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Cory’s recent column, titled “If you can’t open government, you don’t own it”, didn’t agree with a reader. So he ripped out the page from the magazine, wrote his farewell message below and sent it to us in a nice, old-fashioned letter. Well, we opened it and now we own it.

UPDATE:
First off, we at MAKE want to sincerely apologize for offending and/or angering anybody and for creating the impression that we are insensitive to our readership. We do listen to what you have to say, and we take it to heart. I can’t speak for Dale (he does that himself below), but this was probably an impulsive, flabbergasted reaction to an aggressive act of frustrated self-expression, and as you can read below, Dale’s thought better of his part of it. We’ve decided to remove the scan of the letter from this post but it’s still available as a pop-up, for those coming late who are curious as to what all the fireworks were about.

In true maker fashion, it was one of the participants on this site who showed us a better way we could have played this. Commenter JC3 wrote:

Better Blog Entry

How the blog entry should have read to avoid all this:

“Although we’re always sorry to lose a subscriber, we appreciate the creative method this reader used to express his disapproval of Cory’s article. Here at MAKE we try to avoid politics as much as possible, but wanted to include some commentary on this recent historical election and what it might mean for makers everywhere. As always, we appreciate your criticisms both constructive and otherwise to make this magazine the best that it can be. We will frame this letter and hang it our office as a reminder to that end. Sincerely, the MAKE Staff.”

And, in response, Dale posted this apology:

Yes, I wish now that I had used your words instead of mine, which I will gladly eat. I wasn’t commenting on whether I agreed with the reader, but his decision to write us in a somewhat clever way about his displeasure with the article.

I apologize to those who are so offended. None of us wish to divide our audience along political lines. Whether you like President Obama or not, he was identifying the importance of the maker mindset, and in this issue, we tried to celebrate that mindset as part of the American can-do spirit and its importance to our future.

So thanks to JC3 and to everyone who participated in this discussion. We’ll definitely be mindful of the concerns and criticisms raised here and try to do better in the future.

And after we’re done eating the crow and cellulose, we hope to get back to the business of making cool stuff, something I think we can ALL agree on is why we’re here.

All the best,

Gareth Branwyn
For MAKE

Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


Related

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    who the heck is Cory and where is said article?

  2. DU says:

    It’s b.s. like that article that confirms that this is the first issue of the rest of my subscription!

    1. Mads says:

      In the article he is trying to tell about the importance of transparency and why you need to be able to take control and be able to join the debate. By overwriting the article with B.S. etc. The guy is doing exactly what Cory thinks he has the right to do. Participate in the debate – Freedom of speech.

      Therefore it becomes poetic. To Cory it becomes an contradicting artwork in itself. Which makes it worthy of hanging on the wall.

  3. Same here says:

    Make is such a waste, I’m sorry I ever subscribed. If ther is anything worth making it’s already out there and easy to find. They do like to feature lunatics though, people with more time/money than brains.

  4. The Oracle says:

    It’s the holier than that, screw you to the readers attitude that is being shown in this posting which alienates customers in droves and kills businesses such as Make.

    Sure not everyone will like every article and maybe Cory overreacted, but taking this and saying it will hang proudly on the wall comes off as disgustingly flippant…which was clearly the intention.

    1. someguy says:

      very well said @ the oracle

      personally, i read make to learn about making, not about politics.

    2. jason says:

      I’ve started reading MAKE with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Sure, I knew their political leanings, and I was more than willing to ignore them since their content was so good. But as soon as they start with the overtly political commentary, the magazine becomes something other than what it purports to be.

      I didn’t hate Cory’s article. In fact, I agree with many of the sentiments (how is an open govt. bad? It’s not!). I’m just … and here’s where I really hope the moderators and editors will pay attention… wary when the magazine starts to slip too much into the great divisive political issues. Let’s please keep it Maker friendly and not go into politics too much. You started out too good to devolve into another politicized magazine.

      Oh, and I echo what the commenter above said. Bragging that you’ve torqued off your readership really comes across as flippant and holier than thou.

      Just a thought.

      Jason

    3. Anonymous says:

      Please answer one question:

      why are you proud of this response?

      I’m sure your readers would be interested in your answer.

  5. Volkemon says:

    @anonymous…it is in the digital edition for us subscribers. Feel free to join!

    As a self proclaimed conservative I can see the point of the ‘letter’ writer…he/she is entitled to their opinion too. I disagree with their reaction, but then again it’s not my say now, is it?

    I realie that MAKE circles are populated with liberal nuts, AND OTHERS, and all are entitled to their say. I went and read the article in the digital edition, and recognize it as more of the usual pablum. Sure, it will thrill some, PO others, but realy doesn’t say much. Just repeats a few catch phrases, and one quote which matches MAKE, so deserves repetition in their pages.It is not gospel, nor is it garbage.

    Do I really think that there will be totally open gov’t under Pres. Obama? Hell no. Only a fool would. But remember- never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, be it liquid or ‘cyber ink’ to coin a term…And we (ME TOO) now have the ‘Americn Idol’ of presidents, with unlimited press.

    May OUR preident rule over a peaceful word, and do what is best for OUR country.

  6. Volkemon says:

    Darn…didn’t proofread…realiZe….

    Busy few minutes here in comments, eh!?!

  7. Colin K says:

    While I didn’t think the article was quite that egregious, I can sympathize with where the guy was coming from.

    Makers and making are one of those things that Red and Blue America both take part in, and the two parties have their share of both pro- and anti-maker policies and instincts.

    My main complaint with Make is that the content is often superficial and dilletantish. I want projects that introduce me to interesting designs, ideas, and construction techniques. I want that sort of content from people other than just Jake Von Slatt. Doctorow’s piece could have run in any of a hundred magazines without any changes, and that to me makes it a waste in a magazine as distinctive as Make.

  8. bloodyserb says:

    So you guys are so disenchanted with Make that you cruise the blog day and night waiting for a chance to strike? I don’t get it. Your time could be used so much more effectively telling everyone at Salon.com how wrong they are.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ok, this is kind of dumb on the part of all parties… Lets all go Make something…

  10. jasony says:

    I’ve started reading MAKE with a bit of a jaundiced eye. Sure, I knew their political leanings, and I was more than willing to ignore them since their content was so good. But as soon as they start with the overtly political commentary, the magazine becomes something other than what it purports to be.

    I didn’t hate Cory’s article. In fact, I agree with many of the sentiments (how is an open govt. bad? It’s not!). I’m just … and here’s where I really hope the moderators and editors will pay attention… wary when the magazine starts to slip too much into the great divisive political issues. Let’s please keep it Maker friendly and not go into politics too much. You started out too good to devolve into another politicized magazine.

    Oh, and I echo what the commenter above said. Bragging that you’ve torqued off your readership really comes across as flippant and holier than thou.

    Just a thought.

    Jason

  11. Anonymous says:

    An issue of Make…$15.

    Postage…42 cents.

    Cory Doctorow’s opinion…worthless.

  12. Laura says:

    Here is a link to Cory’s article in the digital edition of MAKE 18:

    http://www.make-digital.com/make/vol18/?pg=19&pm=1&u1=friend

  13. swild says:

    Why is make magazine proud of this? The reader was clearly unhappy.

    Maybe you have plenty of making sense, but very little in the way of good business…

  14. John says:

    I’m not sure this is such a good thing to post. Just because the letter writer expressed his opinion in a childish manner doesn’t mean you, as a commercial enterprise, should respond with an equally childish response. I highly suggest that you consider removing this post.

  15. J. Citizen says:

    Dear Make,
    If you don’t make this scrawled article available for sale as a framed print in the Make store before 30th May 2009, I will have no choice but to cancel my subscription.

  16. Gilberti says:

    …I rather liked this article in particular. Granted, it probably would not be a good idea to run such an article every issue (unless advancements in backyard rocketry and space colonization allowed us to make our own countries with working governments ).

