Bio: David F. Flanders 3D Printing Evanglelist

•September 14, 2013 • 2 Comments

Thanks to a little video I did a couple of years ago, I’ve been asked to speak at several events on ‘what 3D Printing has to do with you & your sector, and how it is going to change everything – again”.  Ever since my TEDx talk I’ve been scanning the web daily for the new kinds of objects that exemplify the paradigm shift that 3D printing will bring about to everything.  I’m so confident in my compendium of 3D printed examples I like to playfully challenge anyone to give me ten minutes of their time to tell me the following: a.) what sector are you in, b.) what do you personally contribute to that sector, and c.) what wild ideas are you personally passionate about.  Based on these three things, I’ve yet to meet someone who I can’t “convince” that 3D printing is a very real option for them to innovate in their sector.  In short, 3D Printing applies to everyTHING! Challenge me, I dare you 😉

On to my speaker bio (for David F. Flanders, my friends call me ‘Flanders’)

Short Bio:

David F. Flanders has been involved with 3D Printing since 2009, when he first met Dr. Adrian Bower and the RepRap project in the UK[1].  “Flanders” (as his friends call him) has spoke on ‘the disruptive rise of 3D printers’ at multiple ‘innovation events’ including TEDx as well as on radio broadcasts such as the BBC’s Click programme.  David’s key message is about how individuals now have the capacity to be their own ‘Digital Blacksmiths’ who can wake up each morning with a new eureka idea and then proceed to design, smelt and print the product ready for selling by the time they go to bed.   In addition, David is very passionate about teaching others to both use and build 3D printers so that anyone can join this innovation revolution – become a Digital Blacksmith today!  In short, “3D Printers will change everything in your sector, again!

[1]= RepRap is a self replicating desktop 3D printer that prints its own parts… cue Terminator soundtrack 😉

Long Bio:

3D Printing: Are you ready to innovate like never before?! – David F. Flanders has been involved with a specific type of 3D Printer (and its community) called RepRap since 2009.  The moment David met Dr. Adrian Bower he knew that the world would never be the same (listen to Flanders and Dr. Bower talk on the BBC’s Click Radio programme).

Flanders alongside his fellow “Digital Blacksmiths” built a first generation RepRap known as the ‘Darwin’ and since then this printer has ‘printed’ four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren (and a quad-copter!).   Flanders continues to roam the globe encouraging people to participate in ‘3D Printer Parties’ which “barn raise” 3D printers in a weekend.

Flanders will teach anyone from six years of age to one-hundred-and-six years of age to design and print their own objects.  David firmly believes the revolutions that desktop 3D printing will bring about will be by inspired individuals working independently and in collaboration with other talented individuals (“wisdom of crowds”).

Most people who have worked with 3D Printers (and it goes back almost thirty years now) have been focused on something called ‘Additive Manufacturing’.  The difference with the RepRap is that it is NOT ‘additive manufacturing’, in fact it is not manufacturing at all, in the same way that owning a desktop paper printer is not the same as owning a newspaper printer (think about what desktop paper printers did to the market).

The coolest thing about the RepRap is that it is a project whose goal is to create a 3D Printers that can print itself (…cue Terminator soundtrack).   The reason this Desktop 3D Printer is so revolutionary is because it democratizes manufacturing, for those of us lucky enough to have a laptop and a 3D printer on our workbench; we suddenly have the ability to be innovator, designer, smelter, manufacturer, market and be the salesperson all in one!  Think about that – to have the ability to have a Eureka moment and within the same day design the object print it and sell it to someone else.

Some additional things I’ve done in 3D Printing that might be worth picking and choosing to add to my speakers bio:

  • Currently working at the University of Melbourne where Flanders is hoping to enable the next generation of brilliant inventors to change the world with 3D printing.
  • Runs a summer school where students are given the ability,to innovate and print 7 products in 7 days.
  • {to add more anon}

TED talk on 3D Printing and the Future

•September 4, 2013 • 3 Comments

Your truly giving a talk at TEDxHamburg on the Future of 3D Printing.

