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MakerFaireNC

I’m here at the fourth annual Maker Faire North Carolina with Nick Normal, and we’re delighted to report that not only is it happening right now, but it’s their biggest Faire yet, with a huge list of makers with plenty of hands-on activities.

Don’t let the crowd size in the photo scare you (the Whomping Willow Youth Trebuchet is at center); there’s plenty of fun stuff to do and see right outside, and you’ll find enough elbow room to move around indoors.

It runs until 6pm today, and you can catch our live coverage by watching for photos on Instagram, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter. Nick and I will be following up with more blog posts over the weekend, too. We hope to see you there!

Brian Jepson

I’m a tinkerer and finally reached the point where I fix more things than I break. When I’m not tinkering, I’m probably editing a book for Maker Media.


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Comments

  1. David Moffat says:

    better. I was too optimistic; it was fair to poor.

    The core problem is that “making things” is too broad a category. There were tatting and jewelry-making, sci-fi character costumes and robotics, and trebuchets large and small all mixed together. There were a dozen or so 3D printers, many of which were employed regenerating the same public domain designs. And there was overcrowding on an ad hoc floor plan not laid out for smooth traffic flow.

    The floor plan and crowding problems would be easy to remedy with a bit more forethought, but the core problem, that of inviting anyone who makes anything, though technically readily solved, is politically more difficult. It should be straightforward to relegate the “arts and crafts” to an “arts and crafts” venue, without raising too many hackles. sci-fi outfits might best be exhibited at a sci-fi-themed show, while body armor and swords could shine at a Medieval-themed show. But there would still be more we could do to improve the quality and focus of the Maker Faire.

    The word “focus” is key: “making things” should perhaps be narrowed to “making practical things”. If a dozen 3D printers are to be exhibited, then they should be employed making a dozen different useful objects or parts of useful objects. Just having this advanced tool should not be the gist of the exhibit. If CNC machines are shown, they should be devoted to making something new, not name plates and Chinese Checkers boards. For example, an earlier Faire included a scaled-down dwelling made entirely of CNC-cut parts.

    Furthermore, it would be useful to exclude exhibits that show simply “here is what I made” in favor of exhibits that demonstrate “here is what you can make, and why you would want to make it”. With this narrowing of focus comes the possible expansion of individual exhibits. For example, exhibitors could display the various steps in their procedures, including more documentation. Showing off a finished robot may be fun, but not very interesting.

    Another worthwhile narrowing of focus would be to exclude anything that appeals only to pre-teens, who are unlikely to benefit from the show. This would also reduce crowding.

    Compared to all the talk these days about getting people interested in STEM–science, technology, engineering, and mathematics–the Maker Faire was largely shallow and frivolous. Perhaps it is time to make it serious.

    1. Angus Hines says:

      David,

      We appreciate your critique of our event, but would have preferred that you just came and talked with us. We are a very approachable group and would have enjoyed having the opportunity to have had a dialogue with you on the things you mentioned here. We would much rather have an engaging conversation and have you become a part of helping to shape the Maker movement, and future Maker Faires in North Carolina.

      Angus Hines
      Co Producer, Maker Faire North Carolina

  2. Kevin Gunn says:

    Thanks for the feedback, David!

    We had the “good problem” this year that we DEFINITELY outgrew our space (and fortunately this is a very fixable problem). We knew within minutes of opening the doors this year that the word had really gotten out about Maker Faire North Carolina and that we were no longer going to fit in the space we have. We don’t like overcrowding, but we were thrilled to see how many people now “get” what it means to be a Maker in NC. Our Maker community is growing faster than we could ever have hoped or imagined. The world of DIY in NC is undergoing a wonderful renaissance, and those of us that volunteer with Maker Faire North Carolina are thrilled to be a part of it.