    I think the point the fellows at MAKE are trying to make is that it is kinda stupid to stop buying a magazine you enjoy most of the time just because they ran one article you did not agree with or enjoy. It’s like buying fruit: you eat the good grapes off the bushel and throw out the ones that are starting to get fuzzy. Read the articles you like (hopefully most of them), and ignore the rest.

    1. Dale Dougherty says:

      Yes, Gilberti, I think your comment speaks to my reason for posting. Frankly, I’m surprised to see grown people getting so angry about an article, especially in Make.

      I’m glad to publish Cory because he’s been out on the cutting edge of a lot of developments that have shaped our world. Plus, he’s got a terrific new book coming out all about makers. Wait ’til you read it.

      I’ll be the first to admit that I’m thin-skinned when it comes to Make and I posted the letter in part because it had, to use Leon Uris’s phrase about Ireland, “a terrible beauty.”

      1. metis says:

        you are not addressing the *content* of the article in this. an article on DIY comdom making might be apt for make, but an editorial on family planning policy would not. just because an author who is a regular contributor to nature doesn’t mean they get an editorial on sterling engines in the journal.

        “I’m glad to publish Cory because he’s been out on the cutting edge of a lot of developments that have shaped our world. Plus, he’s got a terrific new book coming out all about makers. Wait ’til you read it.”

        shilling for cory’s book also does not help to explain your decision to either publish the article or explain the beauty of the response it generated (it is handsomely crafted if undercommunicative). it presents the appearance that you are more interested in making money and gaining attention than “making” things.

        now, granted the purpose of make mag is to produce income, however, when a publication strays from its core path in the name of sensationalism, without suitable explanation, it is failing in it’s job.

        please, actually rationally defend the decision to do publish both items, or take the high road, and learn from your mistake apologize to your readers.

  17. Gareth Branwyn says:

    It’s interesting that people think they know our political leanings. I don’t think you do. I’m pretty sure we have people at MAKE across the political spectrum. And we know our readers are. I don’t think we would have published this piece, or any other piece, if we thought it was overtly colored any political stripe. It’s about openness in government — Freedom of Information, something I thought all makers, whether conservative, libertarian, liberal, or none of the above, could get behind.

    1. Zero says:

      The thing about MAKE lately for me is that it isn’t really about making things. I wanted a mook filled with cool projects, schematics, ideas, tips, tricks, and hacks. Unfortunately it really isn’t about that anymore. What’s worse is everything in the magazine is basically available online anyway.

      To see this kind of reaction to reader feedback goes a little too far. I don’t want to read opinion pieces in an engineering magazine unless they are comparing Micro Controllers or tools or techniques. I hate that many of the recent editions are 90% filled with things like interviews of costume and prop makers with a rough overview of how to make something most people would understand just by looking at the finished product. On top of that stretched political articles? I don’t even live in America, what the fuck do I care about Obama perhaps being somewhat interested in the Maker community depending on how you interpret what he’s saying? Oh, and after that I can learn how to make a wooden raygun with gold model paint, a PVC pipe, and a chunk of a wooden pole! I feel like I’m 8 again!

      Please start MAKE-ing a magazine I’d like to read again. Junk part robots, kludge and hack circuits, mixed media code, that kind of stuff. Also, start respecting your customers a little more.

      1. rainy says:

        I’m glad it’s not just me; I’ve seen more and more articles that have a preachy lean rather than a “Hey cool, look what you can do with some wire and a milk jug” perspective. I want more “how tos” and less “we shoulds.” (Frankly I’m just slowly subscribing to all the feeds and blogs you guys read, that way I can weed out the nonsense you post.)

        Also, shame on you for being proud of an angry reader. Poor customer relations and even poorer customer relations for telling your online readership you’re happy you pissed someone off and lost a customer. This comes off exactly as “WE’RE RIGHT HE’S WRONG HA HA HA!”

      2. Nick says:

        (quote)I don’t want to read opinion pieces in an engineering magazine unless they are comparing Micro Controllers or tools or techniques. I hate that many of the recent editions are 90% filled with things like interviews of costume and prop makers with a rough overview of how to make something most people would understand just by looking at the finished product. On top of that stretched political articles? I don’t even live in America, what the fuck do I care about Obama perhaps being somewhat interested in the Maker community depending on how you interpret what he’s saying? Oh, and after that I can learn how to make a wooden raygun with gold model paint, a PVC pipe, and a chunk of a wooden pole! I feel like I’m 8 again!(quote)

        Oh this is so, so true! I don’t live in America, but it seems to me that half the projects in Make relate to either some San Fransisco steampunk-on-weird-bikes-with-LED-lights culture, or a live-off-the-grid-and-tell-everyone-how-superior-you-are culture. Neither of these translate well to my life, where I have more money than time and want projects I can enjoy building

        I’m a subscriber, but I just received my last issue and to be honest I’m probably not going to resubscribe. I love the idea of the magazine, and it’s a beautifully designed and joy to receive. And then I open it, read another “wooden raygun with gold model paint” article and get disappointed again.

        Here’s some ideas I’d find interesting:
        - Home audio projects. I don’t think MAKE has ever built a set of speakers, which seems like an obvious thing to do
        - Build your own computer case (and no, laser etching another Mac/iPod doesn’t count)
        - Sporting equipment. How about an article on how to build a carbon fibre bike frame/tennis racket/kayak

        (Oh, BTW, I’m probably well towards the “Nut” end of the liberal spectrum, and I didn’t read the column. If I want BoingBoing I’ll buy the BoingBoing magazine)

  18. Paco says:

    This was great. I loved it. I haven’t read the article and I don’t care if I agree with it or not. Posting this is not “holier-than-thou,” “arrogant,” or anything else that the far to serious commenters here are claiming. It just funny. What else are you going to do with hate mail? Let it erode yourself esteem and put it away in some drawer to break out sometime you are feeling fine? I don’t mind that the guy did that and why not respond to it in this manner?

    And as for the people saying to leave politics out of make? really? Do you realize what you just said? Do you even think that is possible? Everything is political and carries meaning. Especially a magazine entitled, “make.”

    I would have done the same thing.

  19. Au Reviour says:

    I’m sad to say that this post has caused me to make the decision to cancel my own subscription as well as to stop reading Make online altogether. As a resident of the Bay Area I’m also sad to say I’ll be missing the faire.

    Nice Job Dale. Way to alienate the community.

  20. Finn says:

    Yep, this display of arrogance and condescension marks the end of the road for me too. I won’t be renewing my subscription. Good luck with your flipping the finger at your readers thing.

  21. DougJ says:

    It is an interesting fact that for every person pissed off by actions like this, there is probably one person who says – Go for it – There are simply too many cretins with bizarre attitudes in the world! And – I am sure some will believe that I have a bad attitude.

    Anyway – As a result of seeing this very post, I am now off to subscribe to the Digital Edition – I have always liked this magazine, and the attitude of ‘just do it’
    :-)

  22. Tim Harris says:

    The most important thing to look at, I believe, is the reaction of CUSTOMERS. Many people in these comments have expressed humor, disgust, and ambivalence in regards to this post. Yes, there are people on the left right middle top and bottom who read make, however, I cannot disagree that as a conservative, I am tired of Bush bashing. Living in the bay area, I hear a lot of it because it is everywhere. This magazine is media, and media is known for having a left-leaning bias – this is not unknown. For the most part I have liked Make magazines line of simply throwing in random remarks, but nothing seriously offensive to anyone. It keeps things simple. However, Make is not a political magazine, and thus should not be running things like this often, even periodically. It is not used to identify with makers, but to fuel them. Identification comes from personal experience, Aka Maker Faire, or forums, or these comments. This post was pretty sad in that, Yes, it does have a sentiment to it. First, you are mocking the person publicly on a massively frequented website. Second, you have said nothing about questioning the person that wrote this as there may have been miscommunication (common with text). Do you not try to make amends, or do you simply write him off as a fool who does not need our magazine? If you do, then you have a holier than thou attitude. Will this make me not subscribe, no, I enjoy the magazine. However it disappoints me at the lack of professionalism that you guys have displayed. Mockery should not be tolerated, especially in an environment of experimentation as we makers are in.

