Thursday, July 23, 2015
Yesterday I found myself "modding" one of my 12-yr old son's Nerf guns. One of his buddies had done it, and now he wanted to. We grabbed a bunch of tools/gear and sat down to hack away. I've built physical things from the ground up plenty of times. Following instruction manuals, or not, to constitute some sort of hardware (models (custom and pre-defined), PCs, bikes, skateboards, furniture, etc...), but I'd never really "mod'ed" anything.
My boy was using the word in a way we didn't as kids. It was weird. We sat there pressing play/pause/rewinding some other kids' YouTube video on how to modify this particular model gun to do some new cool things. The mods were really all about removing limitations put in place by the manufacturer for undoubted liability reasons. It was a ton of fun!
And they my son said something that broke my brain a little. He picked up one of the foam Nerf darts and postulated out loud: "I wonder if we can edit this dart." I'd only ever used that word in the context of code or content. I'd never even heard it used in the context of something physical. He sat there pivoting the foam in his hand, looking at it; wondering. Wondering how he could tweak this physical thing and "edit" it to do something else.
He's growing up in a world of 3D printers and prolific "mod" instructional tutorials online. He's starting to think about the physical world the way I thought about software.
Such a trip.