The Maker Movement
Who can save the economy? Who can change the world?
The maker movement.
Who are the makers? In the Forbes article “Moving the Economy: The Future of the Maker Movement,” blogger TJ McCue identifies them: “The people who create, build, design, tinker, modify, hack, invent, or simply make something.” The definition of “maker” is also changing, he notes. Small businesses, startup entrepreneurs, inventors, craftspeople, can all be makers who embody “the spirit of DIY.” Awareness and appreciation of these people are growing, too.
What does this movement stand for? What do they do? (Besides make things).
According to Dale Dougherty, the founder of MAKE magazine and organizer of Maker Faire, and one of the luminaries of the movement, the makers are creating a new culture, a new way of looking at manufacturing, creativity, and ourselves.
Watch and listen to Dougherty discuss makers and what they do (that is, what we do) at the TED@Motor City Conference.
Dougherty was recently honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change” and spoke at the event. Alex Howard recaps some of Dougherty’s comments at the event and also interviews him for his article, “The maker movement’s potential for education, jobs and innovation is growing,” for O’Reilly Radar. Here are some key points for understanding the emerging maker movement, according to Dougherty:
- People are building “new forms of things” like robots and lighting “that are just in their heads.” Makers build what they build because they are passionate about it.
- “Tinkering,” once a central skill of middle class American culture that has now been marginalized, is central to the maker mentality.
- The software and technology communities are helping to change how we view manufacturing. “It’s about seeing manufacturing as a ‘creative enterprise,’ not something ‘where you’re told to do something but where you’re invited to solve a problem or figure things out.’”
- The idea of learning through making is not new, but this educational philosophy is pivotal to the maker movement and could transform our education system.
- The “DIY mindset” is essential for a democratic society in which participation and responsibility should be key values. The “DIY mindset” is also critical for fighting the idea that manufacturing is “dirty, dangerous, and disappearing” because manufacturing has been and can be again a source of middle class jobs.
- Four things the maker movement promotes that could influence government positively: openness; a willingness to take risks; creativity; and making as both a personal and public activity.
Many of Dougherty’s examples of “makers making” in the video and interview are new uses, or “hacks,” of high tech and software by “enthusiasts.” Traditional craftspeople like furniture makers and other artisans are somewhat less visible. While software and technology have certainly contributed to this rethink of manufacturing and this renewal of the spirit of creativity, custom artisanal production by craftspeople such as CustomMade artisans deserves its share of the maker movement spotlight, too. While the DIY mindset, tinkering, and creative problem solving may have become marginalized notions for many people, artisans have kept these values and skills alive at the heart of their work.
CustomMade is proud to promote the quality products and unique solutions our artisans create, one piece at a time, for their customers.
Custom makers, what are your thoughts on the maker movement? Please share your comments.