  23. MrCrumley says:

    As a conservative, the article seemed kinda preachy to me. I think it would have been more interesting/ useful if multiple web addresses had been provided to help “open” our government (along with quick descriptions of how to effectively use them). Of course, then it would have stretched into more than just a 1-page, puff-piece.

    Also @ Gareth:
    I heard plenty of business spout that “across the political spectrum” line. You do realize it means more than simply having an intern and a random copywriter who voted for Ron Paul?

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      @MrCrumely
      Re: Cory’s article being kinda preachy
      Have you read any of Cory’s work in the past? He’s… kinda preachy.

      Re: You do realize it means more than simply having an intern and a random copywriter who voted for Ron Paul?

      That strikes me as rather preachy. And I can almost assure you that none of our interns, and no copywriter, voted for Ron Paul (altho honestly, overt politics is not something that gets discussed a lot in the office — at least not when I’m there, so I’m just guessing). But I do stand by my statement that we have diverse political views and there is certainly no MAKE party affiliation. I won’t say there’s no political agenda, in the sense that, as Paco says, ones actions are political, but our “politics” is about self-reliance, doing-it-yourself, encouraging life-long learning and exploration of the world, and other values that I’d like to think cut across political lines.

      1. hurf durf says:

        You tell ‘em!

        Wait! Obama said the word “Make!” BRB, fawning.

  24. asdfadsf says:

    It’s time to get rid of Cory Doctorow column.

    Of all the “hackers” and “makers” out there, he has clearly shown he doesn’t have a clue. Leave him to the Slashdot and Digg idiots, not people who work and think for a living.

    If he wants everything “open,” he can start with his wallet and stop telling us how to think.

  25. moog says:

    Hah, the reactions just make me want to subscribe to Make all the more. Watching the frothing lather form on the mouths of the savages gives me the giggles. I don’t even care that Doctorow can be a bit of a preachy windbag, having read a bit of his other stuff (but not the article in question, I fully admit).

    Should Make stop being what it is just because some tweakbucket with a sharpie flipped out?

  26. Chris says:

    Most of what Cory says make me shudder, however it isn’t enough to make me do anything other than flip the page past this column.

  27. dnny says:

    Is this how you deal whit you customer feedback? Shame on you.

    Make: was nice few yers ago… but now it seems too naive and too commercial.
    After Bre left it has been downhill.

    And now this example of customer relations.

    bye bye.

  28. Freznel says:

    As a frequent online reader I did not read the hard copy, but the digital version. I cannot understand how this article is worthy of being published in Make. Maybe I missed something, but isn’t the idea of Make to be creative and have great ideas? When you bring politics and a structure to creativity, you create the proverbial box that everyone tells you to think outside of. I am baffled that something like this article was expected to have no major backlash. The fact that website posted the comment by the reader just fuels a tiny flame that was a non-story. This was arrogant of Make and is a small indication to me that something is really wrong with this publication. While I will continue to read Make online and look at the great projects that are published, I will read them with an air of suspicion now that was not there before.

  29. Flemming Frandsen says:

    What’s the big problem with Corys article that’s so terrible that you have to devote time to unsubscribe and brag about it in these comments?

    The childish rant scribbled on the page does deserve to be hung, possibly with a little plaque saying “The customer is not always right, in fact some of them are very wrong”.

    Personally I found Corys article quite reasonable and not political at all, all he seems to say is that transparency is good.

    I have just signed up for a subscription, not because Cory wrote a wonderful piece, but just to offset the anti-freedom, anti-transparency nutters who have canceled their subscriptions.

    Make: You don’t have to become bland, faceless, focus-grouped mush to appease the insecure ninnies who cannot tolerate a single semi-political article.

    1. dnny says:

      This is not about the article anymore, it´s about how Make: deals whit there customers.

      And the unsubscribe bragging is a statement of the readers that don´t want to encourage to thins kind of posting… it´s kind of voting.
      If we just were whining in the comments “that its bad…” no one would take it seriously, but now after few unsubscriptions later, there might be some thinking in the Make: … And hopefully things will improve.

      1. Edidid says:

        It is also about Make not following their focus which is a plague of internet-era published media.

        Make is supposed to be about making things and directly related issues. If the author wanted to release that editorial then it should have been under a personal blog (or such) and not in the Make magazine itself. Putting it in the magazine and using that tag line exploited the subscription base for attention.

        People pay for Make to make things. People read political sources for political articles. You put a random Make style article in a political magazine and people will be just as unhappy.

  30. hockeyrink says:

    I read the article, and found it …fairly standard “BOY it’d be nice if the Government told us what they’re up to” kind of stuff.

    I don’t understand the reader’s distress. He _wants_ to be kept in the dark by his government? Or is it because he thinks its unfathomable that his government _should_ be under scrutiny?

    I don’t get it.

    As for “Proudly hanging this on the wall”, I don’t particularly see what there’s to be proud of, other than stirring up some reaction (which should be the job of media – no sense reading something that doesn’t motivate you in _some_ way).

  31. Ben Hutchings says:

    Come on ladies, look at yourselves getting all hot under the collar and joining in the ‘mass Make exodus of 2009′ – just because some guy got excited with a marker pen, and Dale found it ammusing (as I did too).

    This is like a ‘rent-a-mob’ of the blogging age. I swear if Marker-pen man stood on the street shouting “down with oxygen!”, at least 2 fools would start jeering along with him.

    Next time you (aimed at the rent-a-mob) hear someone on TV say something political you disagree with, I suggest you cancel your TV license, and send a copy of your license agreement back to your supplier emblazoned with marker pen.

    Wohoo! down with Make! Burn them! raaa… ok can we grow up now?

  32. Mr. Man says:

    The article is as ridiculous as the reaction. Cory comes off as an Obama admirer yet, look at what the TOTUS (Teleprompter of the United States) really is: a typical politician who lied like a rug to get elected and turns out to do whatever is expedient FOR HIM. His “transparency” in gubmint is just so much hot air beginning with his bailouts. Transparent? Who had time to read it (let alone had ACCESS to it) before it was passed into law? Nobody. Sorry, but the Same ole Same ole is in place in DC and MAKE apparently is buying into the Magic Kingdom.

    On another note, MAKE is already “looking back” at articles from only a few years ago? They already are running out of crap and much/most is crap. Recycling ideas that should never have seen the light of day is very lame. Much of the content is absolutely worthless – making Shiny Ponies when there is so much that could be done.

  33. Adam says:

    Why don’t you guys criticizing the copmlainers get off your pedastals for once?
    MAKE members are voicing an opinion that they feel is important. By dissmissing it as nothing you are doing the exact same thing as MAKE is doing to sharpie guy. Sure, maybe they expressed their opinion in a trite or immature way, but the last thing to do to an angry customer is to mock him.

  34. Mig says:

    I am not really sure why this was published in Make. Is this magazine not about making things? That is an article about transparecny in governement with NO LINK drawn to making things. None whatsoever. However I would not call it overtly political as it doesn’t follow any a particular ideology, rather some suggestions about good governance.

    I don’t find this kind of thing has any place in make, not that I disagree with it, but in the same way that I wouldn’t like to see an article about the finer points of the use of video technology in settling disputed refereeing decisions in soccer.

    I won’t cancel my subscription because I don’t have one and I only buy the odd issue anyway if it has stuff I want in it.

    In addition, I find Cory Doctorow a bit bombastic in some of his writing but that’s his style I guess.

    Can Gareth tell us why this was featured by the way?

  35. What says:

    In all honesty, when Make came out I was excited. It looked like an amazing magazine and a nice detour from the rampant consumerism and political shit that are soo common in the modern press. It was a nice detour, too. For the first few issues at least.

    I personally dont care at all about “remaking America”, sustainability, or being self-sufficient, I care about things like the CNC mill, or the garden controller. Things like “Making Trouble: Spending Carbon Wisely” or “Welcome: ReMake America” have no actual relevance to a magazine that started out with the goal of hacks, how-tos, and “adapting and integrating technology into our lives”. Why are you insisting on including it in the magazine? Surely it isnt for a lack of content…

    Make did not start out as a means to push a political ideology, but rather as a magazine for all those that appreciate people doing cool things with technology, people making interesting new things, or people adapting old technology to new purposes. It seems now that this goal has been lost by all those other than the readers who are passionate about these subjects.