Announcement of my new role as ‘Research Community Manager’ at the University of Melbourne

•July 16, 2013 • 4 Comments

I’m pleased to announce my new job as “Research Community Manager” at the University of Melbourne.

Note: please do take a moment to update any contact details you have for me: <– this link is where I try and keep an up-to-date version of my contact details, for when you are wondering which email of mine to use 🙂

Hello to my new colleagues at the University of Melbourne, I look forward to meeting with you in person.

Ok, so what is my new job about? As an elevator pitch to ‘Jane Citizen’ (aka so my friends & family outside the sector will know what I do!):

The University of Melbourne’s Research Community Manager will make sure the left knows what the right is doing, that duplication is limited, that people feel a sense that you want them to do the best, most innovative research they can muster; all within a climate of innovation, accuracy, freedom, and limitless information empowerment!

But why have a Research Community Manager (or more importantly, why doesn’t your University have a Research Community Manager?) – Let’s consider some numbers from the No.1 University in Australia:

3,500 Staff
5,000 Research Staff
16,000 Taught Postgraduate**
800 Doctoral and Post Doctoral Students*
=> 25,000 Researchers (that’s a very large community)

This number is massive for a community[2], and when you consider how many more people these +25k researchers collaborate with beyond the walls of the institution internationally it almost feels impossible to imagine how change could be affected… or is it?

Tools+Data Research Connection Pyramid

Researchers might not see it yet, but there is an interwoven community waiting to emerge via tools+data.

To quote from Dr. Steven Manos (my new boss and leader of the #ResBaz movement[1], from which my new job is founded):

“The paramount objective of this position will be to inspire researchers with new ways of doing their research through building the community around the new core research paradigms of tools+data. Researchers and research students** interact with information technology every single day, and they are becoming more and more dependent upon digital tools to do their work. These digital tools along with the IT skill levels differ widely between disciplines. The traditional IT helpdesk simply cannot support the breadth of tools and the depth of support needed by the community. The University has already undertaken a multi-million dollar programme of works in the last three years to build IT services tuned to the needs of researchers, including cloud and data storage infrastructure. However, there’s still a long way to go in solving the researcher’s problem of ‘what does this mean to me?’, and mapping their research problem to solutions that are supported by the technology.

The above problem provides us with a great opportunity to establish communities that are cross-disciplinary which can support one another in new technology adoption (helping create a more porous University, bringing researchers out of their departments to work across new tools+datasets. This model will engage and inspire researchers, help solve their everyday research problems and (most importantly) address the needs of the digital era within which we live. After all, researchers don’t consume IT services, they consume collaborations.

It’s safe to say that taking this approach across an institution the size of Melbourne is a world-first.  This is pivotal role that will have a direct impact on the University’s ability to achieve its strategic aim of being one of the leading universities in the world.”

So what are the pragmatics of this post, how do I even begin to support Dr. Manos’ world-first vision!?  First and foremost, is the team I’ll be working with (who thanks to previous engagements I’ve already had the pleasure of working with, and am looking forward to doing so more).  I’ll introduce my new team via a further blog post, hopefully over on their blog.

Second, is the audience.  If the above vision is going to have an effect on 25K+ researchers then we’ve got to find a way to get their attention.  I believe that attention can be obtained through early career researchers, or more specifically though the seventeen-thousand postgraduate and doctoral students at the University.  In short, we must approach the community from the bottom-up if we are going to get top-down attention[4].


To achieve top-down engagement we must balance out how we engage our research community from the bottom-up, this will be through the 68% foundation of our community: postgraduates.

**So why do we feel that postgraduates are the key to affecting the entire research community?  Well, other than the democracy of the situation (68% of the community are postgraduates), is that postgraduates are the ones sitting in the lab atop the data+tools most of the time, and are also the people who can get the professors attention (well sometimes, see cartoon below).

Even at 17k people the community is too large to engage, hence the need for champions.  In the coming months, as part of the #ResBaz initiative I’ll talk more about how we are recruiting postgraduate students as research community ambassadors.  We’ve already had some success via events like #ArtsHack – stay tuned to the #ResBaz channel!

