My Story

So this is the story of me becoming a maker. As I'm writing this, the “ending” of the story is still unknown to me. But can I really fail? Can I really mess up the ending? I hope not. We will see.

You can follow me and my process on this page as one very long story. In the menu, you’ll find a list of my posts for easy and quick access.

Zero to maker

January 14th, 2018
I got this book from my dear friend Carl

Have you read David Lang’s book “Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything” from 2013? I have, four months ago, and it was then when I first got to hear this expression “Zero to Maker”. I copy/pasted it right away and used it as often as I could, I still do. David Lang does also have a blog. I haven’t read it yet, maybe the book is enough. This story is my own version of that, my own blog (or story as I would like to call it) about me going from Zero to Maker.

Fab Academy is not necessarily the typical place for a Zero to Maker-journey, at least as far as I know. After reading about others who have enrolled in the course, I understand that my skill set is at a far lower level. It was very clear in the application that all participants should have a minimum knowledge of the following tools and processes: 2D and 3D modeling Digital fabrication Electronics programming Web design and development I might have over exaggerated my knowledge in the application... I didn’t lie, my plan was to learn all the basics before enrolling. But then life happened and time flew. I know some though. I know what the words mean, that’s a start I guess. I bought myself an Arduino kit to play around with electronics, I was responsible for exploring 3D printing with kids during a camp I held this past summer, web design is just a google away... It will be fine. I will be fine. I will have to work hard.

I’m very good at working hard. I’m also a fast learner and I have a curious mind. I could become better at asking for help, something I will need to do to accomplish this. And “this”, what is that really? This is for me to learn, and that I will, for sure.

Who am I?

January 14th, 2018

So who am I? It's not an easy question to answer. My name is Johanna Nordin, I’m 31 years old, I’m from Stockholm, Sweden, that’s easy. But then what? I love my family. I have great friends and the best job. I work at Hyper Island, more about that later. A few years back I discovered that I value and make decisions based on three things; have fun, be optimistic and aim high. I talk a lot, I smile a lot too. I gladly share things about myself, in all settings. I thrive when people are open and trust me, and I love trusting others and being open with them. I speak my mind and trying to keep an open mindset. I’m working on my comfortability level when it comes to posting things online for others to look at or read. I wash my jeans too often according to the washing instructions, I’m 159 centimeters tall, and right now I’m hooked up on a blog about intestinal floras, good bacteria, and research about anti-inflammatory food.

I stole a friend's dream

January 14th, 2018

When people ask me why I do this I usually say I stole a friend's dream and made it mine. It’s partially true. When me, Greg and Carl ( in May 2017, got invited by M-LAB to come to Vilnius to do a workshop on the Future of innovation in education with the Government Office, Carl told me he wanted to enroll in Fab Academy. At that time, I had never heard of Fab Lab or Fab Academy.

In Vilnius, I got to meet some nice people. I remember thinking I wanted to be more like them. I saw them as creators and explorers, doers and thinkers. I thought of them as brave and true. True to themselves. All of them had great stories. Stories of who they were, why they did what they did, their dreams, achievements and missions. I remember feeling pretty flat when it was my time to tell who I was; “I have a master in business and I work with sales...”. I thought Fab Academy would be a great way for me to become more like them. Now I know better, or things have landed a bit more in me. I don’t want to become anyone else. I want to be the best version of me. I’m on a journey exploring myself and what I’m capable of.

THANK YOU Carl, Greg, Giedrius, Ieva, Bart, Ferdi, for a first great introduction to Fab Lab and Fab Academy. My biggest THANK YOU goes to myself for being curious and wanting to learn new things. I might have stolen Carl’s dream, or copy/pasted it, he still has it, but it was me that made it happen. I make stuff happen! One could say I’m a maker already ;)

The future I want to live in

January 17th, 2018

But why do I really do this? I want to challenge myself and start this new adventure of endless possibilities. I want to try new things, learn new skills and explore more. I want to try and fail, try again, learn from my mistakes and succeed in some way.

Most importantly, I want to forward this learning to others. My future goal is to affect structures in society that hinder kids’ creativity. I want to be part of implementing methods and tools that let kids constantly be curious and learn. The skills, the learnings and the experience I will gain from Fab Academy will further prepare me for the future I want to live in, the future I want to create for others, especially kids.

First week

January 22nd, 2018

The first week of Fab Academy. One of the main deliverables of this course is to document my progress and my learnings (is learnings even a word or have I just spent too much time at Hyper Island?). The documentation is also the main source for the examination, by reading this, the examinator will tell if I deserve a The Fab Academy Diploma or not. For that reason, I will have to become somewhat more thoughtful explaining what I’ve learned and how I did it.

