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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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
Smart tools are a key ingredient of the maker movement. 3D printers get more buzz than any other smart tool. It only makes sense then that makerspaces would be a big theme at 3D Printer World Expo. I had the pleasure of sharing my experiences with an audience in Burbank and finished by promising links they’d find useful. Here they are! Continue reading
Maker Faires cost money. Big or small, being able to fund your operation is very important and raising money doesn’t rank anywhere among the “fun to do activities” list of Maker Faire, unless perhaps last. Still, being able to pay your bills and emerging without debt makes this a critical undertaking. So what did we learn from our experience in San Diego? Continue reading
Today was symbolically and practically an important day for making in San Diego. The new Central Library opened and the Maker Faire team participated in the celebration with a booth. The building, its resources and its programs all represent the dawn of a new age.
The old library was your classic “shooshing library”. It was all about books, quiet, and shared computers for Internet access. The new library stands in stark contrast. Not only is it amazing architecture, it contains new things and does new things. This library has 3D printers, a media studio, a teen makerspace, and classes on such things as Auduino and Raspberry Pi. It will have a coffee bar and has a juice bar for kids. There’s so much new and different that it’s hard to believe the two libraries are in any way related. Continue reading
The tech scene in San Diego is relatively healthy I’m learning. However, I’m finding that software is the predominant theme: web services, mobile apps, etc. Open software is in good shape; open hardware not so much. With all the making talent in San Diego you’d think there’d be more hardware innovation taking place.
Enlightened San Diego Tech Week seems willing to give hardware a try. With urging and support from FabLab San Diego a Hardware Innovation session was slipped into the week’s agenda. Modeled after Pitches with Prototypes of MAKE Magazine’s Hardware Innovation Workshop we presented a hardware agenda to software folk at EvoNexus.
Acting as MC I kicked things off with the Open Hardware Revolution, providing context for what was coming and explaining why hardware innovation was something worthy of their attention. We followed with presentations from seven innovators and finished with a show-and-tell of a dozen hardware products.
The road is long but this was another step forward in San Diego.