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President Obama, a maker?

President Obama, a maker?

Watching President Obama’s speech on Inauguration Day, I had a strange experience of cognitive dissonance as he uttered the above quote. My word, I thought, could he be aware of MAKE and the maker movement?

Either way, he’s definitely speaking our language, and that passage and the general tone of his speech, his call to remake America, served as part of the inspiration for this year’s Maker Faire and the theme of the forthcoming issue of MAKE.

Today, he did it again. We just got this email from MAKE Senior Editor Phil Torrone saying:

We interrupt this MAKEcation to bring you the following message from the President..

“…think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, like science festivals, robotics competitions, and fairs that encourage young people to create, build, and invent — to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.”

It’s like he’s writing our editorial copy!

Dear Mr. President and First Family, please come to the Maker Faire, May 30-31, San Mateo, CA. We promise you’ll be inspired by what you see, hundreds of people, of all ages, doing amazing and innovative backyard science, technology, arts and crafts, people who aren’t just sitting around waiting for instructions, but who’ve rolled up their sleeves and are “remaking America.” Join us!

In National Academy of Sciences Speech, President Obama Announces Major Investments in Research and Education, Encourages NAS Members to Think About New Ways to Engage Young People in Science

44 thoughts on “President Obama, a maker?

  1. Marc de Vinck says:

    With all of the Presidential talk about science and education, I would hope that there would be some sort of presence from the White House. Department of Education?

  2. frenzy says:

    you know how hectic maker faire would be if obama was going to show up? too hectic i say. Imagen the crowds, the security detail the long lines.

    but maybe it would get a huge amount of people into the maker movement, who knows.

  3. Gareth Branwyn says:

    I’m sure you have nothing to worry about. I seriously doubt we’ll see the First Family at the Maker Faire. But as Marc says, it’d be great to get someone from the administration who’s (hopefully) looking at promoting the sorts of things the Prez is talking about (improving sci-tech education, teaching kids the value of making over buying, etc.)

  4. zof says:

    While I am still not on the Obama wagon for reason that will not be disclosed, I am very happy to see someone in his position realizing the importance of science and math in this country. Anyone with half a brain can tell you investment now in the future (aka math and science) will pay off 100 fold in the long run. If he makes more decisions like this and less like he has been then he might just get my vote next election.

    Bravo Mr. Obama bravo.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      I agree. Regardless of the party and the politics, I’m just thrilled to have an administration that keeps talking up science and technology and “the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things.”

      And just so that folks are clear here, MAKE is not on any political bandwagon. We’d want to cheerlead any administration that was talking like this. It’d be silly for us not to. This is the stuff we truly believe in and work every day to promote.

      1. says:

        Did you read Saul Griffith’s politicized editorial in the last issue? So much for keeping the politics out; do these rules only apply to us little people (commenters and subscribers), while the editorial staff can proselytize about the ‘rising political fanaticism’ [of the right]. I like the magazine to help me learn how to MAKE things, but not instruct me on what to think. I’m quite sorry to have had paid to for the frustration of support such demagoguery. As a show of protest MAKE’s politicization of the spirit of what should have remained an intellectual movement I will NOT be renewing my subscription.

  5. Garrett says:

    One incentive for young people to become interested in math and science is to see people using those skills freely and productively in the workplace and in leisure. It’s not enough to encourage better education, we also need to make sure that there will be a place to use those talents. We need to make sure that all the effort spent in education is not crushed out of existence in a restrictive workplace and a society that fears anything out of the ordinary. And we need to make sure that small businesses are not squeezed out of existence by heavy handed regulations intended for the monolithic corporations of last generation.

  6. anonymous says:

    Obama is interested in “the makers of things” precisely to the extent that he can impose ruinous taxation on them so as to “spread the wealth around”. Socialism and entrepreneurialism don’t mix.

  7. Gareth Branwyn says:

    PLEASE try and steer clear of political discussions. Make: Online is NOT the place for that. Thank you for your cooperation.

    1. hurf durf says:

      Please leave the ruinous politics out of Make:! You’re harshing my earf day vibe! How am I supposed to GREEN my trash disposal with all this trash talk? How am I supposed to RAISE people’s AWARENESS about how awesome and into me our prez is?

      Please, no politics!

    2. Anonymous says:

      If you don’t want comments to be political, don’t make products or posts that quote a politician.

      1. Gareth Branwyn says:

        He’s the President of the United States. What he says actually carries weight, helps set policy, motivates action. And he’s saying things that resonate with what we’re doing and trying to promote. It’d be foolish for us to not point out that connection, be it coming from Obama, John McCain, or whomever else was in power.

        1. Anonymous says:

          So – what your saying is:

          Promoting Quotes from President == Not Political
          Comments about President == Political and censored by you

          Got it.

          1. zof says:

            Promoting Quotes from President == Not Political
            Comments about President == Political
            Comments about Presidential Policy == Not Political as policy represents the idea not the man so much

            Depends how you define “Political” but none the less good ideas no matter who they come from should be embraced. Once you refuse a good idea on the grounds of who it came from you have lost free will and dictate you ideals base on hate and not on free thinking like you should.

            But to each his own, but trust me leave it at the door, you wont win here.

          2. Gareth Branwyn says:

            @Zof has it about right.

            I posted this because I thought it was a quote from the President of the United States (not a party politician) and that the quote itself was unassailable and to be applauded by makers of all stripes. Thanks to those who understood the spirit in which it was intended.

            Thankfully, there are at least a few forward-looking politicians on both sides of the aisle when it comes to science and technology issues, the need for better sci-tech education, and the desire to make people more resourceful and self-reliant. We will continue to point these folks out whenever what they say is relevant to the concerns of MAKE and our readers.

  8. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Okay, I’ve removed one political diatribe and will be removing all future ones, so don’t waste the time to post them. Please take such discussion to a political website. Here we talk about making things, science, technology, doing it for ourselves, etc.

  9. KentKB says:

    In National Academy of Sciences Speech:

    “Think about new and creative ways to engage young
    people in science and engineering, like science festivals,
    robotics competitions, and fairs that encourage young people to create, build, and invent – to be makers of things.”

    1. KentKB says:

      Oops! hit the submit button to soon….

      I wanted to add to this post that I am flummoxed that in this day and age we need to be kicked in the behinds to (insert Obama quote above) engage our young people.

  10. Pauly says:

    Please don’t remove or ignore this as a political rambling. I am not trying to incite riots.

    I am a conservative and I’ve always believed that the Green movement and many of the items that the liberal movement in America hold up are silly posturing. As conservatives, we would of course want to pollute less and recycle more. It just makes good sense. Conservatives do not hate the earth as much as you might like to think we do. We also support green technology and recycling most of the time – when it makes sense. We just don’t have the time or energy to be green for the sake of being Green. I apologize to conservatives and liberals alike for furthering stereotypes here, but I had to say it.

    That said, while I am not a big supporter of President Obama, I do REALLY like to see this kind of talk coming from the White House. I hope he backs up his talk by supporting legislation that supports rather than harms the Maker Movement. I’m a proud risk-take, doer, and maker of things.

    Support him or not, I am today very proud to call him my President.

    Keep it up Mr. President!

  11. Rufus T. Harlemberry says:

    “I had a strange experience of cognitive dissonance”

    I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

    1. Gareth Branwyn says:

      I think I used it exactly how I intended to use it. Thanks.

      1. Rufus T. Harlemberry says:

        “I think I used it exactly how I intended to use it”

        With that comment, I now believe you generally suffer cognitive dissonance.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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