In the next couple of months we’ll roll out several more initiatives aimed at recruiting postgraduate students as champions.  For example, we are working on a similar postgraduate workshop utilising tools such as #RStat through global movements such as Software Carpentry via Mozilla and ‘School of Data’ via the Open Knowledge Foundation.  This is perhaps one of the most important parts of my job: that we remain outward looking and collaborative in our approach.

Melbourne University geographically sits atop the city of Melbourne - the 'most livable city in the world' and will accordingly embrace that entire community.

Melbourne University geographically sits atop the city of Melbourne – the ‘most livable city in the world’ and our research community will accordingly embrace that entire hive of minds.

Finally, I’d like to state some personal objectives for what I am hoping to achieve in my new role (I’m not sure I know how to track these metrics, but I want to ‘go big or go home'[5]):

There are three main metrics in which I would like my new job as Research Community Manager to impact:

  • No.1: The University of Melbourne will increase its world ranking as a top-tier University.
  • No.2: The graduates from the University of Melbourne will be the most highly sought after skilled talent in Australia.
  • No.3: The research community at the University of Melbourne achieves more start-ups than any other University in Australia.

Wish me luck!!! 🙂


[1]= Please see the #ResBaz initiative which Dr. Manos has spearheaded, an overview is available here:

[2]= As a long time community manager, a more realistic number for a community manager is somewhere nearer Dunbar’s number of ~200 people, which can then be inferred to around 2,400 people (200 champions via the smaller events they can put on of about a dozen people => 2400 ‘communally’ engaged).  The question will be: ‘how do we break past this number to affect even more of the research population!?’

[3]= not to be confused with a pyramid schema, more akin to the network effect.

[4]=  As a manager responsible for writing the justification of this community, I’d like to comment on the importance of having both a top-down strategy for engaging world class researcher as well as bottom-up initiatives for engaging researchers who will soon be the new world class researchers.  Culturally speaking, my observation of Australia’s research community (in comparison to the UK & USA) has been one where the top-down is preferred over the bottom-up (government funding through eresearch initiatives seem to prefer this approach?).  I don’t wish to suggest one is better than the other, just that you need both bottom-up and top-down to affect change.  Accordingly, the strategies I will put forward in my new management role will aim to provide this balance, and further-to  encourage other Universities to consider (via their own #ResBaz initiatives) how they can help better balance their research engagement processes across their entire research community (not just the top of the pyramid).

[5]= I’ve pleased to say that through this job I’ll be able to apply for permanent residence status in Australia making Victoria one of my new ‘homes’ alongside Colorado and England.

GovHack the Olympic Trials of Developer Events?

•June 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

DISCLAIMER: I’m quite sure my analysis has errors / and that my opinions are odd / but that’s what the comments section is for – hoorah!

It has been over three weeks since GovHack and I’ve only just now had a minute to stop and write some quick thoughts down.  To say the least, Govhack was an incredible achievement.  The team in Canberra, lead by Pia Waugh, has taken an event that was a very good event and turned it into a world leading data event <–  it is this potential which has me truly excited.  This post explains why.

GovHack Olympiad Champions: Team Unlockd

Let me explain: being a citizen of the US & UK [1] means I’ve seen my fair share of developer events over the past decade in all three countries, however nothing has topped this event.  “Why?” might you ask: quite simply because Australia has once again punched above its weight in terms of per population developer talent.  The small population of this country, means that Govhack as an idea has spread further and faster than anyone of us could imagine.  Give this event another two years with this amount of success and you’ll be able to ask the average person on the street if they know about GovHack and the answer will be “yes”.  As evidence to this, let me quickly list some of the coverage this event received from the media:


 So why is the nation interested in GovHack and what makes it a worthwhile story?

  • First off, GovHack is the friendly competition among talented, smart & creative people.  This event (with a little more crafting + fan base) will be as enjoyable to watch/participate in as is going to a football match on the weekend.  In fact, I think this competition is so interesting it could and should be an Olympic sport[3] <– I’m actually quite serious, imagine some of the great code-sporting events that could be created, e.g. the developer decathalon, the code high jump, the data greco-roman wrestling… etc.

