews, and occasionally powered by Fire!

Where's Oog the Open Source Caveman when you need him?

But wouldn't that just be the Flintstones?

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151344)

...wood and chipped stone lashed together with vines or sinews

Dude, you missed the perfect geek opportunity to quote Mr. Spock (Re: The City on the Edge of Forever): "I am endeavoring, ma'am, to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

Please drop your geek card in the box by the door on your way out.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31152954)

That word does not mean what you apparently think it does. ('re' = 'about', 'concerning', 'regarding'; not 'from' or 'in').

You're welcome.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31152910)

Guess you missed this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Damn (1)

DwySteve (521303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31154408)

You know what that means, don't you? The only option left is to go prehistoric, and introduce Stonepunk. Advanced technology, built from nothing but wood and chipped stone lashed together with vines or sinews, and occasionally powered by Fire!

Where's Oog the Open Source Caveman when you need him?

Haven't you noticed that all of the Ancients advanced technology on Stargate-SG1 looks like it's made of stone? Super-advanced wormhole-creating intergalactic transportation device? Yeah, made of stone. Control panel for said device? Big stone buttons. Transport rings? Stone. Arguably, the stone and wood look has been done by sci-fi for a while.

Re:Damn (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31151938)

A spinning wheel is not an engine, no more than a pinwheel is a turbine.
A windup toy is not a robot, no more than a top is a robot.
A slide rule is not a computer, no more than a t-square is a computer.

Re:Damn (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152650)

A spinning wheel is not an engine, no more than a pinwheel is a turbine.
A windup toy is not a robot, no more than a top is a robot.
A slide rule is not a computer, no more than a t-square is a computer.

You are so totally wrong that it's painful.

Re:Damn (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31152774)

A steam engine does useful work, the Aeolipile didn't, and was never used for anything beyond "Ooos and Ahhhs".

Heron's wind-up cart, was clockwork, not a robot.

The Antikythera mechanism was a glorified lookup table. It was not general purpose, and could not "reprogramed." The Jacquard loom is the generally accepted as the earliest programmable machine.

But hey, I also bet you believe that Archimedes "Heat Ray" was a laser.

Re:Damn (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31155798)

A steam engine does useful work, the Aeolipile didn't, and was never used for anything beyond "Ooos and Ahhhs".

Here's your Citation [wikipedia.org] -

The aeolipile Hero described is considered to be the first recorded steam engine or reaction steam turbine.[4]
 
In recognition of the Aeolipile's contribution to steam engineering, the U.S. Navy chose a semblance of the Aeolipile for the Boiler Technician rating badge.
 
It is not known whether the aeolipile was put to practical use as an 'engine' in ancient times. Hero's drawing shows a stand-alone device, and was presumably intended as a temple 'wonder', like many of the other devices described in Pneumatica. [3]
 
Vitruvius, on the other hand, mentions use of the aeolipile for demonstrating the physical properties of the weather. He describes the aeolipile as
"...a scientific invention [to] discover a divine truth lurking in the laws of the heavens.[5]"

Heron's wind-up cart, was clockwork, not a robot.

Here's Your Citation [blogspot.com]

The editors at New Scientist have constructed a replica of what is believed to be the earliest known programmable robot.
 
In about 60 AD, a Greek engineer called Hero constructed a three-wheeled cart that could carry a group of automata to the front of a stage where they would perform for an audience. Power came from a falling weight that pulled on string wrapped round the cart's drive axle, and Sharkey reckons this string-based control mechanism is exactly equivalent to a modern programming language.
 
By the way, Noel Sharkey is a computer scientist at the University of Sheffield, UK, who recently discovered that one of Leonardo da Vinci's robotic creations was based on Hero's designs.

The Antikythera mechanism was a glorified lookup table. It was not general purpose, and could not "reprogramed." The Jacquard loom is the generally accepted as the earliest programmable machine.

AGAIN Your Citation [wikipedia.org] -

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient mechanical calculator (also described as the first known mechanical computer)[1][2] designed to calculate astronomical positions.

But hey, I also bet you believe that Archimedes "Heat Ray" was a laser.

Seems like you're the one with the problem here as EVERY word I used was sourced in my original post.

We owe our entire civilization to the Greeks. Without their advanced understanding of the sciences and mathematics, which stood unquestioned for nearly 2000 years, we would not even be having this conversation right now and you sir would be living in a small thatch hut instead of your parents basement.

NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

Re:Damn (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 4 years ago | (#31162236)

Your aeolipile citation is full of fail. "[It] was presumably intended as a temple 'wonder', like many of the other devices described in Pneumatica."

If it was a steam engine as commonly understood, then were what the hell did Thomas Newcomen and James Watt create? Where were the steam shovels and trains?

I don't agree with with Noel Sharkey, as it was more of a spring driven clockwork, and as wikipedia says, "A clockwork car is never considered a robot." More importantly, Hero's cart contained no agency at all, as it could not respond to the environment. Even a simple gear that would connected to a bumper that would cause it to reverse direction, would have been enough, but it didn't have one. It is no different from a wind up car.

Your Antikythera citation is also full of fail. It does not mention programability. A calculator is not a computer. It serves only one purpose, no more than an abacus or protractor is a computer. Just because the word is used, doesn't make it so. Perhaps you'd be shocked to learn, that "computer" was an occupation not all that long ago.

NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

It's not your lawn, its your two dads'.

Re:Damn (1)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31163210)

Where were the steam shovels and trains?

The Chinese invented gun powder but not the gun so does that somehow mean we take away credit from them? Nope...

My citations all say and mean exactly what my original post did. Hey I even gave references where you just spout off your opinion but I'm full of fail? Me thinks your ego needs a reboot...

Anyway as far as Hero's 'steam engine' just being a temple wonder I'd point out that steam engines have little to no value in today's world outside of being wonders of the 19th century. I guess that means we gotta stop calling them steam engines now or we will anger the great and powerful coaxial of slashdot fame.

Look here Billy, I'm really sorry but your logic is faulty and no one is interested in your personal definitions as to what makes a steam engine, robot, or computer what it is. Your posts are little more than trolls.

Greek science (1)

Pseudonymus Bosch (3479) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150844)

And what if Greek science were right [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Greek science (1)

boxwood (1742976) | more than 4 years ago | (#31153384)

You could accurately model the universe with the ptolemaic system. basically the planets wouldn't be orbiting the earth directly, but they'd each be orbiting a point in space and that point would be orbiting the earth. Well its more complicated than that, the point would be orbiting another point that would be orbiting another point, etc. etc. and the planet would be orbiting that. With enough calculus you could make an accurate solar model. Similar things would have to be done for the galaxy.

Of course it would be so complicated it would slow down astronomical research to a crawl. Luckily copernicus came along and made life so much simpler for astronomers.

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151340)

Vikings are next. You heard it here first!

Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31151386)

Steampunk has been gaining much broader appeal in recent months...

Awww, now it's not cool anymore. The mainstream had to take cyberpunk from us, and now this too?

Hmm, I guess it's time to think of what's next. How about, a genre where the Ancient Greeks actually had advanced technology, powered by water wheels and quicklime? We could call it "marblepunk". Fame, here I come!

But why stop there? Take it back to the Ancient Egyptians, throw in some high-tech gizmos that act as portals to other worlds left behind by oppressive ET's ... oh wait... nevermind.

flash (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 4 years ago | (#31150900)

It would be great if the inventive, creative minds involved in steampunk would use something less crassly-modern than flash on their websites. I got bored waiting for the flash to load on some of the websites in the summary, and promptly gave up.
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