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Every year, I like to collect favorite Faire stories and “moments” from our staff and then throw it open to our readers who were there to hear some of their choice moments. Here are a few snippets from Maker Media folks who were at World Maker Faire. Were you there? What were some your favorite experiences?

Above is a montage of images of children interacting with the Most Useless Machine (from MAKE Volume 23). Our publisher, Fran Reilly, was set up at the MAKE magazine booth across from this display and loved capturing the sense of wonder and surprise on the kids’ faces. “They turn it on, it turns itself off. ‘How does that work?’ they ask…and so begins the discovery of how to make things!”

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One of my favorite moments is represented in the image above. On the day before the Faire, I was walking across the grounds in the morning and saw a lone silver Christmas tree ball on the ground. I wondered what it was for. I wondered if I should take it. Or put it aside so it wouldn’t get stepped on. At the end of the day, I was walking past the same spot and this giant, beautiful ball of silver ornaments had taken its place. Somehow, it struck me in a significant way. It seemed symbolic of so many things about Maker Faire: the ingenuity in abundance, the leveraging of small things into big things, individual efforts becoming an amazing collective one, etc. As it turned out, this uber Christmas ornament was the front “bumper” on one of the chariots used in the races — a very nasty, formidable weapon. Run for your lives!


Make: Online Associate Editor Becky Stern writes:

During Friday night’s paella dinner, baby Corvidae sat on the Rascal Cycle (seen above), exploring parts of it within her reach. I pointed out to her dad, Eric Wilhelm (of Instructables), that on one side was my smooth vinyl purse, but on the other side was a mess of wires and batteries that some might call an “electrical hazard.” Eric shrugged and said “Meh, it’s only 12 volts.”

Also during dinner, I overheard Dr. Stephen Wolfram and Lenore Edman sharing enthusiasm for (famous lexicographer) Erin McKean’s blog, Dress A Day.

Becky adds:

Dustyn Roberts and I rode the Jet Ponies together, so I shall henceforth refer to her as “counterweight.”

Keith Hammond, MAKE’s managing editor, shares this moment:

On a break from the MAKE magazine booth, I ran into a father and son whose faces I recalled vividly: dad bald, son with wild long curls, both in glasses and beaming huge smiles.

“You guys!” I said, “You’re the guys from New Jersey who were at Maker Faire on the West Coast!” Yes it was them, but they’d come to Austin, Texas, the nearest Maker Faire to the East Coast at that time. I remember them being completely on fire for Maker Faire, father and son absolutely delighting in the same gadgets and technology and wonder.

The kid’s now as tall as his dad, gotta be old enough to drive, but their grins and their eyes were just the same — overflowing, again on fire for Maker Faire, and this one finally on their turf, Maker Faire in NYC. Awesome that we could bring it to all those makers on the East Coast who’ve hoped and waited and finally had it come true.

Marc de Vinck, our Maker Shed Product Developer, offers:

From Kaitlyn (my 8 year old): “Daddy, did you know that DNA is the building blocks of life?” (After learning how to extract DNA from a strawberry…an awesome hands-on experience.)

From Megan (my 6 year old): “I liked the Maker Shed, because that’s where daddy is.”

From a friend: “I thought it was going to be a bunch of nerds showing stuff I wouldn’t understand. It was, but now I understand…..and I want to be a nerd. Are you coming again next year? This was awesome!”

Attendee in the MakerBot tent:
Attendee: “It would be cool if one on these [makerbots] could print chocolate”
Me: “Yeah, they have one right down there”
Attendee: “Yeah, funny”
Me: “No, seriously, it’s right there”
Attendee: “Seriously? Holy $^&#” (I wish you could have seen his face when he saw it)

Shawn Connally, our Director of Digital Media, writes:

I loved talking to people who’d never been to a Maker Faire before about the experience (always positive!). And I loved talking to attendees and makers who had been to several Maker Faires about the differences. The chariots were great to look at and it was a blast watching them race.

Handing out free CRAFT buttons was fantastic because people were so appreciative and often surprised that they were free. And having people comment on the Halloween Contest postcards we were handing out was especially enjoyable because it’s my favorite holiday and I’ve made quite a few costumes, cakes, and tombstone decorations over the years. Booo!

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Dale Dougherty, MAKE’s editor and publisher, says:

I really enjoyed introducing Bre Pettis to Nolan Bushnell. MakerBot meets Atari. Nolan was really excited by Maker Faire and seeing all the makers. I was gratified that he could see what we see in the event.

I also met Michael Cima, MIT engineering professor and inventor. He co-invented the process behind 3D printers, and students in his lab commercialized it as Zcorp. Tim Anderson (MAKE contributor) was one of the students.

One of my other choice Maker Faire moments was meeting Nolan Bushnell, a real hero of mine. Not only is he the father of the video game, but he was also behind Androbot, the company that tried to create a personal robot revolution in the 1980s to rival the PC’s. It was premature (we’re still waiting on that particular hardware revolt), but I’ve always had a huge soft spot for that attempt. Nolan was charming and amazingly fun to talk to. And, like Dale, I was so thrilled to get to spend time with him and for him to see the Maker Faire and meet some of the next pioneers in consumer technologies.

Also, the moment that Nolan met Tim O’Reilly was a hoot. After Tim got off of the Jet Ponies, he came over, a little unsteady on his legs, to the crowd barrier where Dale immediately introduced him to Nolan Bushnell:

Nolan [shaking Tim’s hand]: “I’ve struggled to understand many of your books.”
Tim [not missing a beat]: “And I’ve struggled to understand many of your games.”

So, were you at the Faire? If so, what were some of your favorite moments?