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Art Basel – Miami Beach

A few of us made it to Miami Beach this year for the hoopla that is Art Basel. It’s always nice to drop in occasionally to see what the art world is up to, and glean what it deems hot or not. Not surprisingly, vulgarity still reigns large. But as I’ve noted elsewhere, hyper-superficiality can provide a breath of fresh air: making snap judgments based on whether or not something simply looks good is comforting in the same way that spending a December weekend in 80 degree weather is comforting.

Art Basel is definitely the most glamourous of all the art fairs that set up tent in Miami Beach, but several others created a strong buzz. Nada Art Fair, the free fair that focuses on smaller, independently-run galleries, is the younger, hipper and more tech-savvy alternative to Art Basel. The art at Nada wasn’t exactly impressive, but their events were far more eventful and exciting than those being hosted at Art Basel. I was able meet the people who run Bad At Sports, a dynamic group of people who do podcasts on contemporary art and had built a makeshift hut inside the lobby of the hotel where Nada was staged.

Almost as entertaining as crashing private cocktail parties that weekend was watching Miami Beach return to normal after everyone packed up and returned to their own private corners of the globe. Minus the influx of well-heeled visitors and sensational party buzz, Miami Beach felt almost as drab as the mannequin pictured above—blank and confused after being disrobed of all the designer garb.

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Consent to Research and Sharing Your Health

We like to share. But what what does it mean to share data about our health?

All of us at Fabricatorz are well-practiced in the means and ways of sharing our creative output with everyone. Often this takes the form of selectively sharing certain rights to our creations, or even dedicating our work entirely to the public domain. We reason that our future interests (and yours!) are always better served by sharing what we do.

Sharing is one of the core principles that we wish to extend to greater aspects of our lives. However, there are certain domains of information where the legal and technological means of sharing are as yet ill-defined or non-existent.

One such domain concerns our health. Data about our health and genomics are the most intimate of personal details we can describe, and yet could prove to be the most useful thing we could ever choose to share about ourselves.

Anyone who has ever participated in a clinical study in the name of science has had to give consent to the researchers to use his or her data. However, there is as yet no easy way for that individual in the future to give any qualified researcher access to his or her data collected in the original study. This hampers your ability to share your own data, and consequently slows the progress of medical science itself.

A new project, Consent to Research, currently in a pilot phase, aims to remedy this problem by building a platform for gathering user-contributed data about health and genomics and sharing it with qualified research scientists. Consent to Research was conceived and is run by John Wilbanks.

Fabricatorz were contracted to build an alpha testing system as a proof of concept for the Consent to Research project (CtR). Our team has worked quickly and quietly to build and deploy CtR using Aiki Framework, and are proud to announce that the alpha site is live.

CtR Screenshot

If you’re interested in the future of open medical data science, or would just like to become an alpha tester, the new site is open and ready for testing at:

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PD+HVH are Beijing-based Architects


PD+HVH are architects Phil Dunn and Henri Van Hoeve, based in Beijing. We built their simple website, like a few other colleagues in the Beijing ecosystem, early-on because we already have been working together and support their efforts.

D:workprojectsunspacebasic plan-section Model (1)

Check out their blog, and consider hiring them for architecture and construction projects in China, and elsewhere in the world.

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You don’t know Phil Tinari? We built his website.

Ever since I first stepped foot into China, I started getting questions if I know person X or person Y. Phil Tinari is by far one of the most connected and smart people I know in China. He bridges the gap between art and criticism, English and Chinese, and has perceptively been launching career nukes for years. He is a true Fabricator.

Polit-Sheer-Form Office, "Only One Wall," 2005.

Polit-Sheer-Form Office, “Only One Wall,” 2005. (from an art review from Phil’s blog)

I first met Phil through friend Robin Peckham. Scenarios collided because Phil needed our skillz to crank out a simple site for his blogging activities. He didn’t want anything flashy, so people could focus on his writing and projects.

