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Alas, we just closed the gates on Maker Faire Bay Area 2011. It was, by all accounts (that I’ve heard) an inspired success. Happy, huge but well-mannered crowds, hundred of amazing makers, and an embarrassment of things to see, make, test, ride, play with, and eat.

But at the end of each Faire, we always watch people walk away, wondering who did we “reach” this year? Who’s going to go back home, pick up a hammer or a soldering iron or a screw gun or whatever and translate their inspiration into next year’s impressive Maker Faire exhibits? This might sound like a romanticized notion, but we hear this same story year after year.

This year, we actually want to hear more of these stories. If you came to the Faire and decided to undertake a project as a result, we’d love to hear from you. We’d love to track some projects, from inception and design through to completion, and possible inclusion in next year’s Faire. Share your current thoughts now In Comments below) and let us know what your plans are.

And we can’t wait to see you next year, or in Detroit or New York.

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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37 Responses to Maker Faire Bay Area is Over, But the Fun Has Just Begun

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  1.  BioCurious had its 2nd but BEST year EVER at Maker Faire! Thanks to the MAKE team for the continued support and for our shiny new Education Award. =)

  2.  BioCurious had its 2nd but BEST year EVER at Maker Faire! Thanks to the MAKE team for the continued support and for our shiny new Education Award. =)

  3.  BioCurious had its 2nd but BEST year EVER at Maker Faire! Thanks to the MAKE team for the continued support and for our shiny new Education Award. =)

  4. Unfortunately I don’t think you “reach”ed me…it was so crowded I didn’t make it to a quarter of the things I wanted to see.  Time to upgrade to a bigger venue?

  5. Unfortunately I don’t think you “reach”ed me…it was so crowded I didn’t make it to a quarter of the things I wanted to see.  Time to upgrade to a bigger venue?

  6. Unfortunately I don’t think you “reach”ed me…it was so crowded I didn’t make it to a quarter of the things I wanted to see.  Time to upgrade to a bigger venue?

  7. I’m sorry to sound like a curmudgeon here, but I think you need an adults only time. I am not local to the bay area, so I have some expense involved in attending. When I am shoved aside by undisciplined kids and rude parents, it make me question whether I will be back for a 5th Faire next year. I understand that kids are the future of this movement, but was thoroughly frustrated this year

  8. I’m sorry to sound like a curmudgeon here, but I think you need an adults only time. I am not local to the bay area, so I have some expense involved in attending. When I am shoved aside by undisciplined kids and rude parents, it make me question whether I will be back for a 5th Faire next year. I understand that kids are the future of this movement, but was thoroughly frustrated this year

  9. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  10. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  11. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  12. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  13. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  14. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  15. I was there with my 5 year old daughter who had a blast at the Faire, but I totally agree with Brian C’s recommendation.

    Adults-only hours, or maybe even an entire kid-free day, would be welcome and allow us curmudgeons to network and talk to one another without constant interruptions from the rug rats.

  16. So how about the East Coast next year?

  17. I’ve driven from L.A. to San Mateo with my kids since Faire #0002. Due to the crowd last year, I opted out for 2011…for the first time in five years.

    While I miss the overall experience, it looks like I probably made the right decision. The pics online look like the event was cool, but not cool enough to have to deal with the paralyzing crowds. 

    I vote for a bigger venue.

  18. Anonymous on said:

    I think the more adult-friendly event is called Burning Man?

    My 9yo nephew had a great time. The one person I wanted to talk to was mobbed, not by annoying kids, but by an annoying adult who wanted to show the vendor how smart she was. But I was able to circle back a little later and talk with him for a couple minutes, so I was happy.

    Personally I would likely not go back because most of the stuff I saw was well below my level. The stuff I wanted to see, like Shopbot’s booth and the techShop equipment, is stuff that was cool to see once, but there’s no reason to see it again. While some of the lectures and such might have been more interesting, it was hard to do those and deal with the squirt at the same time, and to see it all I really would have had to spend a full two days there, and I can’t see doing that.

    Personally, I could do without most of the projects and exhibits, particularly all the huge sculptures and fire-breathing stuff, and just have a couple tracks of more advanced material and the big talks from Adam Savage, Mike Rowe, etc. That sort of event would probably be a lot smaller, zero kid appeal, but would also probably be a lot cheaper to produce so the gate might still make it economically feasible. I think the Faire has become a mainstream family event, and for the most part, that’s a good problem to have. But as I have said many times, while I like the energy that the Make movement brings to all this, I’m feeling like I’ve outgrown it and continue to question why I should subscribe. Likewise, while I enjoyed the Faire, I wouldn’t do it again for my own sake. The kid would probably love it though!

