Our Story

Over the last few months, we’ve come together as co-creators, drawn in by the magnetism of this project.

We’ve experienced disillusionment and a lack of excitement about consumer technology for quite some time. The focus on convenience and consumption has meant easy is mistaken for good and positive usage trends are mistaken for positive effects on people’s lives. There’s an overwhelming sense that what’s gained in hypergrowth and optimization is being lost out of our collective humanity.

Despite this, we each found ourselves energized by the possibilities of this project. We’re excited about this as a tool for communities to transform their digital space and be together in brand new ways, particularly at this moment in history when movement in physical space is restricted. But crucially, we also see this as an important opportunity for thoughtful organizational design and community involvement.

We believe in designing tools to fit how we exist in the world as individuals and groups. For example, MakeSpace uses movement and sound to allow for natural human gathering patterns and group dynamics, rather than forcing people through more elaborate patterns of button presses. MakeSpace allows you to express yourself in a way that a bot cannot.

We prioritize people over profit. We are against extractionism, unsustainability, materialism, and militarism. The organization that houses MakeSpace needs to be an unusual kind of technological company, with its incentives aligned from the start. We feel the best way forward is to create a not-for-profit.

We commit to anti-racism and inclusion in every aspect of MakeSpace: outwardly in everything we create, inwardly for those involved in the creation, and across with our partners. MakeSpace commits to involving and benefiting communities normally not associated with “high tech” development, in particular, Black and Indigenous communities.

In order to live up to these values and push beyond the status quo, we need to innovate not only in the product, but also in how we form an entity, run our internal processes, and share everything we learn back to the community. We’re starting with the humble admission that there are many things we don’t know, and a commitment to iterating, learning, and deeply examining ourselves. We believe this is the way to get beyond good intentions and achieve real lasting impact.

Technology is never neutral. As technology creators, we take responsibility for being constructors of our social world.

— the MakeSpace team

Team

  • Aza Raskin

    Aza is the cofounder of Earth Species Project, a nonprofit dedicated to decoding animal communication. He is also the cofounder of the Center for Humane Technology, and a cochairing member of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Counsel. Aza helped found Mozilla Labs, was named FastCompany’s Master of Design, and was listed on Forbes and Inc Magazine’s 30-under-30.

  • Jason Yuan

    Jason designs interfaces: the metaphors that humanize them, and the systems that scale them. His work ranges from choreographing kinetic type for Klim Type Foundry, to prototyping operating systems, like MercuryOS. Beyond design, Jason is pursuing a career as a smash hit professional stand-up comedian. He studied Theatre at Northwestern University and Graphic Design at RISD before working at Sony Music and Apple.

  • May-Li Khoe

    May-Li is an interdisciplinary artist-researcher-designer-technologist who combines invention with cultural practices, bright colors, faces-on-things, and glitter. She most recently served as VP of Design at Khan Academy. Before that, she worked on new technologies at Apple. May-Li has worked with organizations ranging from IBM Research, the MIT Media Lab, and Dynamicland, to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Universal Music Group, and Oakland Museum of California. She also DJs, dances, and cultivates joyful ways to subvert the status quo.

  • Weiwei Hsu

    Weiwei is an indiepreneur who designs new interactions, both on screen and off. She mixes toys, art, architecture, and community design to create surprising new ways for humans to interact. Her past work ranges from research and development at Dynamicland, to visual design and internationalization at XNode. Weiwei has co-founded countless other projects, from Secret Agent Max at California College of the Arts, to the Tiny Factories artist collective. Sometimes, you’ll find her dreaming about the multiverse of magical disciplines, authoring environments, and inter-generational neighborhoods.

  • Julius Tarng

    Julius likes to learn new things and make tools — everything from spatulas to prototyping software. He works as an independent product designer remotely in Dallas, Texas, and misses being in the same collaborative space as his teammates. "MakeSpace seems poised to change that, and I couldn't resist working with this talented team."

