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Creativty 50 2011: Limor Fried

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Limor Fried
Limor Fried

Move over, Martha. When it comes to DIY, Limor Fried is the queen. Alternately -- and often simultaneously -- described as an engineer, artist and hacker, Ms. Fried was pursuing a master's degree at MIT when she started publishing designs for her homemade consumer-electronics products (think an MP3 player encased in a mint tin) and amassing a following of folks who wanted to know: How can I do that?

Enter Adafruit, the DIY business that sells kits to create everything from a small battery-powered USB charger to the EggBot, an "open-source art robot that can draw on spherical or egg-shaped objects from the size of a ping-pong ball to that of a small grapefruit." While most traditional hardware makers go to great pains to protect their proprietary IP, Ms. Fried gives hers away and accompanies them with online tutorials. "The more it's shared, the better it gets," she said.

How do you define creativity?
I tend to think of creativity as the ability to inspire others to participate. For my business, electronics, I try to create projects that empower others to create and share art, science and engineering. When someone creates something based on something else, they're adding themselves in some way.

What are your thoughts on risk-taking?
I see risk-taking as a friend. All of the interesting things I've worked on seem completely obvious and reasonable now, but until I did them they seemed crazy. Without any risk, there really isn't reward for Adafruit or the community and customers.

What's the biggest creativity-killer?
Worrying about what others are doing. You could spend a lifetime thinking about what someone else is working on, or you can spend that time actually doing new and creative things.

What are you most inspired by?
Our customers, the open-source hardware community are incredibly inspiring. We're collectively changing the way people make and share electronics; it's exciting and daunting all at once.

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