My guest this week is Matt Brimer, an entrepreneur and co-founder of General Assembly, a global education business that offers a diverse range of courses, including Android Software Development, Project Management, Data Analytics, and digital marketing. Basically, General Assembly delivers the skills that people need to succeed in the digital economy. Brimer is also the founder of Daybreaker, a dance party that starts and ends before you go to work. Two very different businesses, but both built around strong communities. Brimer stopped by PC Labs for a discussion about the future of work, the state of education, and why the best parties start before 8 a.m.
Costa: Let's start off with General Assembly. You are a serial entrepreneur. You started, I think, two business while you were still in college. You got out of college, and you go, "The world needs General Assembly." What was that need you were trying to fill?
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Brimer: Sure. Yeah. I started two businesses in college, both of which predominantly turned out to be more educational than profitable but fantastic learning experiences.
Now, you're in an education business.
Exactly. Somehow these see a thread. Freshman year, I started an antique furniture business where we were finding old antique pieces of furniture as our school was renovating old buildings on campus. We would buy up and procure old furniture and then sell it online. Tell the story and create certificates of authenticity and whatnot. It was a good cashflow business. It wasn't a venture-backable start-up.
A little bit later in college, I started a social gaming company. It was taking college rivalries and sports rivalries and putting them online and allowing people to play these massively multiplayer games based on risk. Rather than a map of the world, it was a map of your college campus with different buildings and quads and territories that you could conquer or defend.
I imagine a cool version of LARPing. LARPing was the uncool version, and you made it legitimate and socially acceptable.
In a certain sense, yeah. This was primarily played online. It had interesting elements where people would get together for strategy sessions, and people whose girlfriends were at an opposing rival school would be spies for the other campus or something. Ended up raising some venture capital for that, built out a team, had an office in New York, a small army of interns on our campus. The Recession hit in late 2008, early 2009, right when we were trying to raise another round of capital. Our bank account was just going one direction. We weren't generating any revenue to speak of, which apparently is important for running a business.
Who thought? Who would have known?
Not so much profits but definitely revenue.
Anyway, long story short, we made a lot of first-time founder mistakes. By summer of 2009, we had run out of cash and had to put the company to bed. It was a failure. It never got acquired or anything like that. It was a hard time experience to go through. To see this thing, this baby, that it was your creation, that you feel like part of your soul is in this project, and you've been telling all of your friends and family about for so many years and to see it fail, you feel like your project has failed. Your company has failed. Maybe part of you has failed.
It's difficult to go through that and to pull yourself out and realize you and your creation are two different things no matter how deep in the fire it can feel. There's a long life ahead, and there are lots of things to create. It's a journey of experiments, ups and downs. I moved to New York after graduating from college and knew, "Okay. This start-up that I had been working on for the last few years had just failed," but I knew that I was an entrepreneur at heart. Rather than saying, "Well, I failed. Let's go do something totally different," I thought, "You know what? I'm going to double down on this approach," and learned a lot from this failure.
Let me immerse myself in the start-up and tech world in New York and take what I've learned and hopefully go on to start something bigger and better and more successful. It was a combination of just spending time being in New York, going to a lot of meet-ups, meeting a lot of interesting people, developers, designers, investors, entrepreneurs. Just immersing myself in the post-recession New York tech ecosystem, that I started to see the need and the demand for a physical hub, a physical place that could be a couple of things in one.
It could be a community center and a nucleus for the start-up and tech ecosystem in New York where people could come together for events and form friendships and form community. Number two, we wanted to have it be a place of professional collaboration. We realized as all of these start-ups were happening and growing that just working out of a coffee shop or out of your apartment wasn't too fun. At the time, there wasn't that many co-working options for start-ups. This was before we got big and a lot of these other options out there.
We thought, "All right. Let's create a co-working environment for early stage start-ups to share the space." Then, we thought, "Okay. Well, we also have all of these people now that we know in the start-up and tech world who are great practitioners." Experts in their field but based on what they do for a living. Let's have the practitioners come in and teach what they know. We wanted General Assembly to be a place of shared learning as well. That was the vision 1.0 that led us to the beginning of GA.
