Instructable: How to be Hard to Pigeonhole
May 25, 2011 10:48 PM   Subscribe

We all know Instructables, the crowd-sourced how-to site that brought us great tutorials like "Garbage Bag + Rice Cooker = Alcohol Still," and "Quick Sauerkraut with Caraway Seeds and a Baseball bat" - wait, what? Oh, you must be reading some of Tim Anderson's 200-plus Instructables. Tim's a curious fellow best known for co-founding 3-D printer manufacturer Z Corp (previous-Z) um, no, wait, maybe for writing the Heirloom Technology column in Make Magazine? No? Hmm, then what is he "best known for?" Well, there's a bunch of other stuff in here. . . .

What about that time he almost died while trying to sail from Florida to Cuba in a homemade outrigger canoe lashed together with used bicycle innertubes (previously)?

Or his voyages among California's offshore Channel Islands (in the same canoe as the Cuba debacle, not to be confused with the even smaller one he sailed from Seattle to Alaska)?

Or perhaps it's his conceptual art with painting robots, veggie darts and a faux-vivisectionist Skinner box, from his student days at MIT Media Lab?

Or his contributions to solving the problem of water contamination in African diesel fuel supplies?

Phew! Did I miss anything?
posted by richyoung (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Certainly a character...
posted by Harald74 at 12:34 AM on May 26, 2011


I always misread that site's url as "inscrutables."
posted by Ratio at 1:07 AM on May 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


That makes two of us Ratio. Although "inscrutables" seems pretty apposite here, actually.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 3:29 AM on May 26, 2011


That "garbage bag-rice cooker still" looks like a bad idea at best and potentially seriously toxic. Shame on that guy; that's an irresponsible thing to put out there if he knows much about the risks of distilling... and if he doesn't, uh... do some research first?
posted by dubold at 3:48 AM on May 26, 2011


He does know that some garbage bags contain insecticides, right?
posted by Splunge at 4:30 AM on May 26, 2011


I chiefly know him as the guy that called his site open and sharing until he got a lot of buy-in, then claimed he owned the content and jacked up the price.
posted by DU at 4:36 AM on May 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


It is not really true that you can make sauerkraut without salt.
posted by kenko at 6:33 AM on May 26, 2011


There's a lot of good content on Instructibles, but holding the UI for ransom ("You have to be a pro member to view all steps on one page! You have to sign up for a free account and log in to enlarge images!") strikes me as antithetical the concept of people freely sharing knowledge about how to do things. The site is cluttered with ads, which is a typical (and fair enough) model for sites that have free and pro tiers, but looking at the 'Pro' feature list, all it says is "Less advertising". Bleargh.
posted by usonian at 7:13 AM on May 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tim's a fascinating guy. He used to host these monthly (weekly?) meetings at MIT of hackers doing various odd projects. Totally random and creative stuff.

(I think Tim is just a user of Instructables and isn't responsible for their design and policies.)
posted by Nelson at 7:26 AM on May 26, 2011


Seems like a good guy to have around when the Costner Prophecy comes true. Dude builds boats outta anything.
posted by jrishel at 7:48 AM on May 26, 2011


Whoops, completely my bad. Tim Anderson didn't steal everyone's content. Eric Wilhelm did.
posted by DU at 8:06 AM on May 26, 2011


DU: "Whoops, completely my bad. Tim Anderson didn't steal everyone's content. Eric Wilhelm did."

I did a post about this back in 2009, and I'm astounded that the site is still popular, given how bad the UI experience is. And a whole bunch of people that pulled instructables in protest of the "pro" movement, found that their instructables were "retrieved", and put back up, only now the author had no way to delete or modify them.

But as evil as people may think Eric is for his abuse of Creative Commons, Eric is not Tim. Tim...bless his heart...Tim is a force of nature all his own, and with no responsibility for anything instructablestm does.
posted by dejah420 at 9:57 AM on May 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I got curious, and plugged the GPS coordinates he had at the bottom of the Almost Cuba trip into google maps. calling that a trip to Cuba, is being generous :)
posted by jrishel at 10:54 AM on May 31, 2011


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