    Anyways… I too am afraid that if the magazine does not get back to its original purpose I will have to find alternate means of indulging my tinkering cravings(like going back to Hack-a-Day or the other sites that actually cater to making).

  36. Anonymous says:

    I’m soooooooooo confused.

    Did this reader publish this in a public forum? Was it a private letter sent to Make? Is it Make’s policy to publish private correspondence? Or just cancellation letters for whatever reason?

  37. Eddie says:

    I’m confused – how can the Make editors have thought that an article about how politics “should be” done wouldn’t be inherently political?

    There seems to be a trend these days for magazines to be more political. New Scientist spends many column inches criticizing government reactions to global warming. The thing is, I can read political magazines if I want to read about politics, but I read New Scientist to learn about science.

    A good yardstick is, would I leave the magazine out for my children? If it contains overt political opinions in the guise of general interest articles, the answer is no. MAKE magazine is a magazine I should be able to leave out for my children. They’ll discover Blogistani politics soon enough on their own.

  38. jeff-o says:

    I read the article last night. I pondered it for a few moments before flipping the page, largely unaffected. Perhaps it didn’t bug me because I agree with what it said. I don’t like the idea of a government lying and keeping secrets from me, nor should anyone else. It was a political article in a mag devoted to making things. To me, making, remaking, fixing, and living sustainably are all ideas that go beyond a simple hobby. When I want to give someone an extra-special gift, I make it rather than buy it. Not because it’s cheaper (often it’s more expensive!) but because it means something. An open government is important, and it means something – these ideas go hand in hand. And that’s why I think this article is not out of place in MAKE.

    As for MAKE’s reaction to the Marker Man’s letter, by all means post it and allow it to be discussed. I’m not sure if it’s something to be proud of, though. Certainly it’s not worth canceling a subscription over.

    1. Anonymous says:

      All I can say is; posting this on the blog is Un-maker like and not to the standard that I have come to expect from Make.

      If PT was at here I bet he would say something like “Ok, leave this stuff for the other blogs”

  39. Michael says:

    I’m a liberal, without a doubt.

    I agree with the guy that used the marker to make a statement. It’s BS like that article that makes me want to unsubscribe from make. I was so disappointed when I saw the cover of this make magazine. I’ve felt disappointed with the last few issues. Make is becoming more of an interview/opinion magazine. I frankly don’t care about a makers opinion unless it’s about a tool, design, or construction technique. The best part of this issue was the toolbox section, frankly I skipped right over Cory’s article because I could tell it wasn’t about making anything. Content like that is exactly what is going to cause me to not re-subscribe, I subscribe to Make because I’m interested in making things, not leaning how Cory feels about government.

    Thanks

  40. Anonymous says:

    …because they said my comments were too political.

    Then this post about this cancellation letter.

    Yep – you guys are staying politically neutral alright…

    You can expect me to cancel my subscription soon.

  41. pd says:

    Political stuff like this is why i chose not to renew Make. I thought Make would be like this website, about everyday people making stuff and cutting the dependency on others and our government. I was sadly disappointed at the hidden agenda and felt like it was wasted money. I love the blog when it is about making stuff, keep up the good work.

  42. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure but are there any advertisers that support Make:? A canceled sub here and there means little to nothing, BUT a letter to their advertisers, the infrastructure paying the bills now that would MAKE a statement.

  43. Anonymous says:

    Man, conservatives are whiny cry-baby’s

  44. Jordan says:

    I’ve been a subscriber since Issue 5 or so, and have been reading the blog since before then.

    Lately I had been thinking about cancelling my subscription because I don’t have as much time as I would like, and saving some cash is always nice.

    After seeing this, I’m wondering if there’s a lifetime subscription option that I can sign up for.

    I have immense respect for Make for backing up their editorial writers and not being afraid of pissing people off.

    To me Make has always been more than just the “How-To”, it’s also the “Why?”

    Because it’s there, Because I can, Because I won’t be told how , or what I can and can not do with any thing.

  45. Gizmo says:

    I’m not canceling my subscription. Nor am I going to let my subscription just “run out”. I’ll be a subscriber until the end. Which I think is coming soon.

    Frankly I think Make will “run out” on me before I run out on it. I was very impressed by the first issues of the magazine. They were “all make, all the time”. But recent issues have had more filler than I care for. Fewer articles heavy on “do” compared to the early issues. In fact NOTHING inspired me in issue #18. I paged through it and stuck it on the shelf.

    I can easily overlook a little the political fodder sprinkled in the pages. When it grows to be a lot – when it dominates the page – then Make gets shelved unread.

    As far as a flippant attitude toward subscribers? How does O’Reilly feel about that? How does the bottom line look if you do that?

    How is sales at the maker store? I have a feeling that they are not good because every day a store product is “featured” on this blog. Not anything MADE with your product, but just a sales ad for the store.

    So I assume income from the store is down, readership has likely waned. The make blog is filled with fewer things of interest.

    Make needs to be remade.

  46. Anonymous says:

    “It will hang proudly on our office wall!”
    good going MAKE! you celebrate that loss of a customer.

    as for me, ive been checking out the site daily for about a year and its been going down hill. i wont be a subscriber at any point, if i wanted to see a crazy guy build something out of PVC id give a legless hobo some pipe and glue.

    1. bill says:

      What building material would you recommend?

      There are lots of other materials (with different properties) that would probably be compatible with your typical PVC build. You could try aluminum, copper, or maybe stainless steel. Be aware that the project might cost a bit more in cash and time, and you might need special tools and a dedicated workspace for the build.

  47. mike says:

    I agree that this article shouldn’t have been in MAKE – in fact, when I first received my copy of the issue in the mail, I read the first paragraph of this article, groaned, and flipped past it. My main issues with the article are:

    1. The new “open government” sounds great in theory, but you need to treat it with a healthy dose of skepticism. He’s barely been in office that long – let’s see what actually unfolds before we end up getting our hopes up only to have promises broken. The enthusiasm in this article comes across as pure naivete.

    2. I think of the MAKE spirit as being more aligned with a detachment from reliance on government, corporations, or any entity other than the individual and the community. The fact that the government is more “open” does not necessarily mean it’s inviting me to rally to their cause, or that I would even want to.

    3. The article obviously would fit much better in the context of boingboing.net than the print issue of MAKE – this was a wasted opportunity to provide more relevant content instead. Cory has another forum better suited to this kind of thing, and thats where it belongs.

    That being said, this is definitely nothing to cancel a subscription over, and I’m surprised it caused so much debate – the rest of the issue was great as usual :)

  48. Tim says:

    Makers do not operate in a vacuum. We are directly affected by legal and political powers.

    We’re the ones who can’t watch the DVDs we bought from Amazon because the DMCA says our homebrew DVD players are illegal. We’re the ones whose model rockets languish under broad catch-all explosives rules. We’re the ones who get hauled off by the authorities for displaying our self-built Lite Brite-style illuminated signs.

    Remember that shirt, “I void warranties”? That’s a pretty strong political statement with which (I’d bet) 95% of Make’s readership agrees. It means we own what we pay for, and we don’t accept restrictions that prevent us from responsibly using our devices–our world–in new, unforeseen ways.

    I think that’s the philosophy to which this article was trying to speak. It may have been a bit muddled, and it may not have been 100% tailored to our community, but I love seeing an idea from one industry applied to another. It’s like applying origami techniques to engineering problems. The task of improving the world around us (from iPods to government) is infinitely easier in an information-rich environment, which is exactly what government transparency is all about.

  49. Anonymous says:

    (1) If you like Make, buy it and read it.

    (2) If you don’t like Make, you’d be ill advised to continue buying and reading it.

    (3) If you have a lot to say about what should and/or should not be in a magazine, you might like to consider starting one of your own.