It was pretty fascinating. When I first heard about General Assembly, it was amazing how many different start-ups were based there. They were working there, they were launched there, or if they weren't there now, they were there six months ago, and now they've moved out and got their own offices. Just having that density of people, all in one space, it seems like that would create a lot of opportunities.
There was definitely a sense of, you get enough density of people and ideas and creativity, and there's a nuclear fusion that happens, coming out of all of that. Probably six months in, we had people coming up to us saying, "General Assembly is a nucleus of the start-up and tech world in New York," which was pretty cool. That was the dream early on. What we realized was, "That's great, but we have a bigger vision on our hands here." Six months in, we found people from all different walks of life. People who weren't already exclusively in tech but people who were coming from the myriad industries of New York City.
People coming from fashion, people coming from journalism, people coming out of real estate, or finance, or art, or music, or any one of these industries that New York has. As so many of these industries were being transformed continuously by technology, as the technology was changing these industries and how they worked and what skills were required. People from these different spaces were coming to General Assembly saying, "Hey, maybe I should learn how to code. Maybe I need to take a more entrepreneurial approach to my career path. Hey, I'm a marketer, and I need to understand digital quantitative marketing."
You get a lot of people coming to General Assembly to learn these digital skills of the 21st Century economy. We realized is, "You know what? College isn't offering these sorts of skills." There's a certain point where here's where higher education leaves off and here's where the digital economy begins. The digital economy is moving this way, fast. College, predominantly, is staying in a similar place. There's this big vocational skills gap around the skills of a digital economy that nobody's teaching. We realized this is where General Assembly can build a whole new kind of educational institution.
You've got the space. You were a co-working space. You pivoted away from that. Give people an idea of the types of skills you can acquire. People always assume, "Oh, I'm going to go there, I'm going to learn how to code," but it's more than just learning how to code. Learning how to code has evolved a lot over time. What's the range of next-generation digital skills that you're teaching people?
Sure. We've grown quite a bit in the last six-plus years of our existence. General Assembly, we have 20 campuses around the world in major cities. A lot in the US, then a number overseas. We also offer a number of our programs online as well. It's trying to focus on online and offline blended models. We focus on a few different core areas. We offer program courses and workshops. Anything from one-night-long to a three-month immersive boot-camp style program around technology, design, business and data.
Within that, topics like digital marketing, front-end web development, backend web development. We have a partnership with Google to teach Android development. We have some data science programs, product management, growth marketing, some financial courses. We try to say, "Okay. What are the necessary and fast-changing skills of the digital economy that employers are looking for and that someone who wants to be relevant and successful in the 21st Century, what do they need to know?" The interesting thing about that is it's changing so rapidly.
One of the things that we talk about is the programming languages that General Assembly is going to be teaching ten years from now, have not been invented yet, probably. We know that we're going to be teaching them ten years from now. We have to create this fast-evolving, always in beta, set of educational curricula that never stops changing, that they can stay relevant to today's world and make sure that whenever you come to General Assembly, that you're always learning the latest cutting-edge skills that are going to be relevant and aren't going to be five years behind because that's not going to help you at all.
Yeah. I think that's one of the advantages that you have, is the agility . If you think about the way traditional higher education works, the curriculums get set maybe once every six months, maybe once a year. Even then, the institutional process, it's very hard to get new ideas into those curricula. You can rev much more quickly than that and say, "Look, this is a new programming language. It just came out. We're going to teach people how to use it now."
That's pretty extraordinary. You talked about blending online and offline education. Obviously, there's a big trend towards online courses, towards online education. What is it that you are doing that can't simply be turned into a PowerPoint presentation with an audio track that then has some built-in testing built into it?
The interesting thing is, General Assembly, we started as an offline educational institution. We were focused on, "Okay. Let's create the best possible experience offline to help people transform their lives and transform their careers." Knowing that, when you want to change your career, and you want to learn a whole new set of skills, you want to go from total novice to employable junior software engineer within a period, that's not easy. It takes a lot of tenacity. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of grit. There are ups and downs there.
It turns out, people, when you're learning something that hard, and that's that much of an intensive experience, it turns out people like to be around people. We started offering these programs in-person with actual instructors. Going online, we were able to take, we still offer everything we do offline, but as we started to expand and offer programs online as well, we were able to take those elements of offline user experience design, to create a small class culture.