Cover, LEAP 1, February 2010. Shown: Huang Yong Ping, Sand Bank/Bank of Sand, 2000.

Cover, LEAP 1, February 2010. Shown: Huang Yong Ping, Sand Bank/Bank of Sand, 2000.

Since, we have helped Phil on some unreleased projects and with Modern Media on launching Leap Magazine, the first real critical art magazine from China. This is a major project that he took from idea, to complete execution. Now you can find it all throughout China and the world.

And, more recently, Phil has been brought on as the director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing. This has been announced in major press as an excellent strategic move by Tinari and UCCA.

Tinari is a heavy hitter. We look forward to more projects in the future with Mr. Tinari. Follow him on his twitter and blog.

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Samantha Culp Website, Locking Down Shanghai

I first worked with Samantha when she served as the Director of RMBCity for Vitamin Creative Space here in Beijing. Samantha, like myself, had lived in the South of China, but her Cantonese far surpassed mine!

She had been working on several interesting projects like her New Territories Border Studies Tumblr and Many Mansions film, and needed a simple simple site like some others we had built for Matt Hope and others. We cranked out her simple and clean design, connected with her domain name, and her blog has been flowing since. Check out her posts!

More recently Samantha is a talent scout at W+K in Shanghai:

Recently I became the “creative talent scout” for Wieden+Kennedy Shanghai – their first in this somewhat bizarre-sounding role, I believe. I’ll be helping to expand W+K’s network of emerging Chinese talent and pool of creative collaborators (with an emphasis on China, but also across Asia and internationally).

I’ll also be curating an events program in our office here, open to the Shanghai creative community at large, to bring in cross-disciplinary inspiration and strengthen W+K Shanghai as a local creative hub.

Follow Samantha on her blog.

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Our Incubated Company, Aiki Lab Supports Aiki Framework

A few years ago, we got swept up in a wave of projects in Singapore. A little prior, Bassel invented the Aiki Framework software for powering the heavily trafficked Open Clip Art Library which needed a fast database-backed engine that allowed for collaboration. Bassel and myself set out to make a company around this project, because we had some good offers of support in the Neoteny Singapore project by Joi Ito, and Christopher and I didn’t want Fabricatorz to become locked into one technology platform.

Aiki Lab HackerSpace logo (PT Sans)

While we do prefer to use Aiki Framework for web-based software, we push the development and holding of all Aiki projects over to the completely separate company, Aiki Lab. While this is mostly an on-paper different project right now, expect more from Aiki Lab in the future.

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Come Draw With Us: Open Clip Art Library 3.1 Released

Greetings, friendz,

Thank you for all the great art and thumbs up to everyone contributing to the Open Clip Art Library! The community is blossoming.

We’re very happy to report that over the last few weeks we’ve had a massive jump in users who give us a Facebook like, surpassing the 3,000 mark. We’d also really appreciate a follow on Twitter @openclipart or Google+.

Stylised Lighthouse Scenery

Regardless of what platform you choose you’ll be able to follow current news and uploads to the ever-expanding database of YOUR art how YOU want it. We can always use your help growing our library, and thank you again in advance for telling your peers! Let’s all keep the practice of sharing in the forefront of our minds.

Abstract Landscape
Abstract Landscape by Viscious-Speed (/user-detail/Viscious-Speed)

What’s particularly great about this Open Clip Art Library 3.1 release:

  • Our new favoriting system
  • A better landing page including more main page features and the most popular clipart.
    Collections have been improved
  • Our server has been moved to a big linode box, thanks to for supporting our development
  • We added imagebot image editing to each clipart page simpy click the “Edit Image” button on a Clip Art detail page.
  • Now you can set the resolution of the raster art you desire to download by entering a number into the white box on a Clip Art detail page and by pressing the orange [PNG] button. You can copy the link in that box and use it as HTML anywhere on the web.

As we look to the future, Open Clip Art Library is absolutely commited make it easier to upload, download, and share. Please participate in the development of the project today.

