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Young Pro Maker

We get asked this question all the time. Implicit is usually a hint of “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?” The superficial answer seems absurd. “Making is the act of creating something.” It’s been around forever. It’s not new. And yet I’m excited about it. There’s a movement about it. There’s talk of it changing the world. Why is this so?

At the lowest level “making” is something primal. We need to make and in making there’s a great sense of satisfaction. Moving up the making hierarchy has historically required the grand pre-requisite of acquiring skills. We start off with amateurish work. With time and lots of practice we gradually improve. Eventually, with the guidance of skilled mentors we achieve a measure of expertise and become true craftsmen. People are creative. People want to make. However skills acquisition has been a huge barrier. That’s changing.

Computers and the internet have been slowly reducing the barriers to making. For decades tools have become smarter, design software has become more powerful, and they’ve conspired to make it easier to go from concept to prototype. While computers have done their part the internet, too, has contributed in a big way. With the twin communication activities of sharing and collaborating it’s now easier than ever to mature an idea into a product. Now you can start building using designs shared by others, you can find people with complimentary skills with whom to collaborate, and you can create prototypes, iterate, and improve quickly. We’re living in a new reality. That is what’s different. That is what’s changed. We’re at a tipping point. What we have today isn’t your father’s “making” anymore.

One consequence is that modern makers are doing amazing things. Ideas don’t end at conception, but can be taken to the next level and be realized. At the high end of the spectrum, professional makers are delivering this on a larger scale by getting product out to more people and making a bigger impact in commerce, wealth creation, and the economy. Their success is important on a bigger scale and is one way that society benefits from our movement.

“What is making?”

In time, I look forward to that question going away as more people start making.

Travis Good

Speaker. Maker. Writer. Traveler. Father. Husband.


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Comments

  1. One of our favorite things to do is to share “making.”
    Making is our compulsive pleasure.

  2. Eric says:

    I did some research on this in preparing a presentation for our local Makerspace, Omaha Maker Group. The conclusion I came to is that the tinkering, hacking, engineering, fixing, and so forth only becomes “making” when there becomes a social aspect to it – sharing our successes, crowdsourcing ideas, seeking input to solve a problem, collaborating on an idea, or just plain gathering together to work on projects in a shared space with shared resources.

  3. asciimation says:

    I’ve always created things. It’s just who I am and what I do. I sometimes do get concerned that there is this idea of a ‘makers movement’. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that people are encouraged to think and create and many people are doing lots of great things in this area and sharing what they do. But the labeling and the trying to define the group does worry me. Maybe it’s a more US centric thing (probably it’s just we see more of the US view) but there seems to be a lot of emphasis on people fitting into certain groups. You see it in politics, sports, religion, Apple/Android fan boys, clothing, films, music, etc, etc. And while there are of course a lot of benefits to belonging to a group creativity is a very individual thing. I certainly want to share what I do and I like to try to make what I share interesting and useful to people but I personally don’t want to be part of a movement and actively try not to describe myself as a ‘maker’. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Perhaps I am just odd!

    Simon

  4. I sometimes feel that there is too much emphasis on the use of technology in making. There so many people that are manufacturing products out of their own blood, sweat and tears with low tech tools. CNC’s and 3d printers are wonderful but so is the fine craftsmanship that is exhibited from table saws, hand saws, knitting needles, etc… that never have a tech component attached to it. Making spans a wide gamut of possibilities and all of them are equally valid.

    Chef Felisha Wild

  5. Joe Rodgers says:

    There’s always been DIY tinkering. It’s comparing notes on the internet than makes it different. these days. Of course, some skills are more easily shared over the web than others. My papercrafting hobby was begun entirely through the web, but working in metal has proved much more difficult to bootstrap.

  6. wuzzat says:

    Reblogged this on Here's the thing about socks… and commented:
    In telling my friends and family about my audition for MAKE Mag’s TV project, this question has popped up dozens of times. Up ’til now I’ve taken the term for granted. The idea of “making” is kind of implicit, but try to describe it as a movement and you realize how young it really is. I think the modern maker movement was really “born” once it was given a name. This article sheds some pretty good light on its origins.

  7. [...] Read the full article on MAKE [...]

  8. [...] the article What is “Making”?, Eric [...]

  9. […] opportunities for youth and young adults throughout the community. We’re inspired by the Maker Movement, an explosion of resources and events for innovators, creators, tinkerers, and teachers (that […]

  10. […] WHAT IS MAKING? “We get asked this question all the time. Implicit is usually a hint of “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?” The superficial answer seems absurd. “Making is the act of creating something.” It’s been around forever. It’s not new. And yet I’m excited about it. There’s a movement about it. There’s talk of it changing the world.”- Travis Good from http://makezine.com/2013/01/28/what-is-making/ […]