by Daniel Terdiman May 23, 2012
One hacker has her own idea of what a Lego set for girls should be. If 10,000 people agree with her, the toymaker could find itself producing her hacker-focused design.
The full display of Ladyada's Workshop, a proposed Lego set intended to show that girls can be hackers and makers, and not just stick to stereotyped gender roles. (Credit: Adafruit Industries/Bruce Lowell) Full set of images at http://news.cnet.com/2300-10797_3-10012384.html
For Limor Fried, a hardware hacker and leader in the booming maker and do-it-yourself movements, there was never a question of waiting for someone else to jump in and do a better job of inspiring girls than Lego has done with its widely-panned Lego Friends set.
The product was featured on the cover of Bloomberg Business Week last year and drew worldwide attention as the global toy company’s first major attempt at showcasing girls in a new set. Still, many Lego fans were upset that the company had focused on well-worn stereotypes and had ignored the modern reality that girls can do pretty much anything they want, whether or not there’s pink or purple involved.
For Fried, who runs open-source hardware developer Adafruit Industries, it sounded like it was time for a little culture hacking.
This week, Fried and business partner Phillip Torrone unveiled Ladyada’s Workshop, a Lego set they designed that features Ladyada (Fried’s hacker alter ego, wearing her work outfit) in her comfort zone: a workshop with a pick-and-place machine, a laser cutter, a sewing machine, a soldering station, a computer, a microscope, and shelves of parts and packages. And for good measure, her cat, Mosfet, looks on admiringly.
You might think that this is pure folly, but Fried is banking on succeeding at one of Lego’s recent initiatives. Known as Lego Cuusoo, it can commit the toymaker to manufacturing any community-created set that gets 10,000 votes on its Web site. As the Lego Cuusoo site puts it, “Have an Idea? Create a Project, share your product concept, and see what other people think….Projects with 10,000 supporters are reviewed quarterly by Lego for a chance to become an official Lego product.”
Spark a Movement sent that letter, along with an online petition that eventually had more than 56,000 signatories, to Lego, demanding that the company “stop selling out girls.”
Note: DO IT! There’s nothing wrong with skillful intelligent girls and women! REALLY! And it spells freedom for men too!