Here’s what we’re reading/watching on Friday:
1) What does Defense Distributed’s “Liberator” mean for the future of 3D printing? Scientific American’s Larry Greenemeier interviewed Ryan Wicker to find out. Wicker is the director of the W.M. Keck Center for 3D Innovation at the University of Texas at El Paso. In the interview, Wicker makes the point that 3D printing is not the most significant part of the debate over DIY weapons. Wicker says the technology in and of itself isn’t what should inspire the greatest fear:
“3-D printing is not the only enabling technology here. 3-D printers may be a little less complicated to use than [some computer numerical control (CNC) systems that manufacturers use to make tools], but you still can buy a CNC machine today and use that to build weapons. In fact, I would be much more scared of people who have expertise in machine shops [making weapons] than I would of someone using a 3-D printer.”
2) We noticed two interesting posts commenting on women in action films — both real-life and animated. The first is from Forbes contributor Scott Mendelson, who argues that placing a bow and arrow in the hands of a female character or giving her a few minutes in an “Iron Man” suit does not a feminist icon make:
“Crafting a well-rounded female character in a mainstream picture is about more than just putting a weapon in their hand or giving them a patronizing ‘girl power punch’ during an action sequence or two. … When facets of society get caught [promoting] male-centric ideas that equate masculinity with violence, they generally get called on it in one forum or another. But should we also be taking a closer look at how we both promote the idea of empowerment-through-violence/action in terms of mainstream female characters in pop culture?
Then, on the flip side, there’s this analysis from Wired’s Laura Hudson, who writes that the role of women in “Iron Man 3” is evidence of a step forward in the portrayal of women in film:
“Want to see one of the more progressive portrayals of women in a blockbuster movie this year? Then go see Iron Man 3. As incongruous as it sounds, it’s true: director Shane Black and his co-writer, Drew Pearce, managed to turn women into the stealth stars of a superhero film by flipping the script on stereotypes about female characters and making them interesting, mature human beings who actuallydo things.”
Hudson tempers that sentiment, however, with the observation that “the saddest part of the depressingly exceptional women of Iron Man 3 is exactly how optional they are.”
Analysis of the nature of women in action films in the wake of the blockbuster third installment in the “Iron Man” series has been making the rounds, as Hudson and Mendelson both note. But we’d love to know your thoughts. What’s next for women in action films? Are we taking a step forward or a step back?
3) The Next Web has posted Robert Scoble’s address on the “bleeding edge” of technology. Scoble has received more than a little bit of attention for his review of Google Glass. But his address here is pretty interesting — a tour of cutting-edge technologies.
4) Sometimes it’s not about innovation, but about a perseverance of the human spirit. A woman has been pulled from the rubble 17 days after a building collapse in Bangladesh:
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) May 10, 2013
5) The Associated Press reports that there is a leak on the international space station, but NASA has said it does not pose a risk to the astronauts on board. Canadian astronaut and international space station commander Chris Hadfield has tweeted that a spacewalk is scheduled to fix the ammonia coolant leak on one of the space station’s solar arrays:
Good Morning, Earth! Big change in plans, spacewalk tomorrow, Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn are getting suits and airlock ready. Cool!
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) May 10, 2013
Oh, and before we go, we couldn’t resist sharing this from “The Tonight Show.” Isn’t technology grand?
Have a great weekend!