We’re all familiar with the dictionary definition of “to make” being “to bring into being by forming, shaping, or altering material.” All right, so to be more specific, when we talk about “Making,” we mean a broad variety of pursuits involving crafting, 3D design and printing, robotics, woodworking, knitting, electronics, soap-making, pickling, cheese-making, and the list goes on. It means a DIY attitude, curiosity, experimentation, invention, sharing and collaboration between amateurs, and, often, kludging.
Well people have been doing most of those things for decades if not centuries–so what’s new about Making, and why is there a Maker Movement?
What makes Making fresh are computers and the Internet. Computers aid in design like never before–you can model your woodworking or home construction projects in 3D software now, for instance–and in some fields, such as 3D printing and electronics, they are necessary. More broadly, though, the Internet connects enthusiasts from all over the world, allowing them to share designs, failures, and successes, as well as to collaborate. Need to learn how to do knit a diamond stitch? Just ask YouTube. Or maybe you’re an electronics hobbyist that needs a case for their new project–an online collaborator with 3D modeling and printing skills can help. Seemingly disparate fields come together: electronics schematics (with detailed how-to’s) are available, as are beer-brewing recipes, as are ways to control your beer-brewing with electronics.
These communities have become a subculture in their own right (there’s even a Wikipedia article, so it must be real, right?). In 2005, Make magazine began publication to cater to the Maker community, and since 2006 Maker Faires have been held around the world. Major companies such as Intel are creating products to support this movement, and lately it has also caught the attention of media outlets. The electronic tools involved in many of these hobbies are more affordable than ever, and learning about them is free, so it’s easy to get involved. For many Makers, though, these aren’t just hobbies–some sell their projects online, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills are valuable in many occupations and businesses.
Here in Baton Rouge, we’re ecstatic to be part of the scene, to celebrate Makers from near and far, and to get you interested in your next creative hobby. Our Mini Maker Faire is just five weeks from this Saturday!