Doing it For Free

Portland Monthly and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) joined forces for just such an exploration. We queried our readers and experts in numerous fields to put together a list of 130 leading Oregon innovators, then assembled a panel of five community leaders with a wide-angle view of the future. post

VIMEO 29495670 Ward Cunningham speaks to profit vs. not-for-profit computer programming and talks about the benefits of a community of creative people.

In the modest home he’s shared with his wife and two sons in Garden Home since arriving to work as principal engineer at Tektronix in the late ’70s, Cunningham’s many computers are actually outnumbered by inventions: a home temperature and humidity monitoring system and a range of kinetic sculptures he can set into motion with his iPhone, what he calls “one-day projects,” crudely built from hobby-shop parts but often driven by the latest in web technologies. Variously describing them as “ways of seeing” or like the exercises of “playing piano,” they are important to his thinking because they are not his job.

“I think of myself as an artist when I want to free myself from the obligation to deliver something,” he says. “I think artists are pretty good at separating what they want from what the customer wants. And with that is mastery. Sometimes you master skills so that you can apply them in a fresh way. I’m always working on mastery of computers. The challenge is to will them into something worth doing. And ‘worth doing’ is artistry.” —Randy Gragg