Maker culture

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The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture. Typical interests enjoyed by the maker culture include engineering-oriented pursuits such as electronics, robotics, 3-D printing, and the use of CNC tools, as well as more traditional activities such as metalworking, woodworking, and traditional arts and crafts. The subculture stresses new and unique applications of technologies, and encourages invention and prototyping.[1] There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them creatively.

Philosophical emphasis[edit]

'Maker culture' emphasizes learning-through-doing (constructivism) in a social environment. Maker culture emphasizes informal, networked, peer-led, and shared learning motivated by fun and self-fulfillment.[2] Maker culture encourages novel applications of technologies, and the exploration of intersections between traditionally separate domains and ways of working including metal-working, calligraphy, film making, and computer programming. Community interaction and knowledge sharing are often mediated through networked technologies, with websites and social media tools forming the basis of knowledge repositories and a central channel for information sharing and exchange of ideas, and focused through social meetings in shared spaces such as hackspaces. Maker culture has attracted the interest of educators concerned about students’ disengagement from STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in formal educational settings. Maker culture is seen as having the potential to contribute to a more participatory approach and create new pathways into topics that will make them more alive and relevant to learners.

Hackerspaces and Fab Labs[edit]

The rise of the maker culture is closely associated with the rise of hackerspaces, Fab Labs and other "maker spaces", of which there are now many around the world, including over 100 each in Germany and the United States.[3] Hackerspaces allow like-minded individuals to share ideas, tools, and skillsets.[4][5] Some notable hackerspaces which have been linked with the maker culture include Noisebridge, NYC Resistor, A2 Mech Shop, Pumping Station: One, Artisan's Asylum,[6] and TechShop. In addition, those who identify with the subculture can be found at more traditional universities with a technical orientation, such as MIT and Carnegie Mellon (specifically around "shop" areas like the MIT Hobby Shop and CMU Robotics Club). As maker culture becomes more popular, hackerspaces and Fab Labs are becoming more common in universities.[7]

Media[edit]

Some media outlets associated with the subculture include MAKE (a magazine published since 2005 by O'Reilly Media) and the popular weblog Boing Boing. Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow has written a novel, Makers, which he describes as being "a book about people who hack hardware, business-models, and living arrangements to discover ways of staying alive and happy even when the economy is falling down the toilet".[8]

Maker Faire[edit]

Since 2006 the subculture has held regular events around the world, Maker Faire, which in 2012 drew a crowd of 120,000 attendees.[9][10] Smaller, community driven Maker Faires referred to as Mini Maker Fairs are also held in various places where an O'Reilly-organised Maker Faire has not yet been held.[11][12][13][14] Maker Faire provides a Mini Maker Faire starter kit to encourage the spread of local Maker Faire events.[15]

Criticisms[edit]

A number of criticisms have been levelled against the claim that maker culture offers an innovative model of learning.

Everything old is new again[edit]

Hobbyists have made custom things for a long time. Evidence is in ham radio and RC modelling where very early innovation came from the garage, the shed or the loft. Similarly, the evolution of hobbies into for-profit businesses has a long history.

A famous example is in the relationship between the Homebrew Computer Club and Apple Inc., in which Steve Jobs became involved in the maker subculture through his early interest in Heathkit electronics kits. "The kits taught Steve Jobs that products were manifestations of human ingenuity, not magical objects dropped from the sky", writes a business author, who goes on to quote Jobs as saying "It gave a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment".[16]

Response to criticisms[edit]

Advocates of maker culture[who?] claim that a greater emphasis on some memes distinguishes the newer "Maker-Culture" from earlier hobbyist learning environments:

  • If it can be imagined it can be made.
  • The first step in making a thing, even a non-physical thing, is visualizing it.
... and computers can greatly aid that visualization, including sketching, drawing, simulation, analysis, and prototyping.
  • A most effective step in refining/developing a thing is collaborating with others on it.
... and Internet can greatly aid that collaboration
... and digital repositories are especially useful where data is used to directly reproduce objects and their derivatives.
  • Begin with the end in mind.
  • Making things always combines form with function.
  • The art of making should be appreciated and celebrated.

"Maker-Culture" re-brands pursuits and processes that extend into prehistory — making things and communicating how. That re-branding helps shift focus onto the new pursuits and processes enabled and reshaped by recent innovations: Internet, open-source memes and means, and the growing ubiquity of computing tools in smaller, faster, cheaper, more flexible forms.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas MacMillan (April 30, 2012). "On State Street, "Maker" Movement Arrives". New Haven Independent. 
  2. ^ "Maker Culture (chapter in Innovating Pedagogy 2013)". The Open University. Retrieved 2014-01-09. 
  3. ^ Justin Lahart (November 13, 2009). "Tinkering Makes Comeback Amidst Crisis". The Wall Street Journal. 
  4. ^ Kalish, Jon (November 21, 2010). "DIY 'Hackers' Tinker Everyday Things Into Treasure". NPR. 
  5. ^ Minsker, Evan (March 9, 2009). "Hacking Chicago — Pumping Station: One brings the hacker space movement to Chicago". The Columbia Chronicle. 
  6. ^ "Artisan's Asylum". Artisansasylum.com. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  7. ^ "New student club inspired by maker subculture". ics.uci.edu. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Doctorow, Cory (October 28, 2009). "Makers, my new novel: free downloads, donate to libraries and colleges, signings and tours". Boing Boing. 
  9. ^ "More than just digital quilting". The Economist. December 3, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Maker Faire Bay Area 2012: Highlights and Headlines". On 3D Printing. May 20, 2012.
  11. ^ "East Bay Mini Maker Faire"
  12. ^ Ken Liebeskind (April 28, 2012). "Mini Maker Faire Brings Innovation to Westport". The Weston Daily Voice (Westport, Connecticut). 
  13. ^ Molly McGowan (May 1, 2012). "Burlington's first Mini Maker Faire a success". Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina). 
  14. ^ "Maker Meetup! Saturday July 14th 2012". The Reuseum. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  15. ^ "Mini Maker Faire Starter Kit"
  16. ^ Leander Kahney (2008). Inside Steve's Brain. Portfolio. ISBN 978-1-59184-198-2. , p. 196. Leander cites an oral history audio recording by the Smithsonian Institution as his source for the quotation.