I’d like to take a moment to give a shout out to all the people willing to take the time and effort to share their knowledge. Think about the last time you were trying to rewire your old washing machine to incorporate a microwave dryer. The first place you turned was the Internet. While it’s possible that the manufacturer has a comprehensive site on the modification effort, it’s far more likely Google will locate an entire community of people willing to tell you what you need.

I spent my Saturday replacing the belt and blades on my lawn mower. At least that’s what I told my wife. Thanks to a very well done YouTube video, it took me less than an hour (no need to share that bit of information with her). I’m willing to bet it took the man longer to make the video than for me to do the work. I’m also sure it’s not the only video he’s made. Did the video attract enough traffic for Google to make it worth his while? I don’t know. I do know his willingness to share his knowledge saved me several hours and at least one trip to the hardware store.

Fortunately, my wife is spending her day with Ronin at another dog show. Why is that fortunate? You see, I have certain standards of decorum and I try not to inflict the sight of my victory dance on her too often. Today though, I deserve to celebrate. Thanks to all the free time I had after working on my mower, I was able to watch a few videos on my Prusa 3D printer and discovered what I was doing wrong.  After five long months, my printer is finally printing consistently. I’d never have managed this success without the support of the 3D community.

    My new Prusa

This is another great example of people sharing their knowledge and ideas to help each other. If you think about it, almost the entire home 3D printer movement is based on people willing to help each other. Open source printers, open source software, if someone develops a new technique or improvement, it’s often shared with the entire community.

A very long time ago, I was fortunate enough to be part of the home computer revolution. I was part of the movement as the computers evolved from almost useless gadgets to the pervasive home computers of today. The list of people contributing to the design of the device you are using to read this post is huge.

I see that same cycle of development taking place in the 3D community. Small companies developing very innovative printers that build on the successes of previous printers. Formerly innovative companies struggling to stay innovative in spite of their growth.

At the risk of sounding like my father’s descriptions of his daily treks to school, my first computer only had 8k of memory with no graphics or method of data storage. As more and more innovative people became involved in the hobby, the home computer evolved to the laptops and tablets of today.

Without those people helping each other, encouraging each other and sharing their knowledge, in order to keep the hobby alive, we’d probably still be using mainframes today.

When I talked about organizations, I commented that you have to have members that contribute. Successful communities are the same way. The 3D community is full of people volunteering advice, models and even free software. All of these people are contributing to the development and popularity of this hobby.

In a large part this is what the Makerspaces are all about, people coming together to share their expertise with other people. The motivation might be money, ego, a true desire to help or even the long view, encourage others in the hopes they will be able to help you someday. It’s amazing how well that last one works.

The next time you’re browsing the Internet in search of how other people converted their 52” rear projection TV into a giant fish tank, take the time to thank a few of them. Better yet, take the time to share your own ideas. It really is amazing what we can accomplish when we share our knowledge.

© Copyright 2017 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen