Tim Bajarin @bajarin
May 19, 2014
I grew up in the age of Tinker Toys and Erector Sets. Both were meant to inspire me to be a maker instead of a consumer.
My first real tool was a wood-burning engraver that had such a short chord it was almost impossible to use. When I started using it, I burned myself more than once and nearly started a fire at the house. How in the world they sold this to kids in those days is now a mystery to me.
I was in Silicon Valley in the late 1970s, and I started to get more interested in the Homebrew Computer Club and similar user groups where people could get together and talk about tech-related interests. This was how I first got interested in computers.
Along the way, the idea of creating technology got sidelined as I instead started to write about it, chronicling its history. This led me to eventually become a computer research analyst instead of an engineer. This was probably a good thing, since I loved to take things apart but had very little interest in putting them back together. And I would have been a lousy programmer or tech designer. But this did allow me to watch the birth of the tech industry close up, witnessing how it developed and has impacted our world over the last 35 years.
Fast forward to today, and I am very excited about the Maker Movement. The more I look into it, the more I believe that it’s very important to America’s future. It has the potential to turn more and more people into makers instead of just consumers, and I know from history that when you give makers the right tools and inspiration, they have the potential to change the world.
So what is the Maker Movement? I found Adweek’s definition to be right on the money:
The maker movement, as we know, is the umbrella term for independent inventors, designers and tinkerers. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans, the niche is established enough to have its own magazine,Make, as well as hands-on Maker Faires that are catnip for DIYers who used to toil in solitude. Makers tap into an American admiration for self-reliance and combine that with open-source learning, contemporary design and powerful personal technology like 3-D printers. The creations, born in cluttered local workshops and bedroom offices, stir the imaginations of consumers numbed by generic, mass-produced, made-in–China merchandise.