How people like to work on projects together and motivate each other. How instructors should interact with students, who were excelling and also students who need some extra support to keep them moving. All of our online products, we build in-house. We have a curriculum development team. We have product teams. It's much more interactive. There are mentors. You're interacting with other students. You're interacting with instructors.
It's not really like a mook or something. It's not just a video. It's much more of an interactive experience. For different courses and different learning objectives, the product experience is different, how people are learning. For example, we have a lot of Fortune 500s and big, big, big companies and agencies who are taking, let's say our essentials of digital marketing course. That program is more self-serve, and you can move at your pace.
Whereas, someone who's taking our web development immersive online program, that moves at a coordinated pace because there's more human interaction on a regular basis. You have a cohort of students. You're responsible to your other students in your cohort. I think a lot of it is just, how do we take what we know humans care about in the real world and bring that online in a way that feels authentic and real and doesn't cheapen the experience?
I'm interested to hear, what's the mix between individuals that want to up their skill level, get that next job, be prepared for that next job and big companies that want to re-train their existing workforce and want to keep the same employees but want to up-skill them in-place? I imagine it's a lot easier for some of these big companies to pay for that education than it would be for an individual.
Yep. We have two different divisions within that part of our education offering. We have an enterprise division that basically will provide robust corporate training for a large organization, for large companies. You're big Brand X, and you have hundreds of marketers around the world. It's 2017, and you realize, "You know what? All of our digital marketers really need to get better at digital marketing. How do we do that? How do we provide this modern day training to a lot of people across different geographies?"
We have products and educational programs that are some of the best in class when it comes to corporate training and provides that sort of skill so that you can level-up your whole team, or level-up your whole organization to stay relevant for today's world. Then, we also have people who are on the consumer side who say, "Look, I've been ... " Maybe, "I've been a retail employee for the last several years, but I'm excited about tech. I don't want to go back to college. I don't want to go to grad school, but I want to become a developer." Maybe you want to join a start-up or something.
How do you do that? Making that career transition, historically, has been tough. Whereas, with General Assembly, you can come in, apply and if you get in, take our web development immersive program. Three months, a boot camp. Graduates coming out of that program, 99% of all of our graduates coming out of our full-time immersive programs who are job-seeking, 99% of them get full-time employment within 180 days of graduation. That's really just a core, the core part of our focus, is what we call outcomes. Making sure that there's a really tangible ROI for our students.
You're going through, and you're investing three months of your life into an educational experience, cheaper and shorter than college by far, but we want to make sure that as students are graduating, that their lives and their careers are being changed. These people are looking for new career opportunities. We go so far as to help these people, support them in their job search and help make sure they get jobs, by bringing in thousands of employers for hiring events and job fairs and mentorship.
When you do that, it's not just about giving people a piece of paper, but we can take someone who's never coded before and within three months of a course and then a few months maybe, of a job search or an apprenticeship after that, they're a junior web developer making a great junior web developer salary, working at an amazing company. That is transformative. That changes their whole life.
Those kinds of stories, especially people coming maybe, from more disadvantaged backgrounds, people coming from other industries who otherwise might never have been able to get into the tech sector, to see these people succeed and their hard work and tenacity pays off and now they're on this amazing upward trajectory, having the skills that they need to be relevant in today's world, that's why we do what we do.
Yeah. We've talked on this show, a lot about automation, about the challenges facing the modern worker, about how lifetime education has got to be the new norm, and you've got to constantly be re-training yourself. Everybody says, "Education is the key. Education is the key."
My question is, is there any limit to how many people can be employed this way and can be up-skilled this way? It's great to learn. Can everybody learn how to code? Is there going to be a need for twice as many web developers out there? Is this a model that works in the tech industry and nowhere else or can it help the larger population?
All great questions.
There was like five questions in there.
Yeah. Let me start answering a couple of them and chip in if I need to do more. Look, I think one of the big macro trends we're seeing is technology is becoming less of industry and more of just a horizontal plane on which new products and businesses and services are built. The metaphor I like to use is, if you were starting a coffee shop today, you wouldn't go around telling people, "Hey, I'm going to start an electricity-powered coffee shop."
