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Margalus #4

A long time ago Sarah and I decided we wanted a big family — a family that, when the going got rough, could support and sustain itself. We are very lucky to have three beautiful children, and are ready to bring another into our group. Meet the newest addition to our clan — due late January.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Lockport Makers Park

Here’s a fun thing! I’m working with the city of Lockport on a feasibility study to develop a Maker’s Park. If you’re in the Chicago south suburban area, are part of a group into craft/making, and interested in talking about it, hit me up!


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

IRL and IRL2 Student Employees

Our student employee pool is growing. We’re now at 16 employees trained in digital fabrication, Internet of Things, first aid, CPR, and so much more. Very proud of these students, their capacity for learning, and the continued growth of the Idea Realization Labs.

Hire these students if you have the opportunity!


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Spacelab has a new home!

Here’s a video of the new space we just moved into at Lockport, IL.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Isle Royale 2019

Some photos from my backpacking trip to Isle Royale National Park for 2019.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

The IRL2 is Coming Online!

Photos by Haley Sullivan, Claire Rosas, and a few by me.

Photos by Haley Sullivan, Claire Rosas, and a few by me.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Maintaining Communication and Tribe in Makerspaces

Every makerspace I’ve created has started out with very small, organic growth. Meet as a small group of folks in a coffee house or a restaurant and brainstorm what the organization could become. From there scale up and, if you’re doing it right, become a group of 30, 40, 50+ people and so on.

As the organization grows it becomes hard to have that same community feeling as the small room of people. In-person meetings, while still important, are no longer sufficient to maintain group cohesion. The organic nature of things somehow begins to feel more forced.

This is the challenge of managing a large egalitarian-leaning group: everyone is equal and communications are flat. Flat communications, unlike schemas more pyramid-oriented (top-down), are noisy. So we look for tools to keep everyone connected. We try social media, chat clients, forums, wikis, and everything in between.

But these also seem insufficient. So where do you go from here?

By abstracting up. Fragmenting the growing group into somewhat smaller nodes, and giving: a) people within those nodes means to communicate with each other, and b) each node the ability to interface with other nodes. Nodes can be anywhere up to 30 individuals, and people can shift between them.

The answer doesn’t lie in more structure from the top down, but in structure across the base. This reduces noise while maintaining the flat nature of the organization.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Metaphysics of Objects – Book Selections

As mentioned before, I’ll be teaching a Metaphysics of Objects course at DePaul this coming fall as part of our new Industrial Design program. One of my projects this summer has been to put together relevant literature that supports the course as it’s framed: a class where making is central, and supported by the philosophical tenets of speculative realism. (sidenote: I am still looking for works to draw from, so if you have any suggestions, hit me up on Twitter)

Here are the works that are central to the course:

Selected readings:

The challenge now is to create course projects that guide students through the philosophy, helping them develop metaphorical frameworks for creating objects in practice.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

NYT Piece – Where Are All the Bob Ross Paintings?

From the New York Times:

The Smithsonian also acquired fan letters sent to Mr. Ross, including some written after he died of lymphoma in 1995 at 52. “These letters help reveal the significant impact Ross has had on diverse individuals and communities, helping them to express and feel better about themselves,” Mr. Jentsch said.

The paintings and other objects officially became part of the museum’s permanent collection on March 22.

Best part is at the end when, in an interview, Ross says his paintings will never be in The Smithsonian.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Hiring Process

The rapid expansion of our innovation space offerings at DePaul has led to many scaling issues, and one of them is hiring. A few months ago I hired ten new employees (to a total of 16 reports). This was a massive undertaking, and as I filtered through applications and ultimately interviewed dozens of candidates, the inadequacy of my hiring processes became apparent. I knew what kind of employees our spaces needed, and had a decent set of questions, but it didn’t feel like there were any verifiable metrics for me to judge candidates on.

Now, as we look to potentially further expand at DePaul, I’m again faced with this problem. Only this time I have a potential solution thanks to this HBR podcast, which is the real reason I’m writing this. Anyone who’s hiring folks should check this episode out. It goes into some depth on developing metrics and standards for hiring that aim to give employers reproducible results. Check it out.


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus