DIY, that means do it yourself. I don't sit around waitin' for someone's help. I don't sit back and say "Good enough." I keep on striving, reinventing, keepin' it off the cuff. - The Beastie Boys, "The Scoop."
When I first heard Mike Diamond rap the above lyrics in 1994 I was incredibly excited about the implications of a movement where people were self-sufficient, motivated and productive. 20 years later and that ethos has grown beyond the music scene into a subculture that celebrates creation. Maker Media's Maker Faire brings these people together where they can share their innovations and explorations. Like most creative types, Makers spend their time chained to their workspace, unable to show off the cool things they're passionate about. But the Maker Faire allows them to get out of their basements and garages to showcase the fruits of their labor.
Last week, Maker Faire announced the winner of their "Maker Faire Design Challenge," where they received designs for this year's information kiosk at the event. The winner is Pierre Grande, who designed what he calls "The Ark." Grande designed the kiosk to be open for crowd flow, with large doors marked with arrows guiding the audience. He sees its purpose as managing the foot traffic for people requiring site map access. Frankly, it looks like a better mousetrap... but for humans. People are corralled in from both sides like cows through a slaughterhouse. But instead of raw carnage, they'll find simple pathfinding directions within.
It's a testament to the inclusivity of the maker movement that one of their own gets the opportunity to participate in the event's production. Like any fully formed fan culture, makers have their own ecosystem and the Maker Faire is where it all comes together as a physical manifestation. There are satellite locations in various cities that let these tinkerers come together and each one encourages people to drop in and learn in the group environment.
What's great about this is it can inspire and shepherd young students who are naturally curious, but put off by dry textbook learning. This encourages more novice makers to pursue knowledge and careers in science, technology, engineering and math (now being tagged with the acronym STEM). It encourages people to get back to the drawing board, where most of society's innovations are conceived.
The Bay Area Maker Faire where Grande's "Ark" debuts takes place on May 17 & 18 this year. This will be its eighth year, where thousands will learn new skills and discover the next wave of contraptions to capture the imagination of a generation of builders. It's often described as "part science fair, part county fair" and if the idea of devouring fried food while discovering gadgets and meeting the next Elon Musk doesn't appeal to you, you might be on the wrong blog. If you can't make it to San Mateo or the World Maker Faire in New York, there are still dozens of independent faires held around the United States. Find one, satiate your curiosity and keep it off the cuff.
- Desposito, Joe. "Maker Faire: A Breeding Ground For Future EEs and MEs." Electronic Design. Volume 60, Issue 13. 10/4/2012.
- Honey, Margaret and Siegel, Eric. "The Maker Movement." Education Week. Volume 30. Issue 19. 2/2/2011.
- Normal, Nick. "And the Winner of the Maker Faire Design Challenge is..." Make. 4/22/14. Accessed online 5/1/2014.
- Peckham, S. "Technically Speaking." Tech Directions. Volume 70, Issue 9. Page 4.
- Voight, Joan. "Meet Your Maker." AdWeek. Volume 55. Issue 11. 3/17/2014.