It would just be unnecessary. Of course, you'd be using electricity. You'd be paying your employees, and they better know how to use electricity. You'd be buying electrical appliances. You'd be paying to be on the electrical grid. It's just a necessary way of doing business to the point where you don't even need to say it. If you weren't using electricity, you'd probably be running a much more costly and inefficient and maybe very hipster coffee shop. Today-
I was just thinking, that would be great coffee.
You could charge twice as much for it.
Mashing it up with your hand or something. Today, I think the Internet is the electricity of the 21st Century. No matter what business you're starting, you see big, big Fortune 500 companies down to little start-ups, across so many different sectors and industries, that are all starting to leverage the internet, build technology. Build technologies into their product as a core competency, or build tech-enabled products, or use technology to improve their infrastructure and their services, their marketing, whatever. It's just par for the course.
Given that, that everything is becoming ... "Software is eating the world," as Marc Andreessen said. Given that that's continuing to be the case, it makes sense then, that automation is intersecting and is becoming more and more of how business works, how industry works. What that means is there's no doubt going to be a lot more jobs for people who can program, people who are software engineers, but also in other tech-enabled skills in the digital realm.
When we talk about digital marketing, most digital marketers that I know, have some coding capability. They're not software engineers for a living but they know what they're talking about and they have that sort of competency. If you assume all of these industries are changing by technology, then having technological skills to actually program the machines and automate the machines and interface with computers in ways that are creative, in ways that still allow humans to be humans, I think is the best way to avoid getting automated out of your job, which is an increasing concern in recent months, in recent years.
I think if you look at where a lot of people are seeking skills, you're seeing a lot of people come to General Assembly from a bunch of different backgrounds, from maybe jobs that didn't have as upward a trajectory. What's interesting is that you see how there's so much more. If you look over the next 10 years at least, at what the predictions are, there is a much larger number of jobs that are going to be open that require some tech skills, or some development skills, or some software engineering skills, than we can produce CS grads across all of our universities.
That margin between the demand for employees and team members with development skills and the number of students or graduates we're producing with CS degrees, that gap is continuing to widen more and more. I think that there's room for General Assembly in we're doing but I'd love to see more new forms of education in other industries outside of what we're doing but that are looking, how can we equip humans for the 21st Century economy as automation continues to happen? It's not something we want to fight but how do we get on the right side of that equation?
Yeah. I think that it's something in the technology industry, we intuitively see how platforms evolve. We've recognized we're going to have to re-tool constantly. I think you're right. That same process needs to happen in other industries, and I think it needs to be a broader conversation. It can't just be about CS computer science degrees.
It has to be about, how are we going to up-skill our manufacturing base, our service economy? Given the conversation we're having nationally right now, is the country, at large, ready for this transformation that's coming?
I think we need to be. I'm not sure that we're looking at it from the right lens, though, through the right lens. I think there's a lot of talk about, how do we bring factory jobs back? How do we bring jobs back? How do we support people through globalization and automation and some different factors? Jobs that used to be prevalent are less prevalent. Saying that we're going to bring those back, I think is a simplified and misguided notion.
We want to support people who skills are less relevant and whose jobs are going away, but the best way to do that is to say, "Yes. Come and join us in the new economy." Let's create educational platforms. Let's help give people the skills that they need, not for yesterday's economy but tomorrow's economy. I think this is an amazing country. There's a huge number of people who are very motivated, who want to work, who want to be productive members of society, but we can't frame it as simply, we're going to bring all jobs back.
Let's focus on, what are the new forms of manufacturing today? There's some incredible stuff happening in innovation in fabrication, in manufacturing. Let's make sure that we're giving people those skills for where the economy is moving and say, "Okay. If automation is going to continue to happen," again, to me earlier point, "let's make sure that we're giving people skills to be as human as possible." The humans should be the ones programming the machines. The humans should be the ones who are unleashing creativity and empathy and relationships onto the world because of creativity and empathy and those sorts of things; those are much harder.
In fact, maybe those will never be overtaken by AI, but that's where humans can be successful. Let's bring new forms of education. Let's bring new skills to our country as a whole," as opposed to telling ourselves this, maybe rose-colored look back in time, and say, "We'll bring all of these jobs back." Okay. Jobs are going to change but let's prepare people for the new jobs because there's going to be a lot of them if we do things right.