    (4) That is all.

    1. Anonymous says:

      So don’t provide Make any reader feedback?

      I would think that they _want_ reader feed back, but this action proves that they mock their feedback.

      I’m puzzled, honestly. This is biting the hand that feeds you. It reflects poorly on Make and O’Reilly.

  50. pd says:

    It’s not important that we agree or disagree with the article. The question is what is the purpose of a magazine with the title MAKE. It should not be a political platform. Reader feedback can be positive or negative. If the magazine has no substance, purpose, or focus then it will be driven only by feedback. Feedback of the masses generally leads to what makes people angry, upset, or provides a stimulating conversation. Much of the down fall of Howard Stern. Once again, I ask the question what is the purpose of a magazine with the title MAKE.

  51. yep says:

    I’ve recently looked over the early issues and it was much more about “making” than it has lately. I’ve also noted how when someone says something critical on the comments it is scorned or dismissed (rat throwies? really?) Why not assume that someone might have a point and try to see their point of view?

    How is this posting a “Make” it just seems to be “we don’t care what you think”. Go ahead, frame it and put it on the wall, send it out as a x-mas card, have it tattoo’d on your hiney, why post it? Seems to me that most are here reading to see “Make” not “let’s make fun of our readership”.

    I do read the blog multiple times a day, but find myself less and less inspired by the mag.

  52. Wayne says:

    Blah blah. All the right-wing-nuts have migrated from the WaPo forums to Make. More sour grapes. Go away…go far, far away.

  53. Anonymous says:

    A few angry words scribbled on a torn out magazine page hardly constitute normal “customer feedback”.

    Having said that, I do think that publishing the “letter” on the website is an infringment on the copyright of the Sharpie Man – unless he open-sourced his work of course.

    1. Anonymous says:

      At the very least it is in poor taste and reflects negatively on the Make editorial staff. The staff has the right to mock their past customers as they see fit, apparently. It isn’t mature behavior as far as I’m concerned.

      Angry posts here about dropping subscriptions also reflects poorly on the poster. But they have that same right, then, don’t they?

      Dropped subscriptions means less income for Make. Less income means less content. Everyone suffers if/as the magazine changes to include more political prose than “make” content.

  54. metis says:

    It would seem that you are not aware of the massive amounts of government secrecy extended by the Bush administration, and lauded by a host of “conservatives”. While you and I may agree that a fishbowl government is a generally good thing, that does not mean it crosses all political stripes. Claiming that you follow employment law and not discriminate in hiring is a straw man defense. Not every employee must agree, or should they in every decision in most healthy organizations, however this has no bearing on if it was an apt decision to run the piece.

    There are many ways to skin a cat or build and LED bike light, none of which are wrong per se, even letting the blue smoke out teaches us something.

    Instead of learning that overtly political opinion pieces may offend some readers in a technical publication, it would seem that the editorial staff has little regard for the opinions of their readers, who are their customers. Disregarding the opinions of others appears arrogant, and condescending.

    Personally I think that hanging up the page is appropriate, but NOT from a this is humorous standpoint. It should be a reminder that you WILL offend some people when you start to stray from the stated technical intent of your magazine and into opinion pieces, and while that will net a few readers and cost a few, it is not what you claim to be about. Publishing things that are off topic will cost you readers who are makers, irrelevant of the content.

    Running this both piece and then this response showed the editorial staff to not be doing their jobs, and rather than learn from it, they chose to celebrate their juvenalia.

    I will not be canceling my subscription, although I would appreciate it if the magazine went back toward technical work than opinion, and your billing and mailing departments finally got my subscription sorted out.

  55. DJFelix says:

    I read this dribble in the latest issue, and had chosen to ignore it. I guess I just can’t now.

    I will also be canceling my subscription. Make has devolved from a great engineering magazine to a liberal propaganda machine. It started off with “green technology” and has devolved into extreme left-wing politics and eco brainwashing. (Humanure? Really?)

    I’m done.

    1. Maureen says:

      I was a former print Craft subscriber who decided to try out Make instead of receiving a refund.

      I won’t be continuing this subscription. I’d like to say this incident did it, but you had me at Humanure. (Seriously, WTF Make?)

  56. Anonymous says:

    Might the letter hang proudly on Make’s wall as an example of creatively repurposing & reusing a page from the mag? Maybe all this noise about politics is misdirected?

    On a side note, I sort of wish the green movement hadn’t been pinned onto one “side” of red vs. blue when it’s really something nobody should be against.

  57. wavering subscriber says:

    …..metis on May 14, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    …….”Instead of learning that overtly political opinion pieces may offend some readers in a technical publication, it would seem that the editorial staff has little regard for the opinions of their readers, who are their customers. Disregarding the opinions of others appears arrogant, and condescending.

    Personally I think that hanging up the page is appropriate, but NOT from a this is humorous standpoint. It should be a reminder that you WILL offend some people when you start to stray from the stated technical intent of your magazine and into opinion pieces, and while that will net a few readers and cost a few, it is not what you claim to be about. Publishing things that are off topic will cost you readers who are makers, irrelevant of the content.”……

    I think that hanging up the page is appropriate also, to be used as a constant reminder that the original charter was to keep politics out of MAKE and what happens when you stray away from that ideal.

    I have been getting more and more dis-enchanted by the slow politicizing of the content. I want my MAKE back.

    If you want to stay “green” don’t publish rubish and waste good paper on such junk. As previously stated liberals and conservatives alike can get their politico fix on some other web site.

    Put me down as closer to being a former subscriber if I continue to see such juvenile reactions from MAKE staff.

  58. Me says:

    That’s too bad. I think this sort of thing can only bring out the political trolls/flames so common on the internet.

    I don’t think Cory Doctorow’s article had much to offer. That is not surprising as Cory’s main goal in life seems to be to promote Cory Doctorow.

  59. Rhett Aultman says:

    Wow, Make. What an amazing customer relations failure you just whipped up. It’s like I’m reading a blogger who doesn’t know he’s wandered off into troll-land and now thinks that being egotistical will get him out of it.

    Let’s review. The first problem here was writing an article that few, if any, of your usual writers (and few, if any, of your invited writers) are qualified to speak about. While people within the open source community like to fancy themselves talented at social commentary, they generally are not, and the published article was no exception. Like a tech blogger who takes a one-post foray into commenting on feminism, you put your hand in the beehive. Looking for honey, you found bees.

    Incidentally, this isn’t the first time you’ve done this. My wife and I had a chuckle over a Make article about the history of Freemasonry, which contained factual errors, something my wife, an internationally-recognized scholar on Masonic history, was quick to note.

    The next step is, of course, to miss the opportunity to apologize and realize your magazine spoke about something that was both off-topic and also outside its circle of expertise. Your magazine is essentially about engineering, not public policy. But, like the blogger-troll, you’ve decided it’s more important to defend yourselves even if you’re in the wrong. Like the blogger-troll who thinks that he’ll become right by continuing to argue his point, you’ve decided to drag up the controversy over on the Make blog.

    Finally, to complete the trifecta, you’re holding up others’ frustration and outrage as a sign of your own success. You did something controversial that alienated a reader. What’s your solution? It’s certainly not to handle it quietly. You’re going to show off your failure to the world on your blog and also explain how you’re so proud of yourself that you’re hanging proof of your audience’s alienation on the wall. You may think all of this is proof that you’re doing something right; plenty of people see it as the self-rationalizing behavior of someone (or some people, in the editorial group’s case) who is letting ego get in the way of maturity.

    This might fly over at some so-and-so’s blog, but this is Make, and I sincerely expected better from you. Make is a periodical, following the same business models that are barely keeping the print industry alive. At a time when you should be building consensus and community, you’re putting your own opinions about yourself first.

    I’ll remain a subscriber, but I am very disappointed. I hope you’ll listen to me and others who have made similar level-headed critiques of your behavior.

    Incidentally, your OpenID auth system seems to be broken for my OpenID provider (LiveJournal).

