My Apology to Naomi Wu and the Make Community

Maker News
My Apology to Naomi Wu and the Make Community

Two weeks ago, I did something really stupid. I tweeted that Naomi Wu, @realsexycyborg, was not who she claimed to be, pointed to a conspiracy theory on that subject on Reddit. That would be wrong in any circumstance, but I’ve come to realize a couple of important things about this particular interaction: my response reflected my unconscious biases; and the negative impact of my tweets was amplified by the fact that I, a white, Western, male CEO of a key company in the Maker community, publicly questioned a young, female, self-employed Chinese maker. I specifically apologize for the tactless use of quotes around “her” in a tweet of mine that was offensive to Naomi and all women.

It was completely inappropriate of me to question Naomi’s identity. My reference to a web page that claimed that a white male was responsible for her projects was insulting to Naomi, to women, and to the technical and creative capabilities of the Chinese people. Naomi is what she says she is – an authentic maker who receives no more assistance from others than is customary in a traditional makerspace – and she discloses such assistance when she receives it. Naomi’s results both when working as an individual and when working with Chinese engineers on her sino:bit project demonstrate that she and other Chinese makers are every bit as capable and creative as their Western counterparts. I deeply regret what I have done to suggest otherwise. I apologize to Naomi and the entire Maker community around the world.

Naomi shared pointed criticism around diversity at Maker Faire Shenzhen, including the very important issues of not being sufficiently inclusive of female makers, and the over-representation of foreign-born makers. I should have put more effort into addressing those issues myself and I fully accept responsibility for not doing so. I realize that I contributed to the marginalization of women and local makers in China and I apologize for that.

With feedback from Naomi, we are working on a set of actions Make: will take to address her concerns.

  • With permission from Naomi, we will feature Naomi and her work on the cover of the next issue of Make: along with a full-length story about her work.
  • We will invite her and help her obtain a VISA to a USA Maker Faire in 2018, covering her travel and expenses.
  • We will be publishing a diversity audit of Make: as a company and our properties, and will be setting goals to drive progress on these issues.
  • We will be assembling advisory boards to work with our Maker Faire organizers to ensure our events are representative of our entire community. We will invite Naomi to be part of any advisory board for events in China.

We have learned a lot in the past week here at Make:. Learning and growth are not always easy and we appreciate how Naomi and the Maker community have pushed us and held us accountable. Inclusion, be it gender, culture or technology, is a core value of ours and in this situation, I fell short of living that ethos. While I grapple with that, Make: is committed to carrying on this conversation and affecting change across our community.

We also want to hear from you, our community. What conversations are you having around issues of inclusion in the maker movement? What are your challenges and concerns? Would you like to write on this topic, or recommend diverse makers for us to cover online or the magazine? Please send us your input at  This is just the first step in a series of discussions around these topics we plan to host on the pages of Make:, in online communities, and in person at Maker Faires around the world.

Chinese Version

两个礼拜前,我干了一件非常愚蠢的事情。我在推特上说Naomi Wu, @realsexycyborg,她不是别人想象中那样的人,还听信了Reddit捏造抹黑她的所谓阴谋论。在没有证据的情况下就污蔑别人,无论如何我的所作所为都是错误的。特别是在这次的互动中我似乎明白了几件重要的事情:我当时的回复其实有是带着有色眼镜看别人,没有意识到自己其实做出了有偏见的决定。因为我一名西方白人男性CEO作为创客社区核心成员,在推特上面公开质疑了这名来自中国的年轻女性自由职业者的言论,严重地损害了她的个人名声和加大了事件对她的负面影响。我还要特别为我那句不得体的在“her”加双引号的暗示她是变性人言论抱歉,这不仅冒犯到Naomi而且对其他女性来说也是不公平的。










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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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