You've obviously done pretty well for yourself so far but imagine you're 17 years old. You've got pretty good grades. You've got some college options, which you'll incur some debt if you go into that four-year college degree. What do you do as a 17-year-old to prepare yourself for the new economy? What skills do you work on?
Let's see. If you can have some level of basic development software engineering knowledge. Even just the point where you're able to have a technical conversation and knowing what's happening under the hood with your computer, or with your mobile device, with the internet. That's going to be helpful.
What's the minimum amount of time that takes? Because people are scared of, "I don't want to be a developer, but I wouldn't mind being able to have that conversation."
Yeah. We have-
How long does it take to be familiar?
That's a tough question. We have workshops and classes that are an evening or a weekend long. We have one, actually, workshop, which is in, I think two days. It's called Programming for Non-Programmers. It's just the basic lay of the land of, "Here's the mechanics. Here's how things work. Here are layman's terms." It's nice because having an understanding of the basic way that tech is built, especially now when you live in a world where you can't open up your devices. It's harder to see what's going on under the hood, so things seem so much more opaque and magical.
There's this separation, for a lot of people, between the devices they use and an understanding of how they work. I remember as a kid growing up, my parents would always bring home old fax machines and copy machines and VCRs and video cameras and stuff, old things at their work or from family or whatnot. My brother and I would have a little set of screwdrivers and pliers and stuff. We would sit at home and take these things apart and go through and take out the little screws and explore and find all of the most interesting bits within the VCR and understand what was going on. We would never build them back into what they were.
It's harder to do that.
Yeah. We usually taped them and super-glued them together and make fantastical inventions, you know?
Like anti-matter converters or something. It was one of the reasons why I'm so interested and in pursuit of current technology myself, because I got a chance to explore the inner workings of these devices that we use every single day and understand what was happening within them. Today, our devices are so minimized and through nano-technology and-
You open them up, and there's a circuit board.
Right. You can barely even tell what's going on unless you understand the code and you educate yourself on what's going on under the hood. Just knowing and having access and understanding of, how do our machines work given how prevalent they are in every aspect of our lives? Is crucial. Aside from all things tech, though, I think if you're, just to finish answering your question, a 17-year-old, starting out in the world, getting really good at managing and developing human relationships, paramount.
It's one of those things that I don't think has been taught well in school. A lot of people figure it out as they go. By human relationships, I mean everything from significant others to family, to friends, to colleagues. This whole idea of networking, I think is a cheap and transactional description. You have to network early in your career. Sure, but that just cheapens it and makes it sound like some financial transaction. Social capital, and relationships are what drives so much of the world, and it drives so much of what happiness means.
The depth of your relationships are the people in your life. Friends, colleagues, loved ones, et cetera, I've found one of the biggest determinants of happiness and fulfillment and meaning in your life. It's not something that's taught in school. It's not something that's taught in any sort of really structured way, and yet it's so vital, that it's one of the most important things for happiness, then we all need to get better, especially at an early age.
If we can get really good at that, at those skills, I think we'll be in a much better place as a society, to be leading happier and more fulfilled lives and feeling like there are less emptiness and loneliness. Especially as we spend more of our time on screens and more of our communication is intermediated through devices and screens. Again, it turns out people like to be around people. If you're good at that and if you can have those deep relationships, then you're just going to be a happier and more fulfilled person, especially in such a technologized age.
It's interesting that your advice is, first and foremost, understand how computers work, but both of your businesses are based on understanding how people work and require that real life experience. We talked about General Assembly. I want to talk about Daybreaker a little bit.
You've just got to explain what Daybreaker is for those people that are not lucky enough to live in one of the cities where they occur with great regularity.
Sure. General Assembly, I've been building that and focusing on GA for the last six years plus. A few years ago, about three years ago, as a side project, just as a total social experiment, a friend of mine and I decided, we'd just come back from Burning Man a month or two before. We were in New York, and we were thinking, "What if we could turn nightlife totally on its head?"
A lot of New York nightlife just didn't appeal to us, the mean bouncers and drugs and alcohol, self-destructive behavior, misogynistic behavior, women not feeling comfortable often, et cetera, et cetera , et cetera . At the same time, there's something extremely innate about humans coming together with music and community to dance. That's been happening around campfires for thousands of years. People, music dance, it's a very visceral human thing to do.