  60. bloodyserb says:

    I just ran out to get the new issue and see what all the fuss was about. Seriously? That’s it? Did any of you even read the article, or did Bill O’Reilly call Cory Doctorow a pinhead on his show last night and tell everyone to turf the blog? If any of you really are subscribers Make would be better off without you. I’ve been buying Make since issue #2 and I see no reason to stop now.

  61. Lucky says:

    I love how many people assumed Sharpie-man is a conservative, and have started talking about whiny conservatives, while the conservatives are complaining about liberals.

    You peoples is funny.

    See, I see a writer who’s angry his magazine wasted space on writing which did not make him any smarter. It’s a “B.S.” article. Remember college, where we’d write 500 words about a two sentence concept? We called it “B.S.-ing”?

    I read Make because I want to know how to MAKE cool stuff. There is still a lot of stuff out there waiting for some clever person to figure out how to make it and then share that knowledge with us. I don’t want valuable page space wasted on fluff. Just tell me how to build a damn taffy-puller.

  62. Josh says:

    I didn’t care about the article, I’ll echo the other comments in that I skimmed it, saw it wasn’t about making anything and turned the page. This blog post however was completely unprofessional.

    My subscription was a gift I asked for so I’m not going to hurt the person who gave it to me by “returning it.” But I definitely will not be renewing or buying anything from Make’s advertisers.

  63. metis says:

    *net* less 6 subscribers out of 76 comments, many in part due to Dale’s response as much as the original article.

    now granted those of us who follow the blog are probably more active and interested, but is it really a good idea to produce a 3/4% drop in subscribers out of ANY pool from one set of actions much less one with as weak a defense thus far of we hire interns who don’t but could vote for ron paul, and the makers movement is about improving things, and we should improve our world?

    if the editorial staff wants to press a political agenda, there are other periodicals more apt, or they could do it via rational, constructive argument (why sustainable consumption is better than throw away, but bad for obtanium)

    admit a mistake, and people usually forgive you. defend a bad decision, and it rarely comes out well.

    1. Anonymous says:

      “…defense thus far of … the makers movement is about improving things, and we should improve our world? if the editorial staff wants to press a political agenda…”

      I think the point of that argument was:

      a) that the article’s angle was not as unrelated to Make’s mission as a lot of people seem to think, and
      b) that making stuff often gets political, so it makes sense to pay attention when someone in politics talks about making stuff.

      I mean, you can try to ignore the people making the rules for a while, but eventually your paths will cross. Ask the Craft Magazine or Etsy communities about the new lead laws and how they’re being affected (try a search for ‘etsy CPSIA’).

  64. Ashcroft Rules says:

    I love this magazine and blog. I especialy like the fact that a project either works or it doesn’t and that holds us all up to a standard the political types can ignore. Politics is for those who seek to influence/control others and by it’s nature involves regulation and warning labels.
    To see Make lean to the left like this obvious Obama-butt-smooching article is annoying. A bigger government means a bigger bill and less money of your own to tinker with cool projects. I get along great with hemp loving lefties who can solder because we’re focused on arduino and not the messiah. Barack Obama is an idiot. That’s my political opinion, likely it offended some readers. If your going to run crap like this then balance it out with an equal viewpoint. Better yet stick with what your good at.

  65. metis says:

    you are not addressing the *content* of the article in this. an article on DIY comdom making might be apt for make, but an editorial on family planning policy would not. just because an author who is a regular contributor to nature doesn’t mean they get an editorial on sterling engines in the journal.

    “I’m glad to publish Cory because he’s been out on the cutting edge of a lot of developments that have shaped our world. Plus, he’s got a terrific new book coming out all about makers. Wait ’til you read it.”

    shilling for cory’s book also does not help to explain your decision to either publish the article or explain the beauty of the response it generated (it is handsomely crafted if undercommunicative). it presents the appearance that you are more interested in making money and gaining attention than “making” things.

    now, granted the purpose of make mag is to produce income, however, when a publication strays from its core path in the name of sensationalism, without suitable explanation, it is failing in it’s job.

    please, actually rationally defend the decision to do publish both items, or take the high road, and learn from your mistake apologize to your readers.

    p.s. the comment system is a PITA today.

  66. JC3 says:

    How the blog entry should have read to avoid all this:

    “Although we’re always sorry to lose a subscriber, we appreciate the creative method this reader used to express his disapproval of Cory’s article. Here at Make we try to avoid politics as much as possible, but wanted to include some commentary on this recent historical election and what it might mean for Makers everywhere. As always, we appreciate your criticisms both constructive and otherwise to make this magazine the best that it can be. We will frame this letter and hang it our office as a reminder to that end. Sincerely, the Make Staff.”

    1. Dale Dougherty says:

      Yes, I wish now that I had used your words instead of mine, which I will gladly eat. I wasn’t commenting on whether I agreed with the reader, but his decision to write us in a somewhat clever way about his displeasure with the article.

      I apologize to those who are so offended. None of us wish to divide our audience along political lines. Whether you like President Obama or not, he was identifying the importance of the maker mindset, and in this issue, we tried to celebrate that mindset as part of the American can-do spirit and its importance to our future.

      1. What says:

        You know… before I would have been fine had Make simply offered an apology straight from all the editorial staff and then made an effort to get the magazine back on its original focus.

        After this attempt at revisionism, along with the book plug, and with the obvious unilateralism of some of the Make staff I am most definitely saying goodbye.

        Thanks for showing all of your true colors. “When something goes wrong, lets cover it up!”

        Wonderful message to be sending to everyone.

    2. Anonymous says:

      JC3 That might be better, but it tries to revise history.

      And frankly this was an eye opener. The unfiltered insolence Dale showed to someone that was paying for Make (to have make-ish contents) paints quite a picture. It shows me that this magazine will be steered farther into the areas where some if not many subscribers don’t want it to go.

      People who want Obamessia worship and no ‘make’ content rejoice! Apparently it this is a clear signal that Left: will be the new Make:

      If you want more ‘make’ in your make: tim -at- oreilly might need to know where his property has gone.

  67. The Oracle says:

    If Make turns into a political pulpit it will die very quickly. Sure you can argue that there are political issues related to Making, but the magazine is supposed to be about actually Making things. I mean, seriously, when I’m playing with my Arduino, why in the world would I care whether Obama said “Make” today?

    Make is a small magazine and to waste precious space on political preaching in a magazine for project enthusiasts is absolute stupidity.

    I’m not even commenting on the specific views expressed they have no business being in the magazine. It’s just noise and clutter.

    *But* as I said in my earlier post, even all of those issues are nothing compared to the “screw you” to the reader that this post is.

    The 77 prior posts on this thread show how you’re dividing the community and alienating readers. How can anyone see that as a good thing?

    No matter how you look at it, this is a couple of nails in the coffin of Make.

  68. Anonymous Coward says:

    @JC3: And the funny thing was, that’s how I parsed this blog post.

    “Well, we opened it and now we own it.” “It will hang proudly on our office wall!”

    I parsed it as “We realized we’d crossed a line with the Doctorow article”, “We’re posting it on the office wall as a reminder to ourselves not to let it happen again.”

    …and wondered what all the fuss was about, and then I read Dale’s comments, and got confused again.

    @Dale: Maybe part of what’s happening here is that we NorCal Makers live in a bit of a cultural bubble. As part of that bubble myself, I had no beef with the article — and even thought the idea of Re:Make America as a one-off “special themed issue” was an interesting experiment.

    But it turns out – and this flamewar is proof – that some folks is just int’rested in makin’ stuff, not makin’ statements. Maybe they use a kill-a-watt to figure out how to save a few *dollars* a year, rather than anything to do with carbon emissions. Maybe taking a bank of surplus laptop batteries and strapping it onto an unused bike is *fun*, as well as green. Maybe a solar-powered LED lamp isn’t a “green” solution, it’s a way of not having to have annoying power cords everywhere, and of not having to worry about batteries running out at an inopportune moment.

    In defense of comments regarding Make’s slow turn from the practical to the political, I had to go through five pages of projects on the blog before I found something overtly political. That’s still a pretty good “fun project” to “preachy” ratio in my books.