Please enjoy the Open Clip Art Library 3.1, and keep on sharing. Also, please consider donating to support the infrastructure which keeps our community running! We need your help to make the Open Clip Art Library the best public collection of Clip Art that “anyone may use for any purpose” in the world!

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Welcome to the New Era

The new Fabricatorz is here; and its about you! People are the core of our business and the service we provide. This starts from the root and extends outward to the relationships we build, the clients we serve, and the healthy process of matching results with expectations. Please do join us in welcoming the new Fabricatorz website. Its a medium for working together with you. We believe that in a world of 7 billion people, the best Fabricatorz have yet to be found. The 王 resides in each person. We work each day to make better relationships, better business, and services through the software we create, hardware we build, and the communities we grow. Hire us today. We will work together as Fabricatorz of the New Era.

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Aiki Framework 0.9.0 Released with Our New Installer

Along with Open Clip Art Library 3.1, we released Aiki Framework 0.9.0, “Infrastructure for the Future” release. Aiki Framework is a software invented by Bassel Safadi to power the Open Clip Art Library and other database heavy sites, that need collaboration on the web. Fabricatorz and Aiki Lab use this software where possible to solve client problems and to make the platform better so it becomes easier to make sites each time.

In this Aiki 0.9.0 release, we fixed 76 bugs and added 23 new features. The highlights of the release are a new installer, and lots of developer-centric infrastructure for the future: multi-languages, multi-views, multi-sites and more! Get it while it’s hot!

Aiki keeps getting better. Have you tried it? Join us! If you want a fast website that is scalable, hire us.

Check out the new installer below (a big thanks to rg1024 and jcubic for working so hard on this release too):

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Release Social Markiting

I really struggled with if I should delete all my social media accounts this fall. On December 1, I decided instead to just stop using cold turkey. I did it. I still feel great about it. It put me outside of my comfort zones and gave me some perspective on connecting with people, really.

id card

My final conclusion however is that I can’t have relationships online. Rather, my online persona @rejon is for social markiting. I drew the line, and now I’m ok with controlled posting again. Remember: you don’t want to end up crying on camera because you used your desire to emote to become a crazy person screaming into the air (real and virtually).

Use social markiting to your benefit, not to your failure.

Abstract Tree

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Visiting Saamlung in Hong Kong

In the early days of the New Year I travelled to Hong Kong to look in on our client and friend Robin Peckham, whose new gallery had just opened to not unexpected acclaim.

Saamlung manages to skirt both the geographical and curatorial boundaries of the established Hong Kong art scene. The space is perched on the top floor of a nondescript commercial building on Connaught Road (not far from the sightseeing Central galleries of Wyndham Street and Hollywood Road, but only if you discount the vertical dimension). At the same time, Saamlung’s curatorial program hews between the heavyweight international galleries that care nothing for the city’s local context, and the indigenous Hong Kong galleries that don’t care to escape it.

When I visited the gallery with Sophie this January, we were lucky to catch Charles LaBelle’s exhibition Corpus just before it closed. The work on display makes up part of Charles’s life-long Buildings Entered project, and depicts a series of drawings of buildings with religious significance, atop pages excised from a copy of George Bataille‘s Je suis coupable.

Up now at Saamlung is a group exhibition, featuring work by a new favorite of mine, Chen Chien-jung.

Finally, don’t miss this interview with Robin by CNN which gets it just right: Saamlung: showcasing Hong Kong’s best new art.

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Fabricatorz Through the Lens

As my friends and colleagues can attest I carry a camera with me everywhere I go. I shoot film exclusively using a couple of mechanical rangefinders, which offer me needed reprieve from my otherwise relentlessly digital work-and-life-flow (I have my friend Joi Ito to thank for turning me onto rangefinder photography).

Sometimes new acquaintances are flustered by the cameras and the number of exposures I make, but understand my aims once they see the results.

