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Help us brainstorm Make: Online, 2010

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Help us brainstorm Make: Online, 2010

It’s probably no surprise to anyone who hangs out here that we love what we do at Maker Media and we’re always looking to do it better, to reinvent ourselves, to grow and expand, while staying creative and true to our mission, which is, ultimately, to serve YOU, the greater maker community. We’re now in the process of planning what we want to do on Make: Online for 2010.

Since one of our internal themes for the year is “Maker Community,” and how we can expand our relationships with individuals and groups in the wider maker/hacker/DIY communities, we thought we’d ask all of you to help us brainstorm the year. What would YOU like to see more of on Make: Online in 2010?

Here are a few of the things we already have in the pipeline:

* A redesign of the website
* More guest author stints (who would you like to see guest-author?)
* More guest columns, a la George Hart’s Math Mondays
* Expansion of the Make: Science Room, with more, exciting projects, videos, etc.
* More in-depth how-tos in Make: Projects
* More instructional videos, a la MAKE Presents, perhaps a series on mechanical engineering
* Support for Make: Electronics, with instructional videos, step-by-step projects, kits in the Shed, etc.

Now, tell us about YOUR ideal Make: Online in 2010…

(We’ll choose three posters and give them a free Maker’s Notebook, so they can sketch out their year in DIY.)

64 thoughts on “Help us brainstorm Make: Online, 2010

  1. Simon says:

    Better feedback to say you received page submissions would be good. A few times now (twice in the last week actually) I have sent in links and they don’t get used and I am not sure why. I don’t know if the submission was never received, the link wasn’t suitable (if not feedback as to why not would be good) or if the suggestions were just ignored.

    I don’t mind photographing and writing up my projects if I think someone will be interested in them and they can be used here.

  2. Daria says:

    I would like to see something like a “Green” (eco, or similar, however you’d like to call it) section, for “green” projects that can improve your home and living. From “how to save energy” projects, to home recycling, reusing, anything that makes living better (more practical, more enjoyable…) and healthier.

    Well, my 2 cents :)

    Good luck and have a great year!

  3. BlackJade says:

    I am all about the building stuff, be it mechanical, electronic, chemical (may be??) Also possibly stuff about local things / places / stuff going on around me.

    Anyway my two chucks of copper in thin disk like stampings..

    Good work and Lets have a great new year!

  4. Gareth Branwyn says:

    We get SO many submissions each day, there’s no way we could post them all, so we have to pick and choose. One suggestion would be to upload images to our Flickr pool with a link to your project page. That’s one way of insuring that the project gets published at least via one MAKE channel. We also try to twitter some of the projects we don’t have room for on the site.

    1. Simon says:

      Hi Gareth, I figured you have to be selective and need to pick and choose so that’s not a problem. I am just never certain the submission has really gone through properly.

      Am not a big fan/user of either Flickr or Twitter to be honest but I will check them out, thanks!

      Oh, please don’t get rid of the anonymous posting of comments by the way. I LOVE that I can post comments here and not have to actually log in!

  5. grey_lensman says:

    It would be handy to start an index of small projects that teach specific skills; over time, users could build up a small electronics workbench, wood shop, metal shop, etc. Even experienced makers would have a starting place for a new domain, such as optics, vacuum systems, or tube electronics…

  6. Chris Spurgeon says:

    I would love a series that teaches how to think about, design, and build mechanical linkages, drivetrains and the like. There’s been lots of great tutorials on doing Arduino based electronics… I’d love the same plethora of tutorials about mechanisms.

  7. Jonathan Fulton says:

    It might be interesting to see a video section of Make Online, of course with all the videos you produce, but also a section with user uploads, either how-tos or demonstrations of projects.

  8. Robert W Gallop says:

    The basis of 90%+ of hacks are electronics, either basic or not so basic, but there none the less. We seriously need a super “go-to” site (instructables is close, and perfect for what they do, don’t copy that) for electronics learning and projects. If I want to build a monostable one shot 555 timer I don’t want to search and look at 10 sites before I find one clear enough to explain the circuit, timing, etc. I want to go to one place, and see detailed pictures, a calculator for that particular circuit for the timing. It needs to be vast, user suggestible circuits for knowing what to provide. Expanding on this feature could be the ability to have a shopping list already setup with mouser, digikey etc for the desired circuit, one click and you have all the parts you need in the cart ready for purchase.