    1. Anonymous Coward says:

      Update: Oops, judging from Dale’s 1:02 PM comment, it looks like parsed it right the first time. Never mind :)

  69. Revolverkiller says:

    GIMME A BREAK!

    that article was totally innocuous and embraced the MAKE ethos to a tee. it applies to corporations as well as the government. whether or not you like the president, he did make it so we can see the inner workings. just like we would like to see Microsoft, Apple or any other corp be open source. I didn’t see any blatant leaning one way or the other, be it conservative or liberal. so the political angle theory is out the window. its just an example of an more open source way of thinking. Isn’t that what we all want as Makers? And this wasnt Obama butt kissing as it were, THESE ARE FACTS PEOPLE!!!!!

    at any rate Good Riddance to stupidity, save your money for whatever you want to waste it on later and Believe me you wont be missed at the Faire!

    if everyone that came here because of that ranting retard o’really (o’reilly, bill) you’re probably NOT subscribers to begin with, never been to the Faire, never read the magazine and cant fix anything, except a TV dinner. so go F**K OFF!

    and those subscribers that had a problem with the article, DEAL WITH IT! we dont exist in a vacuum, so we are affected by things in the public sector. if EVERYONE was held accountable in an open source way, there would be less greed, better cooperation and just a better way of life. Cory had the right idea, and chose to apply the Make ethos to govt. BIG DEAL!

    Get over it, build a taffy machine and if you still dont like it…

    PUBLISH YOUR OWN DAMNED MAGAZINE

    I, for one will be a life long subscriber,see y

    Revo

  70. The Oracle says:

    I know if that’s how the post were written I’d have smiled at how Make responds to reader concerns.

    But that’s not what was written and I think this post shows the utter contempt Make feels for anyone who does not share their POLITICAL opinion.

    How is that in any way, shape, or form, the product that make set out to be?

    1. Linda says:

      So you’re saying that seeing this post as a celebration of creative criticism, as in JC3′s revision, is an invalid interpretation?

      To me, both interpretations are valid. Since Dale said his intent was not to ridicule the (former) subscriber, I think all the hubbub is about a misinterpretation. I know I don’t always get my words right the first time, even if I know where my heart lies.

      For those who saw it the other way, benefit of the doubt?

  71. The Oracle says:

    “and even thought the idea of Re:Make America as a one-off “special themed issue” was an interesting experiment.”

    Funny, I thought it was the worst…issue…ever. There’s very little project type stuff in there. Tweet-a-watt is excellent of course, but that was covered to death on the blog, and apparently even TV. Beyond that, the rest of the issue is silly little crap.

  72. Anonymous says:

    I wonder: Had Sharpie Man read page 24 of that issue and had decided that iLuchadora Libre! belonged not in Make, but Craft, had pulled out the page, scrawled “It’s this B.S. that confirms for me this is my last issue.” on that page and sent it:

    Would it have been posted?

    Would Dale have treated that response the same way?

    Would we be focused on the issue of an offensive reaction to the feedback?

    With the politics taken out, apparently Make still needs more content directly related to making things, not indirect opinion pieces. That should be a wake-up call to the editors and owners. If sales are lower, subscriptions lost, then focus back to the original ‘maker’ content.

    Or someone WILL pill your subscribers away with better content.

    1. Anonymous says:

      “pull” your subscribers away…

  73. phosphorious says:

    I’m a bit confused: the article spoke favorably of Obama’s defense of FOIA.

    And a reader was so offended he ended his subsciption, in a rather histrionic and childish way.

    And several other readers followed suit, with very few commenters defending MAKE.

    Are MAKE readers in general hostile to FOIA?

    I would have thought the opposite was true.

    1. Anonymous says:

      A lot of this – were you to read with comprehension – has to do with subscribers annoyed with the less-than-paid-for (real or perceived) level of ‘make’ content (quantity or quality) in Make magazine, as well as the immature ‘FU’ (intentional or not) given to reader feedback by Dale.

      Perhaps with the quality of the magazine degrading and the perceived uncaring of the editor a lot of the original subscribers no longer believe the magazine is for them.

  74. Norm says:

    I’m not a “conservative”, and I’m active in the free culture movement. I have nothing against Corry Doctrow, or transparency. Nevertheless, I sympathize with the commenters here who did not like Cory’s article. I don’t dislike Cory Doctrow… but I just don’t see what it has to do with making things! Make does not have as many cool projects as it used to, and I may stop reading it if this trend continues.

  75. yep says:

    Agree with Norm.
    The person that got me into Make has since given up on it due to the diminished content (~6mo ago), and I’m fighting the urge to do the same. I thought maybe I was just getting jaded, but looking back at the first few ish made me think it was Make that has changed and not me.

  76. Anonymous Coward says:

    Like I said, “interesting experiment”.

    I wouldn’t enjoy getting 4 issues a year like that. Not even one a year – which might be fine for a monthly publication, but not a quarterly. But once every two or three years, sure, I’ll cut ‘em some slack.

  77. Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous
    a) that the article’s angle was not as unrelated to Make’s mission as a lot of people seem to think, and
    –What are you trying to say? I subscribed to this magazine for neat projects and cool hacks and tricks, and I want 100% of my investment in the subscription to go to that content.
    b) that making stuff often gets political, so it makes sense to pay attention when someone in politics talks about making stuff.
    –In 25+ years of engineering I have essentially never run into political issues. Perhaps if I were engineering something dangerous or controversial or using dangerous chemicals? Then again I don’t live in America, I’m Japanese, and here the most controversial political issue I can remember in recent history that affected makers would have been the recycling law they introduced years ago that made it hard for junk shops to sell their goods… but our government mended that and the junk shops seem to have no problems now and I believe there is now much smaller chance of me buying dangerous junk that may contain lead or something like that.

    I think the problem here is a lot of us subscribed for content like that which appeared in the first few issues, but now there are a lot of projects about making decorations with no real technical skill involved and a lot of opinion pieces. I haven’t seen a single project in the last few issues I had any real interest in and have ended up just flipping through the pages and putting the magazine on my book shelf. If the content continues to decline into non-engineering stuff I don’t see any reason to renew my subscription and already I feel a bit cheated out of my money for the latest issues.

  78. dewan says:

    Isn’t the maker/hacker ethic all about free information?
    How can this be a bad thing? Whether you are left or right, If you don’t like the way the government is going, don’t you need to know what they are up to?

    I do think the magazine should have more projects.

  79. Benjamin says:

    As several others have stated… I subscribe to make for the DIY projects, not the political commentary.

    I personally didn’t have a problem with Cory’s article, other than it didn’t really belong in this magazine…

    I DID have a problem with the public ridicule you are putting one of your customers through… It seems a bad commentary to think you are above reproach — that you are untouchable because your political agenda is greater than someone who is paying your very salary.

  80. Chris H. says:

    When I read Doctorow’s article in MAKE, it did rub me the wrong way a bit. Not because I disagree with the premise that transparency is good – it is, and I am in fact an EFF and ALCU-donating lib’ral – but because I don’t believe he really believes in transparency. Restoring FOIA is great, but defending wireless wiretapping to greater degree than Bush isn’t.

    That said, this really isn’t a place for a political discussion. I view Mr. Doctorow’s column as preaching-to-the-crowd filler (of course MAKE’s readers don’t like the DMCA), but, hey, it’s ONE page. I can ignore it.

    I don’t like this post for the reasons everyone’s beat into the ground already, and I am a but disappointed in the direction MAKE’s gone. Less filler, more interesting projects, please! Thanks for listening.

  81. Mig says:

    The article was pretty poor. He is essentially drawing a link becasue the concept of transparent governement and the idea of open source technology both have the word “open” in their semantic fields.

    There is not much similarity otherwise is there?

    The final paragraph is a great example of a non-sequitur as well. Way to go Cory, the intellectual powerhouse.