Jon Phillips
Jon Phillips, Beijing (2012)

Xiaowu Wang, Beijing (2012)

Isaac Mao
Isaac Mao, Beijing (2012)

Sophie Chiang
Sophie Chiang, Taipei (2011)

Bassel Safadi
Bassel Safadi, Seoul (2010)

Pete Ippel
Pete Ippel, Brussels (2010)

Matt Hope
Matt Hope, Beijing (2012)

Robin Peckham
Robin Peckham, Shanghai (2010)

Joi Ito
Joi Ito, Seoul (2010)

John Haltiwanger
John Haltiwanger, Amsterdam (2011)

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Sharism Workshop with !

The next Sharism Workshop will happen on this Saturday! We cooperate with to share the latest Fabricatorz news in Che Ku cafe.

We will share aiki, and updated fabricatorz site. Jon will bring Milkymist one for fun, too.

The link for entry is Since it’s a limited event, it’s closely opened for the participant. and

Looking forward meeting your guys for a sharing in a warm Saturday afternoon!

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Get Turned On By The Power Tower

Our friends at Fabien Fryns Fine Art have an exciting exhibition currently on display. The title of the show, “One Pinch of Heartache- Two Cups of Pain; One Dash of Sunshine- Two Drops of Rain”, is a bit emo, but the works included by artists Christian Tedeschi and Michael Bizon are far from a sad, lonely walk in the park.  Here’s a few pics of my favorites, which remind me a lot of Matt Hope‘s collosal speaker systems. These guys are taking over where Nam June Paik left off in interesting ways. Also, I have to say: the flyer for this show is one of the coolest I’ve seen in a while.

If you’re in the LA area anytime between now and March 17, be sure to check out the show and tell us what you think.

Christian Tedeschi and Michael Bizon, Power Tower

Christian Tedeschi and Michael Bizon, Man Behind Curtain

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Fabricustomz Sleeveless Kids T-Shirt Remix

Got an old T-Shirt you don’t like? Why not have us change it into a ground breaking FABRICUSTOMZ production.

With unprecedented serigraphy techniques, original sizing, unique styling, and re-purposed materials FABRICUSTOMZ will solve your fashion needs.

We are in process of creating an online store showcasing our present line of clothing. In addition, each piece can be uniquely tailored to fit your specifications.

Stay tuned!

Fabricustomz worn by Fabricatorz In Training
Holiday Cheer with Fabricustomz by Fabricatorz

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Wise Futures and Shared Hardware, Part I

Christopher Adams at TELDAP 2012

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to Academia Sinica in Taipei to address an audience of the Culturemondo forum on Smart Cultures, held alongside TELDAP and convened by Ilya Li. Ilya had asked me to prepare some remarks about open hardware culture, particularly as it relates to recent developments in Taiwan and China.

The Fabricatorz are often asked about “free and open” hardware. Jon shared his views on open hardware manufacturing during a talk he gave in Miami last December. It is not an idle topic for us, as we believe that investing in our own hardware platforms is just as important to the future of our business as is the software we create.

Copying hardware is hard to do —rms

Can Hardware be Free?

The term ‘open’ hardware is used by way of analogy to free and open source software. The freedoms of ‘free’ software comprise the right to use, study, duplicate and improve that software. These freedoms as they relate to hardware apply not to the physical device itself, but rather to its design; for it is only the hardware design that can be truly studied, duplicated, and, most important, improved.

However, a process which begins with a free hardware design and ends with a finished product requires a non-trivial provision of capital, resources, skill, and time. This plain fact leads the founder of the free software movment, Richard Stallman, to conclude that “freedom to copy hardware is not as important, because copying hardware is hard to do.”

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware—Alan Kay

I think the logic of that assessment is backward. The difficulty that hardware presents to our freedoms makes the issue more important, not less. It is the reason that we at Fabricatorz are investing time, money and talent to find solutions to the hardware dilemma. Recall the famous words of Alan Kay: “People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

Is Richard Stallman serious about software? I know we are.

