Like many of you who were at Maker Faire Bay Area 2012, I’m still recovering. Seeing, meeting, and talking to thousands of makers is overwhelming and it is energizing — there is nothing like it. Today happens to be Father’s Day, so I thought I’d post an observation that I can’t get out of my head. I’m hoping it will now leap out and get into yours :)
I believe the maker movement is now in transition, the older folks (like myself) have worked in and around what’s been called the “maker movement” for almost 10 years now. We all come from different places and different backgrounds, we were basically adults as this effort to celebrate DIY really ramped up. But our time is coming to an end, I don’t mean we’re going to quit doing this, I mean we are handing the keys off to the next generation. It’s no longer ours.
The kids I met at Maker Faire and meet all over the world at MAKE/DIY events have only known a world where a “maker” was always a real thing one can be or do. They’ve always known Maker Faires, hackerspaces, and open source electronic kits to build. Most or all of their lives the idea of making things, taking things apart and sharing has not been something new, it’s something that’s always been there for them. The average maker isn’t just a 35 year old guy, it’s becoming a 10 year old girl or boy with a 3D printer. There are kids who can recognize (and have used!) the open source hardware logo just as easily as us older folks recognize the Nike, Coca-Cola, or Apple logo.
These kids are living in a time when there’s $25 Raspberry Pi computer or an Arduino inside of just about anything. They’re on Google+ Hangouts sharing their projects, they’re posting their creations on DIY.org and Instructables. They have Creative Commons and open source licenses on the the things they make. When we all started MAKE in 2005, a 10 year old kid would now be about 17. Parents have found me at Maker Faires and talked about how installing Linux on an old iPod or making a TV-B-Gone turned their kid into a different person, more curious about how the world works, and how they went on to pursue art, science, engineering. Imagine being 10 years old now and always knowing there are 3D printers and laser cutters around, files to download, and people to learn from. A lot of us put our works out in the world so others can copy, but we are more than CAD files or the code we release, I think the kids today will also “copy” our willingness to share and see the benefits of open source not only for technological advancements, but for social good.
You never know what will spark a kid’s imagination, and there are so many things that can these days. What a wonderful time to be a young person. So to all the moms, dads, educators, friends of kids – I think we did a pretty good job to get this place ready for them, we’re handing the maker movement over to them now. On this Father’s Day, I wanted to say thank you to everyone out there, not just fathers, but everyone who made the last seven years of “making” possible.
Pictured above, Dave’s kids Tweeted – “The kids holding their earned skill badges” After these makers soldered up a kit correctly, they were each awarded a soldering badge from their Dad. If you look really close, it’s not just an iron-patch and an electronic kit they’re holding… it’s our future.