The only possibility for it happening in today's world in our urban centers is typically at skeezy nightclubs. What if you could break all of the rules and throw out all of the negative aspects of what traditional nightlife means, turn it on it's head? We thought, "Okay. Well, what would that be?" First of all, what if you could throw a dance party in the morning before work instead of at the end of the night to end your day? What if you did it to start your day? That makes sense. It's energetic. You're moving around.
It makes sense to me. I get the idea.
Then, we thought, "Okay. Well, if it's in the morning, instead of alcohol, we want to serve, because I'm not going to just drink before going to work, so we'll serve green juice, and we'll serve coffee and smoothies and tea." We'll have, not just DJs, we'll have live musicians blending and mixing in with the DJs. Maybe we'll have some artistic and theatrical performances, and we'll encourage people to dress up as crazily as they want and have this be a place for creativity and self-expression and openness.
Create this safe space where anything is possible but is completely guilt-free. You're not putting a single bad thing into your body. Then, you go to work, and you feel amazing. That was the original concept. We threw the first one in December of 2013. Again, as an experiment. We didn't have ambitions, "This is going to be all over the world." We just wanted to see what happens. We set ourselves, and we moved forward in a way that we said, "This might succeed, this might fail. We're going to throw one and see what happens."
Worst case, nobody shows up and we'll have woken up too early on a Wednesday. Big deal. We'll do something else, or we'll try some other idea. There's plenty of ideas. Our downside was limited. Best case, people love it, and we can do a lot more. We can spread it and make it more frequent and take it around the world. Amazingly enough, we've been able to do the latter. It's just been this incredible thing as we've grown. We haven't raised a dime of outside venture capital. Investors have approached us, but it's been totally bootstrapped and grown organically.
We have Daybreaker events happening in 16 cities around the world. Usually anywhere from 200 to 1,000 people between six to nine in the morning. The first hour is usually a yoga or a fitness experience. Then, from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, it's full-on, very energetic, very positive, completely drug and alcohol-free dance party meets immersive theater, meets cardio workout. It's a lot of fun. You can see more people smiling in a single room than I think I've ever encountered before.
That's not a bad way to start the day.
Yeah. It's not too bad.
There are videos of Daybreaker parties on YouTube. You can find them. I encourage people to do so, so that you can put visuals to the description. You did a very good job of that too. It's a fascinating business. I want to get to our final questions.
What technology trends concern you most about the future? What keeps you up at night?
I think two things. Number one, how much of our lives and our interactions with our fellow humans we have ceded to be intermediated through devices and platforms and technologies. If we spend all of our interactions between each other as connected solely through technological devices, I've seen this firsthand; you start to lose important things like etiquette and nuance of conversation and, again, depth of relationships.
If all human interactions are dumbed down to likes and re-tweets and hearts and little comments and acronyms, you're speaking like a child. Whereas, the richness of culture and the richness of society is through debate and conversation and depth. There's so much that humans have created when they've spoken and interacted and written without the simplification or-
Without emoticons. It's amazing how connected we are. I was just reading something that now a lot of the protest marches that are happening around the country now, things that can be coordinated now that used to take weeks, can now be coordinated in a matter of hours, which is amazing and incredible. It stills means, though, that we need to make sure that we don't give up our humanity and the subtlety and the nuance of interaction to retreating just behind our screens, or else we're all going to find ourselves connected but also really lonely.
Then, the second thing is, I think this is more recent, but the potential for cocooning ourselves into certain knowledge bubbles or certain belief bubbles. You see this on both sides of the isle. You see this with people consuming fake news and not realizing it's fake news and how prevalent and big of a deal fake news was. Which, nobody will realize that thing was such a prevalent problem and a big deal but is incepting falsities into society in mass and it's hard to understand how to fix it. Also, just seeing, again, through social media, you'll see repeats of the kinds of perspectives and beliefs that you already have.
You've seen it, through the election it hit both sides, where people just stopped ...
... following people that didn't agree with them.