  82. Colecoman1982 says:

    MAKE is what they make if it (Pun intended). Obviously, the editors think this was, at least tangentially, related to the philosophy of their magazine. It’s one article out of many and there are plenty of other for you to read if you happen to not like it. Personally, I haven’t read this article myself, but it doesn’t seem, terribly partisan, from what I’ve seen.

    The point of posting this here isn’t about the guy not liking the article or the fact that similar articles may have show up in Make magazine. The point of putting it here for public ridicule is that the guy who wrote it was an idiot. He’s an idiot, not because of his opinion/political beliefs, but because he has the communication skills of a caveman and, obvious, anger management issues. This kind of behavior _should_ be ridiculed in the hopes that people like this will get a clue about how irrational their behavior is. Every time some emotionally unstable person like this gets into a discussion, they drag down the level of discourse and make it harder for anything constructive to be discussed. We see this the most in politics coming from “wing-nuts” be it left-wing or right-wing and it threatens the very stability of this country.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @colecoman1982

      Every time some emotionally unstable person like this gets into a discussion, they drag down the level of discourse and make it harder for anything constructive to be discussed.

      What is constructive about posting this blog entry ridiculing this reader’s letter?

    2. Anonymous says:

      “I haven’t read this article myself, but it doesn’t seem, terribly partisan, from what I’ve seen.”

      Can I paraphrase that as: I have not read the article, therefore it is not partisan?

      I have never eaten at that restaurant therefore the food must be good.

      I have never driven a BMW, so it must handle poorly, from what I have experienced.

      - – - – -

      I guess all the blame should go to Mr. Sharpie, then? Immature mocking of his feedback is OK for “professional” editors?

      - – - – -

      I hope the editors have learned something. I guess if Make #19 has no make content but a bunch of soft-ball articles and ussless content, then we’ll know.

  83. Killian says:

    Y’know, this post has garnered a lot of magazine feedback in a short amount of time. This must be pretty valuable to the editors.

  84. Pascal says:

    I never really thought about the increasing political slant and bias before I read this extremely unprofessional post by a staff member of your publication. Your attitude is disgusting, the reader is right, political articles have no place in a magazine entitled MAKE. I own every issue you have published, and I’ve been a subscriber since the second issue, but I will not be resuming my subscription nor will I buy your magazine again. Just so we’re clear, this post was the catalyst for my decision, hopefully that and the many other similar comments above will be taken under consideration during Mr. Dougherty’s next performance review.

  85. Matt Kenworthy says:

    … it was the response by Dale that irritated me.

    I think it’s fine if you want to pin up M. Sharpie’s letter on your office wall.

    I also think it’s fine if you enjoyed pissing off a customer and you think you scored a political point by doing it. Honestly, that’s cool. You can laugh about it amongst yourselves within the privacy of the office and coworkers, and I’ve got to admit, it’s a pretty stylish cancellation letter to boot.

    I don’t care for M. Sharpie’s apparent politics, nor do I care for Cory’s politics either. I get enough of that by reading Boing Boing, and when I got my copy of Make: and saw his byline, I just rolled my eyes and flipped over the page. No big deal.

    But publicly blogging about it and mocking the ex-customer?

    I think that’s pretty rude, and it demonstrates that you have little respect for your subscribers – of which I’ve been one since Issue 1. Not a smart message to send out.

    I’ve really enjoyed Make for the past few years, but next subscription cycle, I’ll take a look at the past year and see if it’s worth renewing.

    Oh, and a “me too” on the broken OpenID login.

    1. Anonymous says:

      To me it isn’t just the Make subscription that I pay for that has had me very bothered by this strong customer-hostile attitude, but all of the other O’Reilly Media that I have and that I _would_ be likely to purchase.

      I just looked. I have 50 O’Reilly titles on my shelf. More than $1500 out of a collection of $18,000 worth of books.

      I’ll strongly consider Apress, Wiley, McGraw Hill, Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley for future books.

      There are plenty of publishers that _want_ customers if O’Reilly dos not.

  86. Jamie Bresner says:

    I’m surprised by the outcry from the posting of a subscriber’s response to Cory Doctorow’s article.

    Here’s a couple things I’ve been pondering as I scanned through the comments.

    First, why bother taking the time to scribble on the page and mail it in when you could just cancel your subscription. Did the writer hope to get MAKE to change? If so, he/she is never gonna find out since they’re no longer reading the magazine. I guess the person is just venting because he/she disagrees with what Cory wrote, which brings me to a second thought…

    What’s so wrong with what was written? Is a government that operates with increased transparency something the reader doesn’t want? I guess I understand their concern if the reader wants the government to keep its citizens in the dark.

    Or maybe the reader feels this article has nothing to do with the MAKE culture, which I’d strongly disagree. Sure it’s not creating a solar iPhone charger or twitter enabled toilet, but the article is part of a bigger picture discussion about the culture of what we do and how we do it. It might be on the far side of the spectrum of our conversations, but it is still part of the spectrum and worth thinking about.

  87. postmaker says:

    “…it’s a shame blog comments are now used to poop on something as opposed to do say something nice or at least be constructive with criticism.”
    - Phillip Torrone (Reference blog entry: Weekend Project: The Bullwhip)

    The real shame here is that this blog entry itself “poop(s)” on the make reader. What is constructive about posting this at all? The point being missed is that this is simply disrespectful to this reader – regardless as to weather or not you agree with the person who sent this note in to make. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. The shame is on you Make.

    I myself do not care for political banter… As far as I am concerned conservative/liberal or republican/democrat is the same “poop” in different piles. Make, you could at least be consistent in your thinking about politics in your content:

    “…but please reserve any political discussion for a more appropriate site.”
    - Phillip Torrone (Reference blog entry: Top 5 election day mashups)

    “PLEASE try and steer clear of political discussions. Make: Online is NOT the place for that. Thank you for your cooperation.”
    - Gareth Branwyn (Reference blog entry: President Obama, a maker?)

    “…a reminder, we’re not a political site, keep it on topic, constructive and solutions-based, thanks gang.”
    - Phillip Torrone (Reference blog entry: “American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan” – for makers…)

    As I read through these comments I notice that a lot of folks have an overarching problem with the diminished project oriented content of the magazine. I think the content of the particular article in question is merely a side effect of this lack of content, as it has nothing to do with making anything….

    Note: I tried to denote where these quotes came from. You can also use the search function on the make website with a snippet of the above quotes to find the source…. I previously tried to post the links but I don’t think the system liked it much. Also: My apologies if this comment posted more than once – I resubmitted thinking the problem was with the links I tried to attach previously.

    1. Anonymous says:

      I can’t really figure out how it is that politics is totally unrelated to DIY culture. Maybe it’s because my window into DIY culture was punk rock, but to me the reasons why you make as opposed to buy things other people made are political.

      I’d rather read a magazine about making stuff that is politically aware than one that isn’t. I’d also rather read a magazine with columnists that have some freedom to editorialize than one that straight-jackets them into writing things that won’t offend anyone.

      And yeah, the note was funny. If the angry person who wrote it didn’t want it posted, they shouldn’t have sent it it.

      1. Anonymous says:

        You either didn’t read the comment you replied to, or just refuse to get it. The quotes provided from postmaker make it seem like they want to be political when it’s convenient to their agenda and that dissenting opinions are not allowed. They need to decide.

      2. The Snob says:

        Self-reliance is a celebrated virtue on the American right, which sees in government much the same sort of concentrated and oppressive power that the Left sees in financial wealth and corporate interests. I think as you move far the the left or right you move towards anarchy, at which point it becomes harder to say what the differences are.

  88. Thick Skinned says:

    Really, guys? Cancelling a subscription over a blog entry? Isn’t this like abandoning your favorite neighborhood coffee shop because one of the cashiers said she was glad a loudmouth customer wouldn’t be coming back? I mean, he didn’t even offend your race, religion, gender, familial status, economic position, or sexual orientation.

    Shrug it off.

  89. lisa says:

    I played softball in college. The coach once made some political comments I didn’t agree with.

    I didn’t quit the team. I voted the way I wanted in the next election.

    simple. –lisa

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