My first #MakerFaire was Swell

I went up to the World Maker Faire in New York this past weekend, and had a great time despite iffy weather (relevant because the bulk of the event was outdoors).  The lockpicking course from @Toool alone was worth the price of admission, but I also bent some plexiglass with the Institute for Exploratory Research, a hacker space in NJ and had some paella from huge woks that @NickPinkston told me was “a MakerFaire tradition”. 

I’ve begun to think of the Maker Movement as having three threads, each of which was present to some extent at the Faire:

  1. Kids.  America gives lip service to the wonder of children, but doesn’t always deliver.  Kids were first at Maker Faire.  Exhibits were geared to them, people were giving way to them, and they were clearly front and center in the Maker Movement.
  2. Scruffy Hacker-ness.  This of course gives a lot of personality to the Maker Movement.  The people who were running the lockpicking event, for example, obviously and repeatedly asked participants not to the break the law.  But the subtext was, “if there’s a lock you want to open you should be able to do so.”  I bought a t-shirt that said, “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it.”
  3. Rennaisance Fair for American Manufacturing.  This is the meme I’m trying to invest in, and you had to poke around to find traces of it at the Faire, but it was there.  Next-gen manufacturing companies like AutoDesk and Valhalla’s portfolio company GeoMagic were present and sponsoring and clearly hedging their bets with small stakes in the success of the Maker Movement.  There will be more.

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