    I could see this being a wonderful resource done right, and I truly believe if anyone CAN do it right, its the folks at Make! Your graphical style, with excellent photo’s would make this resource POP and become, eventually with enough content, the main place makers from all over will go to get that quick project idea, schematic, or learn the basics. Just think of it, wanna make a joule thief? Go to make’s electronics resource how-to section thingy! Wanna make a solar charged LED night light? Go to make’s electronics resource how-to section thingy. Wanna make a charlieplexed LED array on a pic or atmel atmega? Go there! We all need it, no one else is doing it (some places you can find a nice layout/schematic/info, but they are few and far between), and we’d all support it!

    Make it, and they will come!



  9. Jonathan Fulton says:

    Sorry for the double post ;-)

    Supposedly Google Wave is going to replace email as the standard form of communication on the web, I would love to see some collaboration through the new tech.
    I haven’t had a reason to get it set up, but I think if the readers of MAKE had a live forum to bounce ideas off each other, professional or not, it could do nothing but benefit everyone.
    Maybe an editor could suggest a project and give a wave address, and people could meet at posted times to compare how their projects are progressing. I think it does live video as well, so maybe it would be like having a premiere for your backyard projects!
    Almost like having a workshop stocked with professional advice wherever you go :-)

  10. Donkey says:

    I’d like to see a regular piece that focuses on different regions that highlights goings-on, places of interest, and notable makers in those regions.
    Keep up the good work in 2010!

  11. Dektol says:

    How about finding noted specialists in the areas Make covers and asking them to create a special project exclusively for Make. One expert that immediately comes to mind is Andrew Davidhazy, Professor of Imaging and Photographic Technology at Rochester Institute Technology. He’s an expert in special photography techniques and visualization. Check out his imagery at:

  12. hal5000 says:

    Um, OK maybe there’s a less suggestive name for this, but the idea is to create a special section for kids of various age groups with short articles written at the appropriate reading level & simple projects, experiments or tricks that kids can complete on their own within a reasonable kid-length attention span.

  13. NicK says:

    I would love to see more videos, especially in regards to Arduino and electronics.

  14. Gama2 says:

    I had two ideas. First, You could make different sections for different priced projects. Second, You could have weeks or months where you focus on specific materials like metals plastics or LEDs.

  15. Brian says:


    I would like to see more articles and follow on discussion of improving a workspace to be able to work in the various materials/mediums (wood, metal, electronics, bicycles, gardening, water, automotive et cetera) presented in current projects. The most essential tools and how-to use them properly with “tricks-of-the-trade” in order to shorten the learning curve for beginner makers. I think the Make: website would benefit greatly by having a beginner reference area to allow accessing the basic knowledge in each of the basic fields of making.

    Also, the maker community would benefit greatly from having articles on where to acquire material and components for little or no-cost. No part shall be left behind.

    The online Make: community is a terrific one and can be expanded to real world communities. Make: supported workshops taught by local experts/enthusiasts. Read miniature maker faire. These real world get-togethers can expand learning/sharing/knowledge base of the maker community.

    Contests are good. Contests with prizes are great.

    Articles and projects where calories are the major fuel source would be great. Get in shape and make something.

    Let us not forget the original makers, our ancestors. Articles that cover ancient technology and the tools of our ancestors are becoming more important each day so as not to lose that knowledge. Every culture had an efficient and sustainable way to solve the problems of their day. Let us learn from them.

    Thank you for this opportunity and please continue your great work.

    So that others may make,


  16. cmchap says:

    I’d like to be able to send my non-technical friends to Make to help me explain some technological concepts. It’s difficult to explain exactly what my arduino is to people who think computers are filled with hard-working magic gnomes. I’d like to be able to send them to a video that gives a brief overview of microcontrollers, arduino, and its practical/fun uses.

  17. zgrinch says:

    Have a section with simple builds to build a makers skills. I get most of what is on your site, however, some things like machine programming are not my strong suit, so to speak. It would make making easier if I could start with simple stuff and work forward from there. Anyway, I would like to add one thing, I stumbled across Make about a month ago, WOW, what a site. My only wish is that I could buy five of everything at the Maker Shed Store, now that would be a Christmas present.

  18. PatrickIV says:

    I would LOVE to see a mechanical engineering section. But the browser I use half the time is weak, so it won’t support flash.

  19. gyziger says:

    Make the system for commenting posts EXTREMELY SIMPLE so people can just hop on and post. Also, I think a better supported and more developed forum system would be great. Something where a person who has questions can get answers.

  20. Elizabeth says:

    This idea is related to @hal5000’s Make: Kids theme above, but it would feature ideas suitable for the elementary or middle school classroom. I’m thinking of projects that are accessible, low cost, and do not require a 1:1 adult:child ratio to be completed effectively.

    Projects might include LED and watch battery constructions, mechanical contraptions (cams and cam followers? rubber bands and potential energy?), bristlebot variations, explorations of sound, switchmaking, etc.