Contributors

MakeSpace is made possible with contributions from these beautiful minds. It is our honor to share the headspace with them.

  • Jens Vetter

    Jens Vetter is an artist, musician, performer and researcher. He creates post-digital interactive sound interfaces and performs live on stage with his experimental music projects Bureaumaschine and Vetter_Huber. He has performed and exhibited at festivals like Ars Electronica, Digital Design Week London, Mutek SF, Lab30 and others.

  • Jessie Char

    Jessie is the co-founder of the Layers design conference, producing events that bring meaning and joy to human interaction. She enjoys experimenting with different forms of craft and technology and finding tiny connections in unexpected places.

  • Maayan Albert

    Maayan Albert is a design technologist based in the Bay Area. She recently graduated from Carnegie Mellon’s School of Design, where she co-created Stamper, a new IDE for p5.js. Maayan is currently working as a software engineer at Lumi Labs.

  • Melena Smith

    Melena Smith is a doctoral student of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine and Chief of Staff to Aza Raskin at Earth Species Project and Center for Humane Technology. She’s committed to the equitable redistribution of wealth, land and power in pursuit of a more just world.

  • Norm O'Hagan

    Heyo! At the moment I’m exploring what it means to career through the mediums of digital, spatial, and theoretical. This takes shape as concept researching at Teal Process & Company, designing for developers at Plaid, and learning alongside the lovely folks at SFPC. I wrote this on Spring NP1, 2020 :)

  • Samurai L

    “Creating and communicating are such fundamental human activities that the softwares we use most fall into one or the other category. But rare are the opportunities to think and work on software that is built fundamentally for both. MakeSpace is a step towards a dream of digital environments that support creating and communicating as bi-directional derivatives of each other accelerated in a feedback loop.”

Co-Conspirators

MakeSpace has only gotten this far due to the thoughtful feedback and supportiveness from our peers, family, and friends. Thank you all so much.

  • Aaina Agarwal
  • Abner Morales
  • Advait Kalakkad
  • Ahmed Best
  • Amelie Johnson
  • Amélie Lamont
  • Andrés Cuervo
  • Andres Reyes
  • Andrew Cheong
  • Anthony Hsu
  • Antony Tran
  • Avi Lonny J Brooks
  • Avi Romanoff
  • Brian Christian
  • Brian Murphy
  • Britt Selvitelle
  • Brian Murphy
  • Brooke Kelty
  • Cameron Burgess
  • Cece Carpio
  • Cyrus Tabrizi
  • Devin Fan
  • Dairien Boyd
  • Dania Cabello
  • Daniel Barcay
  • David Dohan
  • David Sneider
  • Dennis Jin
  • Devin Fan
  • Erica Blaire
  • Erica Deahl
  • Eryen Korath Ortíz Garcés
  • Federico Ardila Mantilla
  • Geoffrey Litt
  • Gray Crawford
  • Heather Mewton
  • Henry Desroches
  • Howard Hsu
  • Humphrey Obuobi
  • Ida Chow
  • Jacob Goolkasian
  • James McMahon
  • Jason Petralia
  • Jeff Dlouhy
  • Jenny Hu
  • Jeremy Paton
  • Jessie Char
  • Jimmy Lee
  • Jodi Leo
  • Joe Perez
  • Juan Pablo Mejía
  • Julia Solano
  • Juliana Mejía
  • Katherine Graessle
  • Kelli Anderson
  • Kelly Lei
  • Kim Williams
  • Kimberly Evans
  • Kris Sowersby
  • Leo Basañez
  • Linda Dong
  • Lindsey Weiss
  • Lorraine Li
  • Marc Reisen
  • Marisa Lu
  • Matt “Mills” Miller
  • Max Krieger
  • Melissa Kim
  • Michael Morgenstein
  • Miles Robinson
  • Monica Chang
  • Myles Johnson
  • Nadia Mufti
  • Nathaly Otero
  • Nati Rincón
  • Paul Soulellis
  • Rachel Mason
  • Radek Osmulski
  • Raph D'Amico
  • Raphael Arar
  • Raphael Schaad
  • Robert M Ochshorn
  • Roseli Ilano
  • Sarah Lim
  • Scott Farrar
  • Siu-Li Khoe
  • Steve Vasallo
  • Stochastic Labs
  • Sydette Harry
  • Tabitha Yong
  • Taylor Rogalski
  • Timoni West
  • Tobias McGuigan
  • Todd Diemer
  • Tomo Kihara
  • Tristan Harris
  • Vero Bollow
  • Vivek Venkatraman
  • Vivian Wang
  • William Felker
  • Yatú Sabae
  • Yoshiki Schmitz



