What makes a Maker?
The applications this year have been as diverse as ever – perhaps owing to the fact that we’ve been calling for ‘contributors’ rather than just ‘makers’. And the choice of language was an attempt to do just that – attract a range of people that might not identify (yet) with the ‘maker’ label and might instead think of themselves as artists, hobbyists, tinkerers, crafters, or just ‘kind of creative’.
So what makes a Maker? Our theory is that if you make something using your head, hands & heart, then HAZAA! – you’re a Maker! Simple right? Here’s three more Maker misconceptions busted:
1. Makers aren’t driven by a motivation to merely make things.
There’s enough crap in the world, and Makers aren’t interested in adding to it meaninglessly. They are driven by something a little more interesting. Perhaps a desire to learn a new skill, or to understand how a machine works, to realise a creative vision, to make something they want that they can’t find anywhere else, to solve a problem, to give grandma something different for Christmas this year, to make the thing that Grandma gave them for Christmas more awesome, or simply, to have a good time.
People make for all kinds of reasons, and if you put all these motivations into a beaker and distilled them down, what you might find is an openness to possibilities, an interest in actively participating in shaping our world, and perhaps even, a yearning for a more wonder-filled tomorrow. (Or to put it a little more succinctly, you’d get a solution of 100% Maker Spirit!)
2. Makers don’t make on their own.
Speaking of the Maker Spirit, collaboration is central to driving the strength and creativity of any maker community. Online and off, people are coming together to share resources and skills, co-create, and encourage each other along. In Toronto alone there are several mostly unknown makerspaces and creative organizations spread throughout the city, and on any given night you can attend a meetup to talk Web Dev, Wearables, Collage or The Internet of Things, to name a few.
Some make in silos, in garages and basements, but very few Makers get to their end product without a little help from their friends – whether it’s sage advice from fellow tinkerers, handiwork contributed by mates down at the makerspace, last minute input from a fellow team mate at a local hackathon, or inspiration from watching an instructional video recorded on the other side of the world. Openness & collaboration are king when it comes to making.
3. Makers don’t just use high-tech tools and materials.
Some people hesitate to call themselves makers because their creations don’t have flashy lights or robotic arms or aren’t connected to Twitter. Maybe the things they make don’t beep or whiz or have spinny parts. But the folks who crochet sculptures, fashion furniture from found objects or experiment with gastronomic baked goods are just as much Makers as the folks who design drones, tinker with wearables and 3D print machinery parts.
The Maker Movement overlaps significantly with the world of cutting edge technologies, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new and interesting (and awesome!) ways to use and combine older techniques, materials and ideas. It’s about the act of creation regardless of the medium – whether it’s electronics, code, wood, wool, cells or even glitter, makers bring something awesome into the world that wasn’t there before.
So where does that leave us?