Robot Day at Central Library

Robot Day MC of Jacobs Auditorium

Robot Day, Introducing Speakers in Jacobs Auditorium

Robots and libraries. They’re not a natural combination most of the time but where San Diego Central Library is concerned, they’re hand in glove. That’s because the CL has embraced making as just another way of delivering on their mission of providing learning resources to the community. In that context why not have robots in the library?

On Robot Day 30 maker exhibitors ranging from quadcopter flyers to robot competition teams to Maker Faire San Diego had booths. In addition there were 15 hands-on exhibits where people could build brush bots or construct bridges. It was a fabulous day which brought more people to the library than any day since it’s opening day 18 months ago.

Check out this delightful little video done by Team Rise of Hephaestus:

Me? I was asked to manage the stage whereon eight speeches were given. Presenters ranged from 5D Robotics to RD Builders, to The League of Amazing Programmers, to the Qualcomm Robotics Incubator. My role as MC saw fun and I was pleased to have played a role in yet another big step forward for the Central Library.

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A Maker Festival for Education

STEAM Maker Fest

It’s fabulous to collaborate with a sympathetic leader to accomplish something important. Victor Ciccarelli of 3RsRobotics, STEAM in the Park, Super Build Challenge and many other maker education initiatives decided to launch a maker festival focused on education in San Diego. The event we collaborated on was called STEAM Maker Festival and it debuted on December 6, 2014. It was a hit!

Let’s put this in the context of a Maker City which is a well-functioning ecosystem of makers and maker institutions. The full landscape includes maker spaces, libraries, museums, schools/universities, incubators and government. To function effectively these groups need to exist, be aware of one another, and be willing to collaborate. Maker festivals are a good way to bring this about.

Having an event such as STEAM Maker Fest helps advance these goals in such a way that’s complimentary and constructive. For instance, it compliments a Maker Faire placing another maker festival on the city’s event calendar and by bringing makers into close contact with educators. It’s constructive in that it advance making in the key institution of schools and helps develop the community. All around, STEAM Maker Fest is a good addition to Maker City San Diego.

One more insight … at STEAM Maker Fest there was a terrific talk given on Maker City. 😉

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Enlisting Makers Against Ebola

Colorized Ebola Virus (by Cynthia Goldsmith)

Colorized Ebola Virus (by Cynthia Goldsmith)

The dream was to activate the large and distributed community of creative makers to help solve problems dogging the Ebola crisis. With a sense of urgency that didn’t allow for good metrics planning I started publishing the series below. Our combined hope was to attract many a maker to OpenIDEO’s Fighting Ebola ideation platform and that good ideas would lead to great prototypes which became relief-providing solutions.
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Vocademy Makerspace

Vocademy's Signage Proudly Proclaims it's a "Makerspace"!

Vocademy’s Signage Proudly Proclaims it’s a “Makerspace”!

Maker Faires are great coming-together celebrations of the maker movement so when a new one comes on the radar I want to be supportive and share what I know. In addition to bringing the latest Maker Faire to SoCal, Vocademy is both a new makerspace and a new variation on maker education. Package the promise of all this into one visit and I’m there!

Continue reading

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Maker Faire Turns Nine

Always a joy, this ninth Bay Area Maker Faire was no different. This year was actually more enjoyable than last year becausd there was more room in the otherwise packed San Mateo Fairgrounds. Aisles had been widened by deliberately accepting fewer exhibitors and the result was greater comfort and more visitors, perhaps as many as 140,000!

We had quite the contingent from San Diego. All the usual suspects were there but in addition we had more institutional interest. I had the pleasure of being guide for representatives from Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. We also saw Qualcomm there with a large booth which was gratifying since they were our Premier Sponsor. All this was of course in addition to my speaking, writing and stage management responsibilities.

Fun … but exhausting!

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Maker Faire Producers Workshop

Institutional Collaborations within 90 days of SDMMF

Institutional Collaborations just within the first 90 days after San Diego Mini Maker Faire.

San Diego’s first Maker Faire turned out to be the 15th largest in 2013. Most of this success was attributable to the latent interest in the event and the large community just waiting for the opportunity to attend. However, we were successful in a few ways which were uncommon and I was asked to present those in a speech entitled Corporations, Institutions and Mini Maker Faires. Continue reading

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Make a Makerspace

Gui Cavalcanti of Artisans Asylum

Gui Cavalcanti of Artisans Asylum who co-teaches How to Make a Makerspace

Molly and Gui stage a wonderful workshop for those wanting to start a makerspace. It’s based on their amazing experience with Artisans Asylum and it’s called “How to Make a Makerspace“. This makerspace went from less than 2,000 sq ft to over 40,000 sq ft in three years; the rise was meteoric! Had they not been good business people then they’d have failed but they are good, they chronicled their grew, and they share their learnings.

So why is this a post on my blog? Because I’m the sideshow, there to lend perspective of a more normal sort. I’ve been to over 100 makerspaces and I co-founded one called Nova Labs in Reston, VA. Most attendees will not have the Artisans Asylum experience and I’m there to to provide balance, realistic counterweight. It’s a bit part but it’s important.

Gui and Molly have a story and a lesson that’s incredible; I’m the credible sideshow.

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Enter MakerCon

Courtesy of Qualcomm, MakerCon had fabulous facilities, this being our main stage.

Courtesy of Qualcomm, MakerCon had fabulous facilities, this being our main stage.

For two years we ran the Hardware Innovation Workshop in the Bay Area and New York, both just before Maker Faire. Our focus was on the emerging niche of Maker Pros, makers who matured a hardware product and wanted to go to market. Since then many emerging niches have surfaced so to recognize and embrace this we recast HIW as MakerCon.

While the name has changed and the focus has broadened, our core mission has remained the same. We want to be the pre-Maker Faire forum where leaders can interact. Each year we plan to shine a light on the important emerging themes of the maker movement, invite a myriad of experts to present, and provide ample opportunity to meet, interact with, and begin collaborations with people of like minds.

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Making a Maker Campus

What's the big deal about "making"?

What’s the big deal about “making”?

Often when maker communities become aware of one another they begin to collaborate. That’s a concept I’ve seen play out many time, most recently in San Diego after our Mini Maker Faire. Harnessing this insight and being deliberate with its development can lead to great things. This idea has led to the Making a Maker City symposium at MakerCon and Making a Maker Campus which debuted this past week at Oregon State University.

The kickoff at OSU was my speech entitled “What’s the big deal about Making?
My talk argued that OSU should capitalize on the Maker Movement. Making provides an opportunity to develop tacit learning skills, teaches collaboration and fosters a healthy creative community. Students graduating from such a university will be more employable and will have the ability to remain valuable employees. However, my speech was just the start of a process. Continue reading

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