To make it clearer I will separate this story and the Fab Academy deliverables. Here on this page, you can follow my journey; my reflections and thoughts, my highs and lows. And here on this page, you find my weekly assignments and deliverables.

First day of school

Am I really a Zero?

January 29th, 2018

What is a Zero to Maker journey? Is it even a common saying or am I just indoctrinate by David Lang’s book? Now when I have met my classmates and local instructor I feel like a Zero. But am I really? You always start at Zero I guess, but what skills and knowledge have I got that could possibly make me a (at least) 0.2 on this non-measurable scale? I just need to add: One of my lovely classmates works with how to 3D print fungus ON THE MOON !!! I got so curious and almost starstruck when I heard this. But what I also did, what I wish that I didn’t, was that I compared myself and my skills to her and her skills. And as you may imagine, I wasn’t too proud of myself at that moment. But then you know what happened, and this is one of the reasons why I love my job; my colleague Sam the Greatest phoned me. During the phone call he reminded me of all the skills that I have, that he values and appreciate, skills that I many times forget that I have. I’m great at creating an open and friendly environment. Might sound simple, but important; to recall, I was actually the one suggesting that me and my classmates should go for a coffee during the break to get to know each other better. I'm good at that. In two minutes I was back to the proud and skillful me again.

Thanks for the reminder Sam, you are a true bubbis ;)

But going back to me being 0.2 on the Zero to Maker scale. Of course I have skills that are really valuable for this journey. I’m curious, I love solving problems, I have an optimistic mindset and I work hard. I would say that those are great skills. I might not be an engineer or computer scientist, a designer or an artist, as I find everyone else being around me right now. No, I have a master in business. But that’s never going to be the way I present myself. I don’t find it relevant. It doesn’t define me or gives anyone else a better understanding of who I really am.

I want others, like me, that don’t necessarily find them self being makers, tech-savvy or creative to explore and try. Experience-based learning, the solid rock that Hyper Islands is grounded on, is also very deeply rooted in me. That’s the type of learning I want to teach our kids and that’s how I want to live my life; exploring and learning on the way. So even if you are minus 10 on the non-measurable Maker scale, go and have a try. What’s the worse thing that could happen - that you end up writing about it in a blog that probably no one will read? ;)

And by the way, this is way outside my comfortable zone, not the maker part, but this, writing something online that someone possibly could read, that's scary!

Want to be cool

February 14th, 2018

It’s been a while since I last posted a piece of my story. It’s been hectic, not just Fab Academy, but also coping with living in a new city, and then my job at Hyper Island. I’m on a 50 percent contract until the end of the course, but I must be working more than that, feels like an by my computer 24/7. I have downloaded an app to track my time. I decided to only track Fab Academy time and Hyper Island time. Looks like my average time in front of the computer is 11-12 hours a day. Then squeezing in some workouts and some dinners with friends - it's been tough. The most important part though, I’m having fun, and I’m learning so many new things.

This week has been amazing, focusing on laser and vinyl cutting. See my weekly assignment. Fab Academy weeks are Wednesday to Wednesday, ending with a global review of that week’s assignment and then a global lecture on the new topic. Thursdays are normally local session about the machines and the techniques for that week.

So this week has been great. I became friends with Fusion 360, at least doing 2D sketches. The week before that was terrible. It was about 3D modeling, and I just couldn’t get my head around it. Yet. I will have to work on that, because 3D modeling will be back, for sure.

So how am I doing emotionally? I’m proud, eager, and stressed. Also, I not satisfied. Proud because I’m really doing this, I’m leaning in, doing, learning, reflecting. Eager to try even more things, learn about all the machines at once. Everything is connected, so sometimes I’m experiencing a catch 22. How can I design a PCB (I just learned that word, yay, it’s a printed circuit board) when I don’t know electronics or what I want to make? Anyhow. Stressed. The 11-12 hours are tough. Add a skiing trip to Chamonix with friends for 8 (!!!) days. So looking forward going away, but I’m not looking forward to the work I need to catch up with. And then the lack of satisfaction. Maybe it’s the wrong word. I wish I could do cooler things. Sounds silly, but yes. I want to make stuff that is useful and … cool. The first week I made a cube of paper. The week after I made a simple website using a template, a monkey can do that. After that, I totally failed 3D modeling. This week I tried to be cool. Ok not cool, but going outside the “cube zone”. I tried to make a laptop case. But I failed, not to bad, but come on, it wasn’t that cool either. I know I’m silly, and also probably just rushing things. I will get there, I just need to learn a few things first.

