Sunday, March 25, 2012

MAKE Magazine, the Maker Faire, and the Maker DIY Subculture

Beagle Board Multimedia Processor
Don't believe it when anyone tells you that Yankee ingenuity is dead... There is a growing subculture of creative people doing all sorts of homebrew tech projects, and it's spreading out from America to circle the globe. These folks have been dubbed "Makers" because they do hands-on crafting, construction, and fabrication of all sorts of gizmos and gadgets, mostly for fun, sometimes for profit. Some of the things they dream up and create are really useful, others are just cool fun.

The Maker movement has been driven to a large extent by the advent of open source software.  In a very real sense, I believe, the Maker movement is an outgrowth of the OSS community, and shares its spirit in the desire to share technology innovations at the grassroots level. In fact, there is a growing open source hardware community now. The Beagle Board multimedia processor board you see pictured here is a popular example of open source hardware. It is a very sophisticated, high-performance unit that can be used in all sorts of home-brewed audio, music, video, and wireless gizmos.

O'Reilly Media of Sebastopol, CA (otherwise well-known as home to the late, great cartoonist Charlie "Peanuts" Schultz) has taken a big leadership role in this movement through their quarterly publication, MAKE magazine, the MAKE website and blog, and the Maker Faire. They also have a lot of books that can help anyone get started as a maker... see our Amazon links below.

Makers aren't just about electronics and software, not by a long shot... maker projects seem to cover anything and everything under sun: automotive, robotics, rocketry, musical instruments, home remodeling, metals fabrication, affordable 3D printing... Go to this projects page at the MAKE website and see the categories in the upper right corner, there are currently 16 listed. 

The "Hennepin Crawler"
The Maker Faire is an annual event, or I should say, events, where hundreds of makers exhibit their work to thousands of attendees. For some years now there has been an annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA, just south of San Francisco, this May 19 & 20. This year the World Maker Faire will be held in Queens this Sept. 29 & 30. Additional Faires are being held in Detroit and Kansas City. Independent community-based "Mini-Maker Faires"  in other cities across the United States and in Europe, Egypt, Dubai, India, and others.

For kids, becoming a Do-It-Yourself maker can be a gateway to a career in science or engineering. If you or one of your kids wants to get a start as a Maker with electronic gizmos, a really great place to start is with the immensely popular Arduino board. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Real Time Analytics