Maker culture

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The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture[citation needed]. 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 a cut-and-paste approach to standardized hobbyist technologies, and encourages cookbook re-use of designs published on websites and maker-oriented publications.[1] There is a strong focus on using and learning practical skills and applying them to reference designs[citation needed].

Philosophical emphasis[edit]

Learning 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.

Some say that the maker movement is a reaction to the de-valuing of physical exploration and the growing sense of disconnection with the physical world in modern cities.[3] Other scholars including Raymond Malewitz and Charles Jencks have examined the Utopian vision of Maker culture, which they link to myths of rugged individualism, the possibility of a counterculture and libertarianism [4][5] Many products produced by the maker communities have a focus on health (food), sustainable development, environmentalism, local culture and can from that point of view also be seen as a anti-response on disposables, globalised mass production, the power of chain stores, multinationals and consumerism.

In reaction to the rise of maker culture, Barack Obama pledged to open several national research and development facilities to the public.[3]

The maker movement is a social movement with an artisan spirit in which the methods of digital fabrication—previously the exclusive domain of institutions—have become accessible at a personal scale, following a logical and economic progression similar to the transition from minicomputers to personal computers in the microcomputer revolution of the 1970s.[6] In 2005, Dale Dougherty launched Make magazine to serve the growing community, followed by the 2006 launch of Maker Faire.[7] The term, coined by Dougherty, grew into a full-fledged industry based on the growing number of DIYers who want to build something rather than buy it.

Spurred primarily by the advent of 3D printing for the fabrication of prototypes, declining cost and broad adoption have opened up new realms of innovation. As it has become cost effective to make just one item, this approach can be depicted as personal fabrication for "a market of one person".[6]

Who is a maker?[edit]

The community consists of a wide variety of interests and skill levels, from industry experts to garage tinkerers. For some it's a full-time job, while others are weekend warriors. The types of people who identify as makers is just as varied, from those who focus on home crafts, baking and preserving, to electronics experts to woodworkers, welders and LaRP weapons makers.

Hackerspaces and Fab Labs[edit]

Main articles: Hackerspace and Fablab

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.[8] Hackerspaces allow like-minded individuals to share ideas, tools, and skillsets.[9][10] Some notable hackerspaces which have been linked with the maker culture include Noisebridge, NYC Resistor, A2 Mech Shop, Pumping Station: One, Artisan's Asylum,[11] 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.[12] In Europe the popularity of the labs is more prominent than in the US, about three times more labs exist there.[13]

Outside Europe and the US, the maker culture is also on the rise, with several hacker or makerspaces being landmarks in their respective cities' entrepreneurial and educational landscape. More precisely: HackerspaceSG in Singapore has been setup by the team now leading the city-state (and, arguably, South-East Asia's) most prominent accelerator JFDI.Asia. Lamba Labs in Beirut is recognized as a hackerspace where people can collaborate freely, in a city often divided by its different ethnic and religious groups.[14] Xinjechian [15] in Shanghai is China's first hackerspace, which allows for innovation and collaboration in a country known for its strong internet censorship

With the rise of cities, which will host 60% of mankind by 2030, hackerspaces, fablabs and makerspaces will likely gain traction, as they are places for local entrepreneurs to gather and collaborate, providing local solutions to environmental, social or economical issues.[16] The Institute for the Future has launched in this regard Maker Cities, an "an open and collaborative online game, to generate ideas about how citizens are changing work, production, governance, learning, well-being, and their neighborhoods, and what this means for the future".[17]

Maker Segmentation[edit]

As tools and technology become increasingly affordable and accessible, and the business of making ecosystem more expansive, and new makers started to learn basic skills such as soldering and working with Arduino and other easy-to-program development platforms, makers began to segment into three distinct groups.[18] Dougherty identified them as zero-to-maker, maker-to-maker, and maker-to-market.

Zero to maker: Every maker has a different starting point. However, the common thread begins with an inspiration to invent, the spark that turns an individual from purely consuming products to having a hand in actually making them. To go from zero to maker, the two most important aspects are the ability to learn the requisite skills and access to the necessary means of production.

Maker to maker: The distinction in this stage is that makers begin to collaborate and access the expertise of others. At this stage, makers also contribute to existing platforms. Powerful undercurrents are at work, both from technological revolution as well as unleashing the innate desire for self-expression and creation. The desire to improve and share with others catalyzes the move to “maker to maker.”

Maker to market: From the workshops and the digital communities, a new wave of invention and innovation springs forth. Knowledge flows and concentrates. Some of the inventions and creations will appeal to a broader audience than the original makers. Some may even find commercial appeal. However, even if only a few makers pursue market opportunities, the impact may be huge.


Over the same time frame, makerspaces have started to spring up. Though desktop machines and inexpensive tools for the home have made many projects possible, some still require industrial equipment that’s not accessible to the typical maker. Makerspaces — TechShop is probably the best-known, with multiple locations around the U.S. — tend to be a community-based industrial space that operate on a membership plan, somewhat like a gym.