Right. Our algorithms promote things that we agree with and that we're likely to click on. What that means, is if every person is this knowledge island where we're getting perfectly personalized streams of content that are fine-tuned just to what we will engage with most happily, it's like the machines are really controlling us. We're not controlling them. Taking back our right to our autonomy and saying, "We believe in knowledge. We believe in truth."
We have to come together and re-recognize that we need to have a collective understanding of truth. If we personalize all of our knowledge and all of our content for every single person, that that actually can lead us down a very dark road where we are further separated from each other. It makes it hard to come together around common, not just common beliefs and opinions, but common facts. We need a baseline of truth. On top of that, we should have opinions.
Yeah. It doesn't seem like too much to ask for. Let's leave that dark place. What are you optimistic about? What are you hopeful for?
Let's see. I am very excited about basically most everything that Elon Musk does.
Yeah. He's optimistic for all of us.
Yeah. I was just talking with someone today, and we were talking about how a lot of people think, "Elon Musk, you've got space, great. We'll figure out how to not to destroy the world, but Elon's got space, so we're covered."
Yeah. He's also going to go underground now. He's going to be tunneling underground.
He'll dominate that too.
Yeah. With all of his work in solar, with energy storage with his batteries, with Hyperloop, which they're now building out in LA, which was based on a white paper. He invented this thing on paper, and now they're building it in real life, to Space X, to Tesla. It's incredible to see truly forward-thinking technologies being built. Outside of that example, I love what's happening around new fabrication methods, new manufacturing methods that are allowing creatives and makers to take back tools of production.
The way that we can make things, from making furniture. There's a huge booming Brooklyn furniture design community. A lot of those makers and those design studios and those fabricators are using modern fabrication methods that are sustainable, that are using fairly-harvested wood, that are using fair labor practices. It's the kind of thing that would not have been possible, let's say, maybe ten years ago because of the kinds of tools and rapid prototyping and manufacturing methods hadn't been invented yet.
The fact that we can create products now with 3D printing, with new fabrication methods that are available to so many more people, it's very heartening, again, to see this re-enlivening of human creativity and human craftsmanship, which in some ways feels, "Oh, that was from the 40s and 50s. That was back when that was big." It's amazing to see craftsmanship becoming a thing, even in today's more digital world, that new forms of fabrication are possible and are happening and are available not just to large factories or huge companies but are becoming more available to everyone.
Cool. Regarding gadgets, services, what do you use every day that's changed your life that you love and every time you pick it up, you're like, "You know what? This is an amazing technological world that we're living in," if anything?
Yeah. Let's see. I think about the services I use most frequently. Lyft and Uber, they're amazing, of course. One of the things that I've been enjoying is not having a TV. I haven't had a TV, I think, since probably growing up or something. I have a high-definition projector at home. I just got an Amazon TV, Fire TV stick. It's been fun to explore. It's nice to when you want to engage with content and consume content, you can, but then you don't need to have a huge TV in your living room taking up space.
Yeah. I just read somebody explains the appeal of projectors in that way. When the TV's not on, it's just this giant piece of glass staring at you and taking up space in your apartment, or house. Where, the projector, it's there when you need it and when you're not there, you've got your room back. It's pretty incredible.
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Another piece that I have not used recently but it's somewhere in my closest , which I enjoyed, was a device called 3Doodler. It was a pen that was a 3D printing pen, and you actually could write in three dimensions.
Yeah. The plastic would cool as you ...
As you pulled it up.
... as you excreted it.
You could draw in space.
Yep. More of a fun thing than a practical thing. It's amazing, and I think it was a Kickstarter project. Again, just the ability now, to turn ideas into reality, even physical products, something like that, in such rapid form without a huge amount of capital and a huge factory that's all your own, is a pretty cool thing.
Yeah. That's a great place to stop.
Matt, thanks so much for coming in. How can people follow you, find out what you're doing? Obviously General Assembly, they can go to the website. How can they keep track of what you're up to?
Sure. I'm not on Twitter too much, but my Twitter account is @Brimer, B-R-I-M-E-R. I tend to past things publicly to Facebook, announcements, or events, or things that I'm up to, or articles, or whatnot. My Facebook handle is just @Brimer, also B-R-I-M-E-R. Those are probably the two main sources. Eventually, I'll have a book or something, but that'll be maybe a couple of years down the line.
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