    Ideal cost per child would be less than $1.00 in new materials, with alternate ideas for recycled materials and non-traditional sources (e.g., stuff you can pull out of the trash or get at the supermarket).

    It would also be great to have links to state subject standards where they can be identified, so that it is as easy as possible for teachers to integrate more Making into the curriculum – in science, art, social studies, math, language arts, and so on.

    Thanks for the steady source of inspiration. I work at an all-girls school, and the Make-style projects I’ve done with students during and after school have been very successful. I’d love to find ways to do more, and to encourage other teachers to do so as well.

  21. Sam says:

    I like the idea of more mechanical content, or maybe more along the lines of mechatronics? Either way, this year in my second year of mechanical and materials engineering at Queen’s, I have learnt many valuable things that I would love to share with the maker community.

    Things like properties of thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers, which is something I thought I would never find interesting, has become relevant with development of the reprap and makerbot.

    It would be great to come up with some mechanical projects that have the low entry price of electronics, its certainly a hard task, but with a bit of salvaging savy and re purposing, I’m sure it could flourish.

  22. Help us brainstorm Make: Online, 2010 jktechwriter says:

    The list provided for things that will happen is great (especially the website redesign). Here are some of my thoughts:

    1. Issue 20 was devoted to Kids – although I think a “Make: Kids” quarterly magazine would be awesome, I think the website could easily be modified to include a Make: Kids section – if it can’t have its own URL (for kids to bookmark) then at least make it an easy-to-find link that takes kids (and their parents) to less jumbled and more kid-friendly design. Invite special guests like Adam Savage, Dean Kamen, and others to write an occasional challenge or experiment for kids to try out… as a father, most of the magazine and online site contain stuff that is just too advanced for my little boy (and 80% of it is beyond my skill level, too). Think of the things you could do with this new page – Electronics introductions, discussions of scientific principles, walkthroughs for some of the kits you sell, and even videos of kids doing experiments and sharing them with the rest of the world.

    2. Online walkthroughs with more detail for projects in the magazine. Given the limited amount of pages devoted to many of the magazine’s projects, it would be nice to have a single page with a list of all the projects found in the magazine and have some supplementary photos and commentary. Many of the projects in the magazine need just a bit more explanation and it would be nice if the authors of articles could be asked to occasionally provide more details online OR allow us, the readers, to have a specific webpage where we can post requests to the authors for more details.

    I love both the magazine and online content, but the online stuff overwhelms the magazine material in terms of amount and placement, so it would be nice to see the magazine given its own webpage where readers could more easily find stuff related to just the magazine.

  23. sburlappp says:

    I’d like to see more about how to start up an officially blessed “Make: mytown” group, and a central place to find existing groups and coordinate regional activities, such as a local Maker’s Faire.

  24. cyenobite2 says:

    Not only do I enjoy all the cool things I read about on this blog (and zine), but I would like to know more about the people behind the projects. I would love to see a bit more “investigative reporting” on this blog – ie: rather than just posting a photo and a link to a neat item, can you make the effort of trying to contact the maker and try and get a bit more details about that person and or project? Things like: How did you get started? Do you have your own workshop? Who are some of the makers you admire? etc…
    In other words, I think the maker community is just as interesting as the actual projects, and I’d like to know more.

    Here’s to a successful 2010!

  25. Gareth Branwyn says:

    This is great stuff, folks. Keep it coming!

    What’s most heartening is how much of all of this is already on our radar/in our plans, so we seem to be on a same page as our readers in terms of what changes we’d like to see. Cool.

  26. random_geek says:

    No disrespect to anyone, but I don’t want to read about editors, guest bloggers, or Makers. They’re all awesome people, don’t get me wrong; there’s probably not a one of them I wouldn’t enjoy having a drink with. But you don’t find me in the biography section of the a book store; I’ll be in engineering. It’s projects, parts and tutorials I want to read about.

    And I’m sorry that Craft-y content has been leaking into Make. Especially since you established a separate identity for Craft, such stuff seems misplaced in Make. It feels like filler.

    And there is an amazing amount of info on electronics on the net. While I read and enjoy that content, it’s not Make’s strong point.

    In my opinion, the best Make content is “real” projects. That is, projects where the Maker has set out to fix, or improve, or create something, using whatever tech is appropriate and at hand. There are photos, the Maker explains the thought process, what worked, what didn’t work, where they got that weird part, etc. The juicy details.

    And I agree with the suggestion above that there be more mechanical engineering material. That stuff is gold – much more difficult to find, particularly from a Maker’s standpoint. Most geeks I know – and this certainly describes me – can hack code all day, and at least manage the electronics on their own, but stumble when it comes to mechanics. Sometimes it’s the simplest stuff, too.

