Remake the World

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In a recent column, titled An Upside to the Economic Downside, Ellen Goodman wrote:

Sociologists will tell you that the most powerful impetus to change is not a new discovery. It’s when you learn what you already knew. What Americans already knew at some level was that the credit-card-driven, debt-ridden, pay-later economy wasn’t sustainable. Not economically. Not environmentally.

It wasn’t just the Birkenstock crowd or our Depression-era elders who knew this. It’s been nestled in our collective subconsciousness among all the critiques against materialism, all the screeds against commercials, all the unease about excess and inequality, all the fear that we’ve filled our kids’ lives and landfills with stuff. But it was as commonly dismissed as a Sunday sermon. Or manipulated into a pitch for diamonds.

It is the time for change and I believe makers were hoping the time would come. We’re living in a period of dramatic change that is, as Dickens described Paris during the French Revolution, “the best of times and the worst of times.”
We hear plenty about how bad it is or how bad it is going to get. However, there’s also good news, and it’s echoed in Goodman’s comments. Many of us have felt that our way of life, our way of living, was not good for us, and not good for the planet. We sought change but we weren’t clear how to make change and change the world. So much of society and culture seemed locked-in, finding more reasons not to change.

As I see it, we have a special opportunity now to make change and remake the world we live in. The kind of problems we face won’t be solved by the usual approaches nor by the usual people. Albert Einstein said: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” We can approach these problems differently and propose unusual solutions that might have seemed impossible to achieve not long ago. Education, Energy, Transportation, Healthcare, Construction, Community — you name it, it’s on the table. We need more and more makers engaged in these issues.

As I said in my recent Make column, The Visible Hand, we have “to believe that [change] starts with each of us.” As individuals and in groups, we can work together to face tough problems and we can make changes in our lives, our homes and our communities. I am seeing more and more examples of people applying themselves to a wide range of issues, usually involving creative uses of technology and/or social media.

I plan to begin covering these efforts under what I’m calling Remake on the Makezine blog. I invite you to share your ideas and your projects with me (dale at oreilly dot com) and tell others about what you’re doing to remake the world. I hope we can create an ongoing dialogue about what remakers are doing and what can be done.

16 thoughts on “Remake the World

  1. Uh… He spells out, Education, Energy, Transportation, Healthcare, Construction, Community.I read Make because it’s optimistic with enough humor not to take itself too seriously.

  2. Yes, Dale, it is dialogue. What they are saying is that there are lots of people who are going to save the world by “Starting A Dialogue” (“Raising Consciousness” is another favorite), usually about some broad, vague concept, accompanied by platitudes. Translated, this means “I don’t have anything original so I want you to do my work for me.”

    The Remake blog is a good idea. I hope you can identify and highlight some ideas that are original and practical. But you have to understand the skepticism. I look forward to reading it.

  3. Not to be bitchy, but could make: get a forum that works and is more usable. Sure, it’s nicer than php type boards. But it’s hard to get around it. Having a central to this type of community is key.

  4. @paolo – which forums do you suggest? i’d like to check them out …. we’re using vanilla forums, open source, has rss… so far no complaints (besides yours i suppose).

  5. I don’t know all that much about boards. I don’t know any by their names, really.

    Maybe I’m just too used to php style boards. But the lack of quotations and the inability to put pictures really halts discussions. Mind you, I’m guessing it would all be possible with vanilla. I checked their forum and they were able to put up pictures. Maybe that was added in newer version. Also, for the quotations. I found some add-ons for vanilla :

    http://lussumo.com/addons/?PostBackAction=Search&Type=Extensions&Keywords=quote&Sort=Recent

    that would probably enable quotation.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think there are a lot of visitors on make: (apparently 54,472 visits per day and 77% of it go on the blog, 2% on the forum) I’m always surprised by how little comments are made.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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