Credits (images remixed by me on an M1):

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Ode To A G4: OG 2 New G

For the last decade I had done most my computing on a PowerBook G4. How is this possible? I really have no idea. But surely it has a lot to do with me being so damned dogged. Since this was the first computer I ever purchased, I assume I was determined to run it into the ground like a first car or girlfriend. ‘I don’t need your pointless updates or hyped gadgetry,’ went my thinking. ‘This hunk of metal will do just fine.’ And it did. It ran an entire ten years without any significant issues aside, of course, from slowing down relative to the rest of the world.

Around year six or so is when the embarrassment subsided and I started bragging about ‘The Little Engine That Could‘. I carried it with me around the globe, working with it in planes, cafes and hostels. (I even met a few die-hard PowerBooker’s along the way.) The G4 did me well. During its last years, when it could barely handle a handful of webpages at a time–lest the infamous rainbow ball started a spinnin’–it taught me a great deal of patience. (No, this isn’t a fable.) When everyone else was going coo-coo for youtube, I was forced to static websites, or, more often than not, reading an actual book.

Now that I’ve finally let her go–she actually went into a coma–I’ve transitioned not to the latest Apple device, but to a ThinkPad w/ Linux. I never thought this would happen, something about those last two pronouns always screamed TECHY/GEEKY in a way that is never SEXY. But this new setup with its minimal forms and simple functions is sexy in the same way that a manual transmission is always sexier than an automatic.

Here’s to another decade of simple, sexy computing.

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Making Dirt with Inkscape and Open Clip Art Library

dirt film simplifed

Its Friday and I want to make a fun post! Last night while working on a project with Christopher, I mentioned that we should add more dirt to some of our designz. He asked me how, so I made a quick HOWTO make dirt using our beloved Inkscape drawing software and then uploading the results, as scalable vector files to our project, Open Clip Art Library.

dirt bubbles on film

Check it out! If you like this post, please try to make your own dirt and upload to the Open Clip Art Library:

  1. Download image of dirt from a source like Google Image Search or Flickr.
  2. Download and use Inkscape, the free drawing tool!
  3. Import image in inkscape (I usually embed the image for now)
  4. Select Path > Trace Bitmap…
  5. Play with options (prefer simple black and white)
  6. Convert image to paths by clicking “OK”
  7. NOTE: At this point you will have some dirt. You may want to delete the image source material you imported now, or later.
  8. To create dirty type or make some shape dirrrty, then…
  9. Overlay shape or type on the dirt path.
  10. Then, play with path operations in the Inkscape Path menu like intersection, exclusion until you get a desirable result
  11. Have fun! Undo and Redo menu operations are your friend
  12. Upload your saved SVG (without the image in the file) to the Open Clip Art Library.

dirt bubbles detailed

Check out my growing collection in my Dirt Gallery (some of you who have known me for some time will get that KC comment ;).

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Open Font Library Provides Free Fonts For All, Developers and Stay-At-Home Dads Alike

San Francisco and Beijing, April 5, 2012 – Open Font Library, the online library of community-generated fonts that promotes font freedom and sharing, announces its latest version. Fabricatorz, a global open production company, relaunched Open Font Library in 2011 and have contributed to its ongoing development ever since. The latest iteration of the site features a fresh design by Manufactura Independente, a simple and elegant touch that better reflects the beauty of Open Font Library’s collection of quality typefaces.

The Open Font Library’s no-frills site allows guests to browse the entire catalogue, which at the time of writing boasts a collection of 116 font families, 168 releases (includes updated versions of font families) and 388 font files (total number of TrueType Font and OpenType Font files). Through a simple registration process, guests can then become members of Open Font Library where they are encouraged to share their own fonts or remix and download those already in the catalogue. Members also gain access to the Open Font Library community, a group dedicated to sharing type and promoting its creative iterations.

Fabricatorz developer Brad Phillips says the site has become more liberating with its latest release. “Getting fonts onto other sites is really easy now since every font page comes with @font-face tags—HTML and CSS example-code for easy embedding—so all members have to do is copy and paste the tags into their own websites and boom!—their sites have a new attractive typeface.”