  27. Stuart Broz says:

    Not literally. I don’t think Make is the place for recipes and such – though, technically, they might fit into a broad interpretation of the mission.

    What I’d like to see, though, is a bit more focused upon the equipment that surrounds (or should surround) food. Consider Alton Brown’s modification of an outdoor grill with a hair dryer to dramatically increase oxygen flow and heat output… or this brilliantly simple cheese press, or developing methods to control temperature for sous vide cooking that don’t require $400+ worth of high-end equipment.

    …or maybe I should just suggest things like this through the submission form.

  28. Volkemon says:

    I subscribe, but the blog is my first true love at MAKE.

    Comments are the icing on that cake.

    (Reading through the comments above MAKEs one realize the diversity of the readers.)

    A few sugg’s:

    1) NO run on posts. Two pics, one pic and a video, along with the text tease should be all that is on a post. If I wanted to read all the steps, I would have clicked the link. (This happens much less than it used to a couple years ago, however.)

    2) A little bit of in-house research. Before posting, maybe MAKE it routine to use your on-site google search to see if it already has been posted. For instance, today has a post on the ‘dremelfuge’, a subject covered 8 days ago by Sean Ragan. If there has been a development in the product that merits more coverage, referring back to the previous post/author adds a sense of continuity to the frequent reader, and may cause a new reader to explore the site more. The appearance the way it is now raises the question: Do (some) contributors even read the blog?

    3)When a post goes up, it is not forgotten. Maybe a 48 hour period when the author monitors comments to their post, and can correct things in the post. Some authors presently are FANTASTIC about this, and correct their submissions in minutes, it seems. Others, well, seem to ‘Set and Forget’ their post.

    4)The “text was entered wrong..” message on submission. I used to use the ‘back arrow’ to return to the comment I typed, because if I used the “return to post” button, it erased all of what I typed. As you see, I can write a book sometimes, and it is a pisser when it disappears. Now using the back arrow has been losing the text. I copy eveything to a document before attempting to post, this has happened so often. I have taken some time writing this, so I suppose I will have to try a few times before it is accepted. Also, I will try the “return..” button instead. (WHEW! Try #1 didn’t go through, and the “return to original post” button erased all the text..Glad I could just copy/paste the other open document..on to try #2)

    5)Some sort of edit feature for the author of a comment- nothing like posting and THEN finding the typoo…

    All things considered, you folks do a GREAT job in running this site. Trying to cater to such a wide range of interests will always have some complaints on content, both what you choose and what is left out. I have expanded my horizons here, and look forward to learning more.

  29. Michael Beck says:

    We have seen Adam Savage many times, How about Jamie Hyneman, Grant Imihara, Tory B., Kari Byron..

    Also Jim Newton from TechShop

  30. says:

    I love to see the hacking-as-art projects that you feature, the ones that push the envelope of what we consider using technology for, the ones that reshape the way we see the world around us. Those projects are amazing, but for most people they are simply beyond the scope of what we want to make. The herd of inter-communicating blimps flying around a gallery is fascinating from a technological and anthroological standpoint, but where does that project become relevant in the world of Joe Maker? I am not asking that there be fewer of these envelope-pushing art pieces, but perhaps an exploration of the technology in question and how it could be used by the garage and basement maker to incorporate into their own projects.

    In that vein, many – really /most/ – of the projects we see here involve a considerable amount of programming. The article that festures them usually mentions that the piece was programmed using Java or C++ or Wiring/Processing, but goes into no further detail. As someone who is new to programming I think it would be very beneficial to feature a series of how-to projects on the theory or techniques used to program whatever the feature is. A series of articles or videos akin to Collin Cunningham’s “Make presents:” features where the intent is to create a modular piece of code which can subsequently be used in numerous projects.

    That said, I look forward to seeing what Make Online brings in the next year, and I’m very excited to see how the magazine and website improve, moving into the future.

  31. Anonymous says:

    “Make: It Real”
    It would be great to network with people who are actually close to where we live. Give us a way to make a connection with other makers through your website… Nothing Fancy just a place to see what region someone is from and make initial contact. When a Real Connection is made we find a sort of Camaraderie and Encouragement not found in a web posting… This leads to regular meetings… More people start to attend and before you know it you have a Team. This would strengthen your subscriber base in rural areas where there are currently 1 to 2 readers every town or so.

    How about a few really good links to Suppliers? Not Radio Shack or Home Depot… But some sites where we can help out small(er) business’ who like to Make the same things we do… (if you already have a page like this… could you make it more noticeable?)

    Thanks For Reading,
    Noah G.

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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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