7 — Kevin Kelly

In this special episode of Looking Sideways, I talk with writer, editor and internet pioneer, Kevin Kelly. He’s just published a new book, The Inevitable, which draws out a broad sweep of trends that he believes will shape our future.

The ideas are set out with the confidence that you’d expect from a book with such a bold title. And while Kelly’s work has been very influential to me over the last 20-odd years, I found much in it that I disagreed with. So this was a great opportunity to understand his perspective, and in particular his optimism, better.
In this interview, we cover his formative years travelling, writing, and getting online in the 1980s, and how these experiences shaped his thinking. He talks about the differences between protopian and utopian thinking. And he extols the virtues of both maniacal leadership and collaborative, “socialist” technology.
We also cover one of the most deeply embedded forces in technology today – data collection – and consider how smarter data-driven services can be developed without allowing unbalanced surveillance states to emerge in their wake.

This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production.

6 — Kazys Varnelis

Today’s guest, Kazys Varnelis, helps me take a look at today’s maker culture through the lens of the Arts and Crafts Movement, as well as the many DIY and counter-culture movements that sprang up in the second half of the 20th Century.

We talk about making as a startup culture, and making as a form of everyday life. And we spend some time thinking about the things that don’t seem to count as making, from cooking and gardening, to renaissance fairs and fanzines.

Finally, I encourage Kazys to engage in some reckless speculation about what the future might hold for making cultures, and he nobly obliges.

Kazys is a lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Limerick and also teaches at Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the Director of the Network Architecture Lab and co-founder of the conceptual architecture/media group AUDC. He’s also an artist, and editor and writer of many books.

This episode riffs off an article published in the New Yorker in 2014 by Evgeny Morozov, called Making It. If you haven’t at least skimmed that piece, I’d recommend doing that first, then coming back to this. It’s all right, we’ll wait.

Show notes

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 27 March. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.

This is the last episode in this series; thank you to everyone who has supported this show, especially all my guests, Lighthouse and Resonance FM. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening too.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM.

5 — Thomas Lommée

Thomas Lommée is a designer who maintains the OpenStructures project, a “construction system where everyone designs for everyone.”

OpenStructures is an experiment that explores what happens when people design objects using a common open standard — allowing for objects to be reconfigured or adapted over time, and parts to be swapped out, exchanged or added to create new objects. It’s like a participatory Lego that is open to anyone, and can be used to make anything from a toy to a lamp; a kitchen appliance to a living structure.

We talk about the surprising things that happen when you can reconfigure the world around you; possible futures for open design systems, and the value of  designing in public – when objects ‘come alive’.

Along the way, we ask how designers get paid in a digital economy, how is power and reward shared out between platform owners and content creators, how can complex objects be made out of primitive grids, and what is the role of makerspaces, libraries and other public institutions in a world of open participatory design.

Show notes

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 20 March. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM.

4 — Sara Hendren

This week, I talk with Sara Hendren about the role of art in engineering and design, and how we can make use of unresolved questions, ambiguity and productive uncertainty, to make things that better serve human needs.

Sara teaches socially-engaged design practices, adaptive and assistive technology design, and disability studies for engineers-in-training in her role as assistant professor at Olin College. She also runs the website Abler, “tracking and commenting on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, the future of human bodies in the built environment, and related ideas.”

Show notes

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 13 March. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM.

3 — Chris Schwarz

This episode features the woodworker, writer and publisher Chris Schwarz. Chris runs the small publishing company, Lost Art Press, which specialises in finely made books on hand-working practices. He uncovers historical texts that show us forgotten ways of working, and also publishes new work, such as The Anarchist’s Design Book, that show the continuing relevance of hand-work today.

We talk about what anarchism means in the workshop, the freedom for workers to own tools in the guilds of the 17th and 18th century, and the relationship between conflict, furniture and modernism, from the Campaign furniture of the British Empire to the Utility furniture of post-war Britain.

Enzo Mari gets a look-in, as is becoming inevitable in this series, and Chris bemoans the decline in the quality of nails available today.

Show notes

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 6 March. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM

2 — Will Holman and Pascal Anson

In this episode I talk to two guests who share an interest in remaking the world around them, First, we head over to Baltimore, to meet Will Holman, whose book, Guerrilla Furniture Design, is a handbook for the resourceful, nomadic maker.

Then we come back to London, to meet Pascal Anson, a designer who specialises in turning the ordinary into the extraordinary – and has also written a book about it.

Show notes

Will Holman

Pascal Anson

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 28 February. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM

1 — Deb Chachra

We talk about the work of the pioneering scientist, feminist and educator, Ursula Franklin, whose book, The Real World of Technology, helps us understand how things are made in modern systems of manufacturing, and how the technology of manufacturing has changed relations in the workplace.

We also talk about what motivates people to make; mundane work and craftwork; and what’s the difference between making a chair and raising a child.

Deb Chachra is an associate professor at the Olin College of Engineering, in Massachusetts.

Links for this episode

This episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 21 February. To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.


This series of Looking Sideways is a Lighthouse production for Resonance 104.4 FM

Looking Sideways Series 2

Hello, and welcome back to Looking Sideways. I took a long hiatus after the first series, but now I’m back with a new series of interviews focusing on making.

In this series, I set out to explore the world of making from the individual craftsperson, to the mass manufacture of  products. I wanted to understand the value of making by hand when the global systems of manufacture cater to our needs so efficiently. Why do we consider the hackspace tinkerer a maker, but not the assembler of iPhones. Is handcraft just nostalgia, or can it point towards a different kind of future.

The episode here is just a test. The first episode will be broadcast on Resonance 104.4 FM on Sunday 21 February.

To listen on Resonance, check out the show page.

Or use the subscribe links on this page to listen in a podcast client.

11 – Mitch Altman

In a special episode of Looking Sideways, I talk with inventor, hackspace evangelist and all-round legend, Mitch Altman, about how he became a maker, the origins of the pioneering Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco, the enduring appeal of the soldering iron, how to start your own hackerspace … and of course, the importance of doing what you love. Continue reading “11 – Mitch Altman”