Makers: isn’t it time to embrace and extend?
Yes, 3D printing and the Internet Of things are ‘turning everyone on to the idea of making stuff themselves’, but what about working together with the ‘old-school’ DIY, craft and hobby ‘makers’?
I was watching a somewhat old YouTube video and I thought to myself:
“Here’s a pursuit that almost certainly wouldn’t be considered to be a ‘Maker Movement’ thing, but it definitely should be”.
In this case, it doesn’t involve building anything from scratch. It doesn’t look like it amounts to being a ‘technological innovation story’, or being about a startup business project or about using or developing advanced new ‘solutions’.
Instead, it’s all about a project in a long established tradition, reusing old materials (although, as you’ll see, it quite understandably won’t be expecting very much green kudos for doing so) and established technologies to make something which has much that is both old and new about it.
But it’s just not something whose newness it its main feature, or even the primary reason for wanting to do it.
Nonetheless, it involves building something at home, involving renovation, redesign, the use of technologically advanced (but not exclusively up to the minute) tools: it’s exciting to watch, informative and insightful.
It involves a struggle to surmount genuine practical challenges, some of which are unforeseen and it reveals setbacks and mistakes (for instance the narrator manages to set accidentally their hair on fire) as well as triumphs and an unmistakeable sense of fun.
In other words, it has much about it which makes it a maker activity, yet also plenty of characteristics which make it unlikely to ever be covered as a maker story.
Have I got this wrong?
Does the maker movement in fact tend to have a more ‘inclusive attitude’ than I’m inferring?
I do know that many other assorted ‘non-maker’ activities make frequent appearances in maker stories where the current trendy technologies come together readily with traditional ones (putting fashion and textile design together with the latest sensor electronics being just about the most obvious example).
But what about stories where neither those involved nor the fruits of their labours involve any such hip collaborations or hybridisation?
The reason I’m interested is because even where it is patently obvious that ‘it’s a bit of a stretch’ for makers to dwell upon what might be considered a ‘non-maker story’ (as in the case below, with stock car racing-related ‘making’) there almost certainly has to be a benefit to all concerned.
Even if stock car “build ‘em and race ‘em” enthusiasts never find any reason or desire to work together with someone who considers themselves a card-carrying contemporary maker movement devotee, anyone watching this video will find exactly the same kind of inspiration that drives any other kind of maker.
It just so happens that the stock car enthusiast in this video is also probably the world’s most prominent maker.
She has single handedly pioneered the transformation of what is probably the most un-maker-like technology (fabrication of microchips, normally done in vast multi-billion dollar plants that look like NASA) into something you can do in your kitchen, together with literally hundreds of other DIY electronics projects, all recorded in YouTube videos.
So enough of this makerist and non-makerist segregation: let the non-self-designated makers and new generation makers unite!