    You are correct again in that we are looking to have broad appeal. STEM is important to us and will always be a *big* part of what Maker Faire North Carolina is all about. However, it is not the *only* goal. The team at Maker Faire North Carolina is passionate about creating the desire to CREATE rather than simply consume. Personally, I believe the world becomes a better place when people create — regardless of the form in which that is expressed. Stormtroopers and Steampunk, jewelry and upcycling, almost-lost traditional skills and modern robotics: every one of these make the world richer, more spectacular, and more vibrant. Making makes the world a better place in which to live regardless of the practicality of that which is made.

    Likewise, we want people of all ages to become Makers. We’ve taught very small children to solder and shared seismology with senior citizens. I’ve watched a four year old light up when introduced to model railroading (so much better than cartoons and video games!) and a woman in her fifties develop a sudden interest in beekeeping. Every budding Maker from the youngest to the oldest is part of our mission and our passion.

    For some like yourself, this broad mission may make Maker Faire North Carolina feel overstretched or less serious than you might like, but we don’t seek to be a trade show or tech school — we want to be a place where people become INSPIRED by what they see and EMPOWERED to actually participate in that which has inspired them thanks to the many wonderful Makers that come to teach and share freely with others. We celebrate the entire world of Do-It-Yourself while hopefully fostering community among Makers of *all* stripes regardless of the form that Making takes.

    Thank you again for coming out this year! Thank you again for feeling passionate enough to provide feedback as well. If STEM education is your passion, and you would like to be a part of encouraging that area of Making, please consider ways you could participate in Maker Faire North Carolina next year as a Maker in promoting STEM. We are always seeking additional passionate souls that have knowledge and creativity and who wish to inspire and teach others. Our staff of volunteers are already starting to work to “increase the awesome” again for Maker Faire North Carolina 2014, so please reach out to us if you would like to be part of it.

    Thanks!
    Kevin Gunn
    Maker Coordinator, Maker Faire North Carolina

    – Life is short: Void the warranty –

    1. It should also be noted that the flagship Maker Faires in San Mateo and New York run the gamut in terms of displays and makers represented. From life-size Halo suits, to R2D2s, 3D Printers, jewelry, crafts, you name it! They have a place at any Maker Faire.

  3. If you make something then Maker Faire is a place you can exhibit, share and inspire. It matters not what you made, it’s about the fact that YOU MADE IT! The wide range of things being made is exactly what it’s all about. It’s easy to critique an event when you have no idea what it takes to put it on or produce something to exhibit. This is a passion we all share.

  4. David, next you should be IN Maker Faire and bring some of your furniture! :)

    1. Jon Danforth says:

      YES! I agree! Beautiful stuff. I’ve taught woodworking and there’s plenty of STEM that can be shared in the woodshop if you know where to look.

  5. Jenna says:

    We didn’t get there until just before 2 pm on Saturday and it was slammed inside and out. This is my 3rd year attending with kids, and the chaos of it has an appeal that standard pipe and drape events lack. We drive 2 hours to attend, and are not part of any organization that has a booth. Extending the hours to 6 pm helped this weekend – even though a lot of booths began packing up at 5pm. We love that there are crafters next to 3Dprinters next to cosplayers next to bots.
    I do agree that there needs to be more space. The lock-pick table was full until closing, and the Bot-soldering actually ran out of kits. Things that would make navigation easier are a vendor/booth map, mini directory and better signage.
    Have you considered moving it around the state? Charlotte/Greensboro/Asheville? Changing venues every few years would be great.

    1. Jenna,

      Thank You for your commitment in making the 2 + hour drive to attend our event. We have already addressed your the things you mentioned here and can count on better signage a map and possibly extended hours.
      As for moving it around the state we have some future plans for doing somethings like that, while not moving the Faire itself (except to a bigger venue in Raleigh) we are looking into the possibilities of doing some small traveling type of events. So stay tuned and learn more about those as we begin to put our plans together for that !

      Angus Hines
      Co Producer, Maker Faire NC

  6. jtdanforth says:

    Thank you for all of your feedback on this post. All of it is appreciated.

    Would you mind sharing your thoughts in our official attendee survey as well?

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MakerFaireNC2013AttendeeSurvey