Why eurisko?

You might be wondering about the name we’re using for the event: eurisko. What does it mean, and why did we choose it?

In short, it means "discover by doing" or "learn by doing". To us on the Eurisko core team, it signifies an open and inclusive community that is passionate about self-directed learning and discovery through hands-on activity.

It’s a name we’ve arrived at slowly over time, through much consideration and some trial and error. It was definitely an incremental process, and I think it’s interesting to reflect on it.


As some of you will now, Ammon, James and myself were part of the core team that ran Australasia’s very first Mini Maker Faire here in Melbourne back in January 2012.

By pretty much any measure, it was a huge success, and we immediately began thinking about how we’d approach a follow up event.

We had attempted to run a similar event in November 2012, but unfortunately this was hampered by difficulties in confirming a suitable venue, and some challenges in meeting O’Reilly’s terms and conditions for licensing a Mini Maker Faire event.

Who is involved, and what do they want?

We reviewed what many of the contributors and participants loved about the earlier event. One of the core themes reflected in that feedback was inclusiveness. People loved the fact that we’d supported a broad range of groups being involved, and that our focus was on community over other concerns. We were very happy to hear that people thought we were easy to deal with, and that they felt it was easy to get involved.

Another key learning was that people didn’t necessarily identify themselves as being part of a single, specialised interest-group: in general, people had an open affinity with and interest in various communities. A number of people felt strongly that they didn’t wish to be constrained by terms or labels. And – perhaps surprisingly for us – , many people did not know what a maker faire was prior to the event, nor did they know much – if anything – about the maker or hackerspace movements. Generally, people either preferred their own definitions, or no definitions at all.

So, if we were to run an event that would best meet the needs of the participants, what was the common element? It seemed to us that everyone involved shared a love of creating things, and perhaps more importantly, the knowledge and processes that support that creation.

What are we trying to achieve?

That insight was pretty interesting to us. We think there is a great energy and potential in what is happening in the maker and hacker communities globally, in the resurgence of interest in crafting, as well as specific areas of interest such as DIY electronics, 3D printing, etc. But it seemed to us that those focus areas might unnecessarily constrain the way we were seeing the broader community of interest and the support that an event might provide.

We thought long and hard about what the key factors were for us and the events we wanted to run, and why those factors were important to us. Doing It Yourself (DIY), Doing It Together (DIT)/ Doing It With Others (DIWO), were common aspects, and after considering that for some time, we agreed that the central thread was the idea of learning by doing: the discovery of knowledge gained through active, hands-on experimentation.

Eurisko is born!

Around that time, Ammon proposed the term: eurisko, the ancient greek word meaning discovery by doing.

At first, it was so different from the other alternatives we’d been contemplating that it looked odd, and out of place. But it wouldn’t go away. It neatly and succinctly captured the essence for us. There was something about it that worked, and the more we thought about it, the better it fit. Eurisko nicely reflects the essence of what we care about.

You might recognise in eurisko the root of modern words such as heuristic – enabling a person to discover or learn something for themselves. Many things can be learnt – and taught – using heuristic techniques, and the learning is both rich and personally rewarding. And hands-on learning is important for supporting the exchange of tacit knowledge. Here are a couple of references on the etymology of the term:

Regardless of whether you identify as a maker, crafter, hacker, tinkerer, inventor, experimenter, programmer, DIx er, up-cycler, recycler, bushie, steampunker, cosplayer, mixed-media artist, permaculture practitioner, sustainability enthusiast ( … or something else we haven’t listed), we think eurisko is for you.

If you love the hands-on discovery of skill and knowledge, eurisko is your event.

Ammon, James and Paul.

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