My playground

February 14th, 2018
Hyper Island

I want to say a few words about Hyper Island. Hyper Island is where I work. It’s a job, but it's also the best playground and development platform I could have wished for right now, and the past three years. I would argue that I have one of the best jobs in the world. I have the greatest colleagues, they mean a lot to me; their playfulness, their laughs, all the great talks we have had, and still have! At Hyper Island I can be myself, and I can change. I learn something new everyday, most often about myself. Continuous learning is what Hyper Island does, and I love it.

Hyper Island started as a school 20ish years ago. Today we’re helping both individuals and companies with their continuous learning and unlocking progress. We facilitate learning journeys and have people experience tools and methods for change and development. We work with creativity, team development, self awareness among other things. We teach digital stuff, and some tech stuff, but what makes us special is our equal focus on how we do things, just as much as what we do. My playground. Now more than ever, supporting me in this journey of becoming a maker.

Thank you Sofia and everyone else involved in making this possible for me.

Things are pretty good

April 4th, 2018

Again, now it's ages since I last wrote a post. Time just flies and there is not enough time to do everything I want to do. My zero to maker journey feels awesome. I believe I'm doing great in the Fab Academy and I'm learning so many new things every week. It still feels like the stuff I do and create isn't that hard or complicated, on my level, and that other students probably are doing cooler stuff, but I'm now ok with that thought and I'm trying to focus on myself instead of others. Plus I have been doing some cool stuff and my confidence in me being able to make whatever I want is slowly growing.

Time is tricky. How could I create more time? I love living in Amsterdam, but at the moment I'm spending about 14-16 hours a day in front of the computer or in school, not really getting to experience Amsterdam. I guess that's not the reason for being here, but a bit more time exploring the city would be nice. I also got so many different projects that I want to develop, both within the frames of Hyper Island, but also looking into opening up a Fab Lab in Stockholm. Parallel to that I also want more time just creating random things in the Fab Lab here in Amsterdam. Last week during Easter I made a lamp - a really nice looking one if you ask me. I laser cut plywood and made 32 different parts that could be assembled to a lamp. I had so much fun creating the lamp, and for the first time, I really felt that what I was creating was really useful. Now I just want to continue creating lots of types of furniture!

I'm actually more than half-way in the Fab Academy now, only two months left now. My idéa for my final project is stressing me a lot. I want to make something useful, and the building blocks that I thought of in the beginning doesn't feel that useful anymore, especially because I will probably not be able to create more than three or so, making them pretty useless to play with - who wants to play with only three blocks? I will have to do some thinking. It would be nice to create something for kids, but what do kids really need to explore and be creative? No much. A stick or a toilet paper roll is enough for a kid to have fun for hours.

I’m back to confused

May 14th, 2018

This is an emotional rollercoaster! It’s (again) a while since I last wrote something here, and I have been pretty good since, but now I’m back to confused again. Or maybe the word confused doesn’t best describe what I’m feeling. I wonder what I have learned. Could I potentially teach someone this? Probably not. Good thing I don’t need to teach anyone, but explore together and maybe facilitate a learning journey for someone else. But when people casually ask me what I have learned and what I have done, I barely know what to answer. I say something like “I have been doing lots of electronics and woodwork”. Such a terrible answer! In so many ways! First, electronics is what I find hardest during the course, and I still don't get it. I mainly do basic stuff and I could barely explain the difference between current, voltage and resistance. Secondly, woodwork?! This is not a course in woodwork! I just happen to use some plywood or similar to make some of the stuff. Then overall, I have learned so many more things, more interesting things. And it’s not about the specific weekly assignments, it’s about my overall experience and me being comfortable and believing that I can make anything I want. But what am I so confused about? What am I feeling? Don't know, can't put my finger on it. Time is ticking and it’s about two weeks till I have to go back to Sweden. The course isn’t really over by then, but I have to leave for two lovely weddings in Sweden. I’m feeling cool, cool that I’m doing this, cool that I’m putting myself outside my comfort zone. But not cool enough. I showed one of my PCB boards to a colleague in Stockholm. She, of course, asked, “what does it do?”. I hated my answer, for two reasons. I hate that the only thing the board can do is to turn on a LED. But what I hate more is the fact that I’m not proud of that - I MADE A BOARD FROM F*CKING SCRATCH AND MADE A LED BLINK! Not everyone knows how to do that! But again, why do I still care about what other people think and do? This should be about me and my learning. And I guess it is. Just this reflection makes it truer than ever. Me me me. I'm learning so much. And mainly about myself. That's nice.