The @font-face tag embedding process is another step in helping Open Font Library accelerate its growth and usefulness for type designers, developers and font enthusiasts. It also encourages others less familiar with the technicalities of fonts and their use in websites to experiment with this transparent plug-and-play process.

“We’re really hoping to get different types of people using the site, not just type geeks,” said Phillips. “I’m not exactly a type fanatic myself, but I’ve noticed my interest in the history and aesthetics of type grow just from using the site. Instead of “checking out” type like you would books in a traditional library, hanging out “in the stacks,” as it were, has been more educational for me. The Open Font Library community also plays an educational role; it’s helpful with learning more about fonts and open fonts in particular.”

All the fonts in the Open Font Library catalogue are licensed under free licenses, including the SIL Open Font License, Creative Commons Zero license, and GPLv3 with font exception license. Every font in the catalogue is freely downloadable, just as anyone is free to join and become a member.

About Open Font Library

The mission of the Open Font Library ( is to promote your freedom as it relates to fonts. All of the typefaces contained in the library are available under a free license, which gives you the freedom to use, study, remix and share each and every font. The site is powered by the Aiki Framework (, a powerful web framework for building network services using the AGPL license.

About Fabricatorz

Fabricatorz ( is an open global production company that makes successful projects from start to finish. We specialize in developing software using Aiki Framework (, hardware using Qi Hardware (, and community-building around the philosophies of Sharism (


For more information, please write, or visit

Press Contact

Spencer Young

+49 1573 7430013



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Wise Futures and Shared Hardware, Part II

Milkymist One

If I were to write an allegory of the computer manufacturing industry in “Greater China”, I might be tempted to call it Pingguo and Shanzhai.

Pingguo(蘋果)is the nickname by which Apple Computer is known in China. Its partner Foxconn (a Taiwanese company by the way) is the largest electronic component manufacturer in the world and the largest private employer in the PRC. Foxconn is the pinnacle of industrial scale electronics manufacturing in the Pearl River Delta (and, indeed, the world); and Apple would not be the Apple of today without Foxconn, and China.

Shanzhai(山寨)are the noble bandits of our little allegory: small-scale black market manufacturers who skirt regulations and quality control to produce affordable, relatively low yield, but surprisingly diverse electronics. (I should point out that these innovations were enabled by another Taiwanese company, Mediatek, which sells development kits that many Shanzhai products, such as mobile phones, are built on top of.)

Pinguo and Shanzhai are the well-known protagonists in the technological and social drama of the computer manufacturing industry that straddles the Taiwan Strait. But neither Pinguo nor Shanzhai tell the story of the kind of technology that I want in my life, or that I want to base my business on.

For me the real inspirational story is that of Qi Hardware. Qi Hardware is innovation built not at the cost of billions of dollars and legions of anonymous workers (Pingguo), nor at the cost of questionable legal and safety practices (Shanzhai). Rather, Qi Hardware is a collective dedicated to sharing knowledge, experience and technology, and represents the kind of wise future[1] I am looking to achieve.

Adam Wang

In discussing Qi Hardware I am constantly looking for a language to describe this new style of innovation. I am reluctant to call it ‘open’ hardware for reasons I have already explained; and calling it ‘copyleft’ hardware (in contrast to ‘copyright’) puts too much emphasis on the legal underpinning.

I finally settled on the term ‘shared’ hardware to describe what I feel captures the spirit of the movement. By sharing, Qi Hardware aim to lower barriers to innovation, as well as to profit and pump out genuinely cool technology!

Let’s keep telling this story.


[1] wise futures – I came by this term by listening to public talks by Rob van Kranenburg and Adam Greenfield in Taipei in February of this year. You can read Part I here.

The first photo in this post is of the Milkymist One, which I shot in my studio a couple of weeks ago. The second photo is of Adam Wang, when I visited him in Taipei, where he tests and assembles the Milkymist.

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