  • The second reason (which I’ll cover over on the OKFN blog) is that this event represents a growing community that will be heard by politicians, academics, corporations and anyone else who believes in a better Australia.  This event is far more than just a competition, it is changing the way we think about how we live our civil lives.  See the OKFN-au blog for more.

For the purposes of this post, let’s pretend that GovHack *is* a series of Olympic events, imagine how much more exciting we could make this event to the rest of Australia! 

The GovHack Medals Table:

Let’s look at the big winners this year.  Here is the medal table for national prizes[2]:

  1. Perth: 11 x Gold (33) + 2 x Silver (4) + 4 x Bronze (4) = 41 points

  2. Sydney: 4 x Gold (12), 4 x Silver (8), 1 x Bronze (1) = 21 points

  3. Canberra: 3 x Gold (9) + 4 x Silver (8) + ,2 x Bronze (2) = 19 points

  4. Brisbane/ Goldcoast: 4 x Gold (12), 1 x Silver (2), 2 x Bronze (2) = 16 points

  5. Melbourne: 3 x Gold = 9 points

  6. Adelaide: 3 x Gold = 9 points

  7. Tasmania: 2 x Gold = 6 points

  8. South Australia: 1 x Gold = 3 points

Side note: like the Olympics there is always one event that everyone watches (i.e. the 4×100 medal relay).  IMHO the event at GovHack to watch is the prize at the top of the list: ‘Best Open Government Project’.  As you all know the Gold medal was a tie! ← shocking!!! A tie between the Unlockd team from Melbourne and TheOpenGuys in Canberra means we’ll have to watch closely next year to see who finally is the top of the podium.  A rivalry begins 😉

Overall the national prize winners were:

GovHack Medals Table: 1st: Perth, 2nd: Sydney, 3rd: Canberra

GovHack Medals Table: 1st: Perth, 2nd: Sydney, 3rd: Canberra

Congratulations one and all, just know Melbourne will be back next year more beautiful and brilliant than ever.

The GovHack Money Table:

The above ‘medals table’ is only half the story. Another way to look at the winners is the amount of prize money that each state gave away locally.  Which States were the big winners in terms of their State Government, Companies & Sponsors supporting transparent and open government data?

  1. South Australia (Adelaide): $1000*+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+$2000+800+1000+2000+$2000+$40,000+$10,000+$4000+$2000 = TOTAL: $98,800
  2. Queensland (Brisbane+Gold Coast) ← Multiple cities for GovHack (the way forward!): $2600+$1000+$500+$385+$5000+$6500+$6500 = TOTAL: $22,485
  3. Western Australia (Perth): $500+$1000+1000+1000+~$6500 = TOTAL: $10,000
  4. New South Wales (Sydney): $1000*+$1000*+$5000*+$3000+$1000 = TOTAL: $11,000
  5. Australian Capital Territory (Canberra): $1000*+$1000+$5000 = TOTAL: $7,000
  6. Tasmania (Hobart): $1000+$500+$500+~$500 = TOTAL: $2,500
  7. Victoria (Melbourne): $1000+$1000 = TOTAL: $2000

Despite Melbourne coming last this year, we were still the most beautiful 😉  I’d also extend a hand out to my favorite island in the world Tasmania – let us commiserate together in being the most beautiful of Australian locations! Tasmania really did a wonderful job organising, especially given the actual fire they had to fight off!!!

*= these were prizes listed as national prizes put up by states, and won by local teams.

In short, to stick with this Olympics analogy, the winners are….

GovHack Melbourne- Beautiful hacks (1)

  1. Gold goes to South Australia, far and away the winner this year! This level of local support is something for the rest of us to aspire to!

  2. Silver goes to Queensland, who should also get credit for being the first multi-city event, something we in Melbourne are hoping to achieve next year with our bay-sister-city Geelong.