  19. Anonymous on said:

    I think the more adult-friendly event is called Burning Man?

    My 9yo nephew had a great time. The one person I wanted to talk to was mobbed, not by annoying kids, but by an annoying adult who wanted to show the vendor how smart she was. But I was able to circle back a little later and talk with him for a couple minutes, so I was happy.

    Personally I would likely not go back because most of the stuff I saw was well below my level. The stuff I wanted to see, like Shopbot’s booth and the techShop equipment, is stuff that was cool to see once, but there’s no reason to see it again. While some of the lectures and such might have been more interesting, it was hard to do those and deal with the squirt at the same time, and to see it all I really would have had to spend a full two days there, and I can’t see doing that.

    Personally, I could do without most of the projects and exhibits, particularly all the huge sculptures and fire-breathing stuff, and just have a couple tracks of more advanced material and the big talks from Adam Savage, Mike Rowe, etc. That sort of event would probably be a lot smaller, zero kid appeal, but would also probably be a lot cheaper to produce so the gate might still make it economically feasible. I think the Faire has become a mainstream family event, and for the most part, that’s a good problem to have. But as I have said many times, while I like the energy that the Make movement brings to all this, I’m feeling like I’ve outgrown it and continue to question why I should subscribe. Likewise, while I enjoyed the Faire, I wouldn’t do it again for my own sake. The kid would probably love it though!

  20. Anonymous on said:

    I think the more adult-friendly event is called Burning Man?

    My 9yo nephew had a great time. The one person I wanted to talk to was mobbed, not by annoying kids, but by an annoying adult who wanted to show the vendor how smart she was. But I was able to circle back a little later and talk with him for a couple minutes, so I was happy.

    Personally I would likely not go back because most of the stuff I saw was well below my level. The stuff I wanted to see, like Shopbot’s booth and the techShop equipment, is stuff that was cool to see once, but there’s no reason to see it again. While some of the lectures and such might have been more interesting, it was hard to do those and deal with the squirt at the same time, and to see it all I really would have had to spend a full two days there, and I can’t see doing that.

    Personally, I could do without most of the projects and exhibits, particularly all the huge sculptures and fire-breathing stuff, and just have a couple tracks of more advanced material and the big talks from Adam Savage, Mike Rowe, etc. That sort of event would probably be a lot smaller, zero kid appeal, but would also probably be a lot cheaper to produce so the gate might still make it economically feasible. I think the Faire has become a mainstream family event, and for the most part, that’s a good problem to have. But as I have said many times, while I like the energy that the Make movement brings to all this, I’m feeling like I’ve outgrown it and continue to question why I should subscribe. Likewise, while I enjoyed the Faire, I wouldn’t do it again for my own sake. The kid would probably love it though!

  21. Anonymous on said:

    I think the more adult-friendly event is called Burning Man?

    My 9yo nephew had a great time. The one person I wanted to talk to was mobbed, not by annoying kids, but by an annoying adult who wanted to show the vendor how smart she was. But I was able to circle back a little later and talk with him for a couple minutes, so I was happy.

    Personally I would likely not go back because most of the stuff I saw was well below my level. The stuff I wanted to see, like Shopbot’s booth and the techShop equipment, is stuff that was cool to see once, but there’s no reason to see it again. While some of the lectures and such might have been more interesting, it was hard to do those and deal with the squirt at the same time, and to see it all I really would have had to spend a full two days there, and I can’t see doing that.

    Personally, I could do without most of the projects and exhibits, particularly all the huge sculptures and fire-breathing stuff, and just have a couple tracks of more advanced material and the big talks from Adam Savage, Mike Rowe, etc. That sort of event would probably be a lot smaller, zero kid appeal, but would also probably be a lot cheaper to produce so the gate might still make it economically feasible. I think the Faire has become a mainstream family event, and for the most part, that’s a good problem to have. But as I have said many times, while I like the energy that the Make movement brings to all this, I’m feeling like I’ve outgrown it and continue to question why I should subscribe. Likewise, while I enjoyed the Faire, I wouldn’t do it again for my own sake. The kid would probably love it though!