Special thanks to our founding sponsor, Center for Humane Technology.

FAQ

  • What do you mean by “thoughtful organizational design and community involvement”?

    Here's what we mean:

    1. Supporting anti-racism and inclusion via organizational processes. That means changing whose ideas are valued, and who is hired, fired, rewarded, how, and why.
    2. Practicing constant mindfulness and iteration within these internal processes, including everything from daily internal dialogue to yearly feedback. For example, decision-making meetings that traditionally favor performed confidence over reasoning will include non-verbal collaborative thought collection rather than verbal debate.
    3. Involving and centering audiences and communities not normally associated with the creation of new technology, particularly BIPOC communities.
    4. Valuing and incorporating the input of these audiences and communities, not only through words but also through actions.
    5. Developing and structuring internal incentive systems to support the change we want to see in the world. This includes tracked metrics, reward systems, and compensation of any kind.
    6. Sharing and telling the story of this work, to give back to the greater community, and set an example for how the future can be in terms of people and work, not only in terms of product but also in terms of practices.
  • What… are you a company… uh, what are you?

    Right now this is a project that’s brought us together. We plan to form an entity, most likely a not-for-profit.

  • When did you start working on this?

    In some sense, in April. In another sense, maybe our whole lives?

  • What kind of organizations are you interested in partnering with?

    We’re especially interested in working with people who professionally get other people together in carefully designed ways to create meaningful experiences. But really, we believe that building with people who are usually left on the margins is likely to make things better for everyone, as per the Curb-Cut Effect.

  • When can I play in MakeSpace?

    Right now, the software is in a messy primordial state. It doesn’t yet have easy sign up or permissions control, since our focus so far has been on trying out the core concepts. That said, although we aren’t circulating anything widely yet, reach out anyway, especially if you have a use case that might be interesting to test out.

    A lot of how quickly we can get this out the door depends on the help we get making that happen. If you’re interested in helping with development, we want to know!

  • Can I draw my own spaces?

    Yes! MakeSpace lets you and others draw the spaces you inhabit. MakeSpace comes with a number of primitives, like FaceDocks, Rooms, and Web Frames, as well as text, drawing, and images. All of our examples are built from these basic building blocks!

    One of the things that we find greatly exciting: making tools that reduce the distance between thinking and making.

  • Can I email you all?

    We will see everything that comes in via this form. Please reach out there, thank you!

The most common reaction we receive when demoing this is, “Can I have this now?”

We need your help making this project blossom into something everyone can use. Whether you can offer funding, expertise, interdisciplinary and organizational partnership of all kinds, or just the patience to hammer on prototypes and provide thoughtful feedback, let us know!

If you are wondering, “Who me? But I don’t work in technology!” we absolutely want to hear from you. Whether you’re a school teacher, student, small business owner, artist, musician, theater person, event organizer, immersive designer, community organizer, activist, or in some occupation we haven’t even dreamed would use this yet, we’ll probably need you.

We want this to be for communities, by communities. We’re committed to inclusivity and anti-racism in everything we do, and expect the same commitment of our collaborators.

Get involved