For the GitHub Archive Program Museum Cases, I wanted to create something that was aesthetically beautiful, and that paid homage to the spirit of open source software, and to the generations of science and engineering that open source software rests upon.

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The software and 3D printing tools I used to create the cases are close to the technical edges of what’s available today, and a lot of the symbolism reflects our species’ advances in engineering of the past hundred years — but underneath the artwork I sought to express stories that are old as time and that will still be true hundreds of years from now, even as the forms of our technology change. …

The Github Archive Program is meant to preserve software, and so it only makes sense that I would use A.I. in the process of creating the artwork for it.

I’ve been playing with A.I. artistically for years now. The following is as best of an account I can give of what the process is like, what’s new about it, and where I think it’s going.

Context, Philosophy, and an Imaginary Helicopter

As a lifelong student of human nature, I also treat the journey (as I do everything) as an invitation to observe the evolution in my own relationships with body, mind, spirit, and machines. …

It’s not every day that you get an email from a friend connecting you to a project that…honestly, sounds like something out of a James Bond movie. A vault, buried deep in a mountain on the Arctic Svalbard archipelago, housing a repository of humanity’s most important open source code, designed to last 1,000(!) years, potentially with artifacts representing the project in several major libraries around the world. They’re looking for an artist. You are an artist. What??

I would love to say that I jumped and hollered when I got that email —in actuality, it came out of the blue, and I had no idea whatsoever what I was looking at. I mostly stared at my laptop for awhile, with the expression that one has when one is humbly negotiating with a cup of coffee to help them make sense of what is on their screen. And thankfully, the part of me that lives for experiences on the edges of technical creativity (and some would argue, sense) became quite awake, and eventually responded, yes, I was definitely interested. …

Masculinity, meet flowers and eyeshadow
Masculinity, meet flowers and eyeshadow

I check a lot of masculine boxes. Sometimes to extremes.

I’ve almost died mountain climbing. I’ve successfully led extremely complicated engineering projects. I’ve started a company. I’ve pulled a four hundred pound deadlift. I’ve been lost in the woods alone and found my way out.

Rah. Me, man.

And about five or six years ago, at Burning Man, I discovered that I had a feminine side.

I had dressed in a ninja costume for the night, and one of my campmates had offered to draw a ninja eyeliner pattern on my face. I’d accepted it, in good fun, not thinking that much about it — and then later in the night, I looked in a mirror and was shocked to realize that I looked 🌺 feminine 🌺 as fuck. …

Based on a decade of experience navigating the corporate world, Burning Man, and San Francisco’s underground warehouse communities.

  1. Culture is a product of the container that you hold for your people.

Is the container you’re holding one in which well-being is valued? Is it a container in which there is safety and support to say things that need to be said?

Is it a container that feels nourishing and safe for women? Men? People of color? People of varying sexual orientations? Non-drinkers? Can your employees be themselves at work?

Is it a container in which egos and intimidation fly unchecked? …


Alex Maki-Jokela

Artist, Communityist, Systems Thinker, Multi-Competency Engineer

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