3D printers,[19] microcontrollers,[20] and drones[21] are just some of the tools that are helping grow the movement. They’re growing less expensive — in some cases, they’re already very reasonable — and getting smaller. Additive manufacturing, like 3D printing, and machining, like CNC milling and routing,[22] have moved to the desktop. Programmable microcontrollers like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black, and Intel’s Galileo and Edison controllers, are easy to program and enable connected devices. Combined with the cloud, they’re helping create the Internet of Things. The cloud itself is a tool in service of the maker movement, enabling increased collaboration, digital workflow, and distributed manufacturing (i.e., the download of files that translate directly into objects via a digitized manufacturing process). Meanwhile, the open-source movement, initially focused on software, has been expanding into hardware, assisted by easy access to online plans and licensing agreements.


Maker culture is present in musical scenes as well. Pioneering artist like Reed Ghazala, Michel Waisvisz developed a series of simple to built electronic circuitries for electronic music. Bart Hopkin published the magazine Experimental Musical Instruments for 15 years followed by a series of books about instrument building. A typical post 2000 phenomenon, based on the works of Ghazala, Waisvisz and others, are the electronic workshops wherein participants learn about circuit bending and how to solder electronic circuitries to make analog synthesizers or distortion stomp boxes. Many new small DIY companies such as Zvex, Death by Audio, Bleep Labs, Casper Electronics, etc. arrise in this field. Many of the people involved in those companies give the workshops at festivals and academies. Also the Cigar Box Guitar has a revival and workshops where those guitars are built are organised. Artists such as Nicolas Collins, Peter Kirn, Derek Holzer, Yuri Landman, Rob Hordijk as well as organisations such as STEIM, NK Gallery, WORM specialize their activities on building workshops besides their performance activities.


Typical types of maker culture in food production can be found in homebrewing, winemaking, sausage and pastry production.


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".[23]

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.[24][25] 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.[26][27][28][29] Maker Faire provides a Mini Maker Faire starter kit to encourage the spread of local Maker Faire events.[30]

Maker Film Fest[edit]

The annual Maker Film Fest, taking place at the Powerhouse Science Center in Durango, Colorado, features "Films About Makers, and Makers Making Movies." Those who have a maker film they'd like to have shown are encouraged to contact the Durango Maker Club.[31]

See also[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. ^ a b Noelle Swan. "The 'maker movement' creates D.I.Y. revolution". 2014.
  4. ^ Malewitz, R. (2014) "The Practice of Misuse". Stanford University Press. Retrieved 20 Oct 2014. 
  5. ^ Jencks, C. (1972) "Adhocism". MIT Press. Retrieved 20 Oct 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Neil, Gershenfeld (23 January 2015). Brockman, John, ed. "A Conversation with Neil Gershenfeld". Edge Foundation. Retrieved 16 February 2015. We can finally fix that boundary between art and artisans. 
  7. ^ Chris Anderson (May 2, 2013). "20 Years of Wired: Maker Movement". Wired magazine.
  8. ^ Justin Lahart (November 13, 2009). "Tinkering Makes Comeback Amidst Crisis". The Wall Street Journal. 
  9. ^ Kalish, Jon (November 21, 2010). "DIY 'Hackers' Tinker Everyday Things Into Treasure". NPR. 
  10. ^ Minsker, Evan (March 9, 2009). "Hacking Chicago — Pumping Station: One brings the hacker space movement to Chicago". The Columbia Chronicle. 
  11. ^ "Artisan's Asylum". Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  12. ^ "New student club inspired by maker subculture". Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Beirut’s new hackerspace nurtures invention ideas". November 1, 2012. 
  15. ^ "In China, Lessons of a 'Hackerspace'". 
  16. ^ "Makers in the City - How 11 makerspaces around the world grow communities and hack urban issues". 
  17. ^ "Maker Cities Play the game. Make the future of your city.". 
  18. ^ Deloitte Center for the Edge and Maker Media, Inc. (December 2013). Impact of the Maker Movement.
  19. ^ Ashlee Vance (September 13, 2010). "3-D Printing Spurs a Manufacturing Revolution". New York Times.
  20. ^ "Make 25: Microcontrollers and Arduino".
  21. ^ "DIY Drones".
  22. ^ "Maker Stuff"
  23. ^ Doctorow, Cory (October 28, 2009). "Makers, my new novel: free downloads, donate to libraries and colleges, signings and tours". Boing Boing. 
  24. ^ "More than just digital quilting". The Economist. December 3, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Maker Faire Bay Area 2012: Highlights and Headlines". On 3D Printing. May 20, 2012.
  26. ^ "East Bay Mini Maker Faire"
  27. ^ Ken Liebeskind (April 28, 2012). "Mini Maker Faire Brings Innovation to Westport". The Weston Daily Voice (Westport, Connecticut). 
  28. ^ Molly McGowan (May 1, 2012). "Burlington's first Mini Maker Faire a success". Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina). 
  29. ^ "Maker Meetup! Saturday July 14th 2012". The Reuseum. 2012-06-18. Retrieved 2013-08-13. 
  30. ^ "Mini Maker Faire Starter Kit"
  31. ^