Robotic warship combat at Make Faire (& the spirit of making things)

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3978 Articles

By Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and "lazy person's memoir," called Borg Like Me.

3978 Articles

Joining us again this year at Maker Faire is the Western Warship Combat Club. The combat arena is much bigger than last year’s. Says WWCC’s Rob Wood: Last year’s pond was modest compared with this one (30′ x 60′ vs 50′ x 70′).

In responding to some internal memo between Rob and Maker Faire organizers, he wrote the message below about the value of the Maker Faire and making things. This happens to us frequently, in talking to people about the Faire and MAKE. People come up to me at talks and gatherings and profess their love for what we do and the spirit of DIY that we are part of re-kindling. As we go into Faire week, and celebrate Memorial Day, it’s a good idea to be reminded of why we do this. Thanks, Rob!

I do love Maker Faire. I grew up in a world where everything was put together with screws. My dad would take things apart and fix them, and I would be his helper. I don’t think I ever saw him throw anything mechanical or electrical away, and I just naturally assumed that was the way things were supposed to be. By doing what he did, he was able to figure out how the world works, and with his own hands, make it just a little bit better. One summer it got so hot, my dad designed and built an air conditioner for our house. When I was 12, he got the ultimate tinkerer’s job: Taking the battleship USS North Carolina out of moth balls, and transforming her into a museum ship. Dad passed away a long time ago, but when I visited the ship this past November, I felt his spirit on every deck. I guess tinkering is in my genes.

Now look what’s happened: Virtually nothing can be taken apart and fixed. Just toss it. That was a wrong turn we made somewhere back there. The way I see it, you Maker Fairians are inspiring people to stop and look at what we’ve been doing, and find a way back to the main road. That’s why I’m doing this, really. I want to be a part of that. You could say it’s personal.