  22. Looks like another successful event. Unfortunately, since I live in Atlanta (which Make doesn’t realize is part of the United States, since they ignore the South) it’s unlikely that I will attend one in the future. While the travel expense isn’t an issue, when you couple it with a too-small venue and too-large crowds, my interest drops to near-zero.

  23. Anonymous on said:

    I just finished the drive back to Oregon. Still trying to absorb all I saw. I know I spent too much time taking pictures (with my just-finished stereo camera rig) instead of learning and doing.

    I think there is some validity to the charges of child-centricism.

    On one hand, I think this it is important to evangelize to and encourage parents, and to show kids the kind of things that people make.

    On the other . . . DANG, all those baby buggies and tots made it hard to get around.

    And I wonder if “spectacle” was given more emphasis over substance. The whole middle hall — the darkened “rave” venu — was largely a waste of space. It was unappealing hard to get around and to appreciate the few exhibitors who were there.

    One thing I’d like to see more of are classes. And not just more of them, but in a quieter venue with adequate time.

  24. The crowds were unbelievable and I found myself retreating to my exhibit to escape, but I think it’s a good problem to have. Many of the families are there just to look and play, but every activity available encourages hands-on creativity in some way. Some may be annoyed by children running underfoot while attempting to peer into the workings of some complicated device, but these kids are the ones you want running the country in 30 years.

    Imagine the millions of children whose parents parked them in front of a TV or video game last weekend, instead of bringing them to an event where they can see creativity, science, and building skills at work. Some kids even helped me work back through the possible problems and repair my exhibit when a quarter of the LED lantern ceiling had failed early Saturday. The fact that so many families came to Maker Faire this year has to be viewed as an extreme positive in light of the actual goal of Maker Faire.

    The event is not *for* the erudite scientist, to tip toe through hushed halls, quietly discussing the higher aspects of research. It is supposed to be a rowdy, loud, overwhelming assault on the couch potato.

  25. My husband and I LOVE all aspects of Maker Faire. We come to celebrate the explosion of creativity, intelligence, imagination with conservation at its core.  From homespun wool to 3D printers, hydroponics to ArcAttack we love it all.   We have attended for four fabulous years.  We first saw Rodney on the Sunday show some five years ago and knew we needed to take our grandson, then 14.  The next year, we took our granddaughter, then 19. Additionally, my sister-in-law and her two grandchildren joined us. Last year, we took the grandson, again.  This year due to school schedule conflicts, just my husband and myself attended.  Granted there are many things we already know how to do, he an electrician and I a crafting fool forever, we still enjoyed everything.  We are excited to see new ideas and see old ideas popular again.  Goodness, I was crocheting rag rugs 40 years ago, and now they are popular again!
     
    Attending is not easy for us.  We drive from Redlands, CA, an eight hour drive.  I am handicapped with arthritis, and my husband is a below the knee amputee.  Navigating crowds is difficult for both of us.  Yet, the huge crowds prove the popularity of this event, so if we cannot motivate where we want, we wait until a break in the crowd.  Kids that seem rude are usually just excited.  I’d move as quickly as they, if I could.
     
    I must say I did like the setup better when the kids had a separate room to create.  Tearing apart keyboards was a kick for them.  And they were not as crowded.  Additionally, it gave some of us adults a chance to “play” in the maker room.  I also liked having swap-a-rama inside.  MORE space between booths in the Bazzar Bazzar would make it more pleasant for shopping.
     
    We come home with our creative juices flowing — last year my grandson created a solar backpack and presented it for his Senior project this May.  I want to create some clothing with soft circuits. 
     
    We plan to attend next year, hopefully with more family members.  It would be a great improvement to be able to move the crowds into the event faster or have a separate entrance for handicapped.         

  26. I attended several times in the past, but this year I volunteered.  I got to meet many great people and all the big shots at the Faire were very approachable.

    I can’t wait to do it again next year!

    Dick

  27. Paul Hastings on said:

    :sigh:

    I wish yall would come back to Austin again.

  28. Paul Hastings on said:

    :sigh:

    I wish yall would come back to Austin again.

  29. I am desperate for plans to make my own infinity swing.  My daughter freaked and wants one SO BAD. I would definitely be making that if I could figure it out (or if anyone was willing to share….)  :)

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