We can make things better…

Folks, these are the best of times and the worst of times, as they say. I live a couple blocks away from Wall Street in a crummy apartment that is getting torn down as we speak. There are piles of ironic rubble everywhere. As I pack up electronics, copies of MAKE, and tools, it’s becoming clear to me that we have an historic opportunity to make things better, not just immediately, but for the future. We’re all likely to feel financial pressures with inflation; our dollars won’t go as far, so our interests and hobbies should be ones that give back. I’m pretty sure “DIY” is going to get even bigger, as more people will be making things. Some make because we want to, some because it’s all we’ll be able to do.

When we are young, we have lots of time, but not lots of money, so we play, we tinker, we explore. I think we’re going to have that opportunity again. The things we make, the tools we use, the books and resources we buy need to work harder for us and be things we not only learn from, but pass on to others, including children. We can spend more time together at meetups (MAKE, dorkbot, etc) and collectively form places, like hacker spaces and tool shops (NYCR, etc) to pool our resources. We can invest in hobbies that will give back, like electronics, woodworking, and DIY in general. Being able to make, fix, repair, and build might be the most important skills to develop. We really only have each other, and I think we’re all better off when we’re able to be self-reliant when we need to be.

We have a lot of challenges ahead. I’m an American and I tend to think that we are at our best when we are challenged the most. It doesn’t get more interesting than this. There are energy problems we’ll need to solve. There are education problems we’ll need to solve. If you’re a parent, you’re in the best possible position to help. You never know what will spark a kid’s interest, so you expose them to lots of things. I don’t have any kids (yet) but after a few years of doing Maker Faires and talking with thousands of parents, I know that electronics seem to be one of those things that kids go crazy with. I’m not sure how we’re going to make the world a better place, but I know we will need scientists and engineers.

As 2008 comes to a close soon, we’re doing everything we can at MAKE to inspire the current and next generation of Makers, who will be creating the next chapter in this story. We have a Maker Faire coming up in Austin (October 18-19). Tens of thousands of people will come together to celebrate making things. We also have a giant sale going on for the rest of the month (only a few days left): everything in the Maker Shed store is 10% off, and you get a free Maker’s Notebook automatically added to orders over $25. Use discount code CRZYDAN at the checkout. If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a time to get started with electronics, this is it. Pick up a soldering set, a kit or two, and maybe an Arduino. There are dozens of people I know who got started and within just a few months were considering new careers; some have even started their own businesses making electronics.

I know there are lots of things you can do with your time and money, and I want to thank all the folks who support MAKE: everyone who visits our sites, watches our videos, reads our books and magazines, and comes to Maker Faire. We’re just one small group in a giant community that is trying to make things better. MAKE is just a collection of Makers; we didn’t create this group of people — they were and always will be out there. I hope we’re doing a good job celebrating this movement and inspiring folks. If you think there’s more everyone could do, I’m certain you will join in and help.

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