  3. Bronze goes to Western Australia who IMHO have proved to be just amazing this year and deserve a virtual round of applause from all of us for being the champions they are in both the money and medals table!

Closing Ceremony

In closing, I can only express how wonderful it was to be part of this event.  For me the competition is wonderful, and the talent that everyone brought to the table was world class – as country we would have won an international GovHack Olympics.  Next year is going to even be better.

But more than the competition is the community.  Even in the Olympics, the thing that people walk away with is not a memory of all the individual winners but how the event brings people together in new ways.  For me, win or lose, GovHack is just a wonderful, creative, energised group of people who want a better world – I look forward to seeing all my fellow Melbourne GovHack-ers soon, and see the rest of your next year (if not sooner).

May the odds be ever in your favour 😉 ← please do note the irony in this post, as the one thing GovHack demonstrates is that data is something you can tell stories with, as I have done above 🙂

Thanks once again to our  local Melbourne sponsors, please follow their twitter accounts to show your appreciation:

@ M e l b I T S R e s e a r c h



[1]= and hopefully I’ll be an Australian citizen soon as well 🙂

[2]= While some purists may think the Olympics is only a bron and not a brain event, see the 1948 Summer Olympics.

[3]= Please note national prizes which were location specific (NSW & Canberra) were not included in the table as the prizes primarily went to local winners.  I’ve included these prizes in the money league table instead.

[3]= Teams I’ll be cheering for next year include:

The Best of GovHack Melbourne

•June 4, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This post is a #FriendlyRivalry post to all the other GovHack judges and competitors (Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra, Brisbane, Gold Coast, oh yes and our favorite rival Sydney 😉 ).  As a Melburnian I’m wonderfully proud of what the Govhack competitors at Melbourne achieved, and I want to make sure you know about the following before you cast any of your national votes!  I’ll do the same, so please do re-post your top competitors.  Good luck to one and all.

As we all know the nation is about to have an election, but who should you vote for?  Are you going to let the media tell you or are you going to make your own decision based on the actual data?  Here is a quick quiz that just might get you thinking twice about what party you really belong to?

The best hacks are the ones that ‘scratch an itch’.  The first day was full of frustration for the way the data was provided.  This team decided to solve a problem that every GovHack competitor will be thanking them for.  Team Unlock built a platform for unlocking data.  Unlocked transform crappy government spreadsheets, PDFs and other data formats into nice clean CSV & JSON and then automatically builds a profile over the data to show how it can be used as different graphs and spreadsheets.  Oh yes and they built a faceted search engine atop – tpo that.

Are you thinking of moving to the no.1 city in the world? Of course you are, but Melbourne is really a bunch of communities packed together – which community might you best belong to – are you a hipster, a wealthy retiree, a hick from the sticks…  its not as easy as you might think to decide which part of Melbourne and environs you will personally best fit.  Here is an interactive data map that will help you decide just that:

This is just data journalism at its best: giving you the power to see a whole world of immigration data in one visualisation.  Watch this before you listen to any more news which covers just a single story about asylum seekers.

Ever wanted to turn your data into a ring, earrings or a dog tag (maybe now, but now you will want to!). This tool enables you to print your data into one of these objects using a 3D printer!!!  How many companies are going to want one of these to replace business cards?!

This is a beautiful expression of Australian life and death (if only there would have been more time to show each branch as a state/territory, and different leaf colors as different ages).  None the less, I find it peaceful to watch a metaphor of life in this way:

An infographics that children of all ages will love, check out the wales around Australia, see them swim and hear their sounds, educational and fun!

Want to hear what data about urban growth sounds like?! Here is your chance.  A wonderful creative way to think about code and data as art (note: music starts at 2m28s):

For any radio station out there (are you listening TripleJ), see this map app which shows where people in Australia can actually listen to your radio:

Melburnians do you know if your public transport links are crap?! Well now you can know so you can show your local authority how they can make things better!  Check out this infographic of where the best public transport links are.

As someone who has just moved to Melbourne (and fallen in love with this city) this infographic of the Yarra River is truly beautiful as it tells a story about Melbourne is a way that only data from nature can.  Every Melburnian should take the time to scroll over the dot points on the graph and see how our beloved Yarra changes as it flows into our beloved city.

