The value of un-making

Friday March 14, 2014, the M&D class went to an e-waste dis-assembly workshop at La Rockette Libre, a collective comprising of open-source associations. Thank you to Cyril, co-founder of Electrocycle, the association which organized the event. Find the list of items that Cyril and his friends have already catalogued and don’t hesitate to join them every second Friday of the month to contribute!

This workshop was pedagogical for various reasons:

  • It de-emphasized the high level know-how needed to dis-assembly
  • It made participants realize that as the electrical and electronic equipment becomes obsolete, few parts could be reused for electronic mash-up, some could be kept to repair similar equipments (for example keeping a special connection that could be faulty in another device)
  • Participants realized that while sorting appeared essential, it did require a thorough record of process and organization (number or weight of the pieces collected, step-by-step dis-assembly manual)
  • It became clear that given the wide range of brands and models, keeping parts for future use necessitates storage facilities – screws could be sorted out by type and size (size number to be found by comparing them to these found in stores)
  • Un-making or “reverse engineering” is a valuable learning process, which can also be a fun activity
  • It taught us about the importance of saving resources and doing so in the safest manners as possible–thanks to the experts who came along

Following the session, a team of students comprised of Nicolas Benmussa, Charles Clément and Oscar Aguila produced a short video entitled “In E-waste We Trust” and describing how the dis-assembly process went.

This video is not yet a step by step tutorial but it makes us think that it could be. In the context of Agbogbloshie, where not everyone speaks the same language or where many are illiterate, video tutorials could be a medium for delivering basic understanding of e-waste handling much like the videos of the Khan Academy which deliver knowledge to students around the globe.

unmake 3 unmake 5

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