What Sorts of Epic Should We Enable?

5th August 2022

Two mugs on a table.  One shows the DoES Liverpool logo, and the other has a three-step plan for success: 1. Do epic _____; 2. Tell people about it; 3. Go to step 1.  It cycles through a list of epic step 1s: startups; CNC; meetups; design; research; art...

DoES Liverpool wants to help people do epic work, whatever that work might be.

It’s a noble aim; but how do we go about enabling and supporting that?

It’s something I was thinking about when reading Bottling Lightning, an essay from Ben Reinhardt thinking about how research institutions should be structured.

DoES Liverpool isn’t a research institute, at least it’s not just a research institute. However, it is somewhere where we collectively play midwife to the future world we want to inhabit.

At different times, and for different people it can ba an art school; a startup incubator; a workshop; a salon; a research lab…

As Reinhardt says:

Context plays a large role, not just in what people think is important, but for the sorts of ideas people have in the first place. Context is a frustratingly nebulous term that I won’t even attempt to circumscribe. When thinking about research ideas, there are two key aspects of context that are worth focusing on: the culture someone swims in and the resources that they believe to be at their disposal.

Culture and resources. Two key elements that make DoES Liverpool unique.

What sort of doing do we want to enable? What is nobody else helping, but that they should? What would that help look like?

What tools should we make available? David Lang talks about supply shocks, where ready access to new tools or supplies unlocks new uses and discoveries because they get into the hands of communities who wouldn’t normally have access. We’ve done a great job of that, first with laser-cutting, and now with an increasing set of other technologies. What should we add to that list? Who else might we take these “supply shocks” to?

One way that DoES Liverpool is radically different from most institutions is that it doesn’t have any funding, and barely has any staff. The only people who can make any of this happen are the community. Naturally, the community should also get to choose what happens.

Lots of these choices happen from the day-to-day doing of work on projects, and the informal (and occasionally more formal) collaborations that come out of being in the community and the space.

Every now and then it’s good to take a step back and look at the space and the community as a whole. At DoES Liverpool we call that future-gazing.

You can read the notes from the last session on the Wiki; it’s a convivial group brainstorming and exploration session.

A printed floorplan of DoES Liverpool surrounded by three concentric circles. On top of the printout assorted building blocks and post-it notes are arranged, explaining different elements of possible futures

We’re gathering again for our next session on Wednesday, 10th August 2022, from 6:30pm, in the DoES Liverpool events space. There will be pies. If you’re part of the community, you should come along. (And there’s probably room for the odd interloper too, if you’re nearby and interested…)

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