Australians often talk about how much of Australians minerals get exported to China, but do you want to see what that would actually look like on a map, well here you go (enjoy!):

This is a tool that every journalist should be thanking this team for creating – a custom glossary of what politicians say.  A great tool for anyone in politics, journalism or even researchers needing a great study tool:

Here is a map you’ll want to print up and ad to your personal art collection at your home (I know I will!), this looks to be the first in an iteration of this map that will end up being absolutely stunning.  It is already on its way, check it out here:

This app is wonderfully simple and practical as the team that made this actually solved their own problem.  Perhaps the team that came the furthest to compete, from the UK and needing a way to find out about stuff they made this location aware app:

Great to see ‘good honest questions being asked of government’ supported by data:

Some great coding to bring the data together to help tourists know when they should visits different places in Australia:

Love the idea this team had, just a shame that time ran out on them.

A idea to help you in thinking about ‘what is the gap’.

All pictures provided by the fantastic photographing fabulous Fiona!  See more pictures here:

Should the Australian Government be Using OpenStack?

•May 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

@PiaWaugh asked me to facilitate a panel discussion on OpenStack and Government. Naturally, I decided to turn it into a ‘Jerry Springer’ style debate on “Why isn’t government using OpenStack in Australia?”. Interestingly enough, the audience was swayed in what they believed from the start versus the finish (we held a vote for/against at the start and end of the debate). You’ll have to watch the video to see which way the audience (of about 50ppl) voted 🙂

Flanders’ rants

•May 12, 2013 • 1 Comment


This page on my blog is intended to act as a repository for rants. I’ll be the first to admit that these rants (by their very nature) are *not* well thought out and intended more as a place for me to vent about what frustrates me. The point in posting these rants is that at some stage (once I am a bit calmer), I can come back to view these rants in a more methodical and mindful way. The value in these rants is therefore not in the intellectual ideas, but rather in the emotional ideas that provoked their ‘knee jerk’ reaction.  I hope to learn from these rants by posting them publicly, and  (hopefully) through my friends and colleagues I can separate the emotional from my ideological responses.

These rants will not be published in my normal blog feed so if you want to receive them via email you’ll need to leave a comment and then tick the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” box.

NB The other reason for having this page on my blog, is my perception that twitter is increasingly becoming a failed space for having short topical debates that often get kicked off on twitter and usually erode after three or more people join in the discussion.

Rant no.1: Why developer events are not beholden to being sustainable.

Of the ten years I’ve been doing hack events in the US, UK, EU and now Aus** the reoccurring problem that continues to float-up in all these events is people asking (mostly managers): “why don’t these events sustain the products they produce?” – my answer (and I know not all of you will agree) is that these prototypes are not “products”, but rather “pre-seed incubation ideas”.

If people really want to see these ideas “productized” (in the global American sense of the word), then they need to realise that the next steps are incubation programmes in preparation to pitch for seed funding (if they get past that stage then VC / Angel funding, i.e. product business models can come into play).

Our upcoming GovbHack showcase in Melbourne has targeted both the government innovation department (DBI), seed funding via the Melbourne Accelerator Programme (MAP) and If we can get these stakeholders talking we believe we can turn some of the hacks into “products” (though this is a journey of 2-3 years, not a weekend hack).

NB Please know that I am not advocating that all the GovHack entries should pursue a “productization” end goal, but should instead be seen as foundations for societal change and charitable support, hence my involvement with #OKFNau and the promotion of ideas (not products). This is also the reason why the Melbourne GovHack pushed the ‘beautiful data’ theme where ‘hacks’ are metaphorically-equivalent to an ‘article’ in the newspaper re data journalism (instead of a product to put on the shelf).

None the less, I also want to see viable product emerge like @GetUnlockd, and we should all want to see this, as it will be the thing we can all point to and say “that began at GovHack”, which is what politicians and business investors will care about the most.


**sorry for pumping my own tires, but hoping to get your attention!