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.

Continue reading

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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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Makerspaces at 3D Printer World

Makerspaces = smart tools + open source + collaboration in a workspace!

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

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Maker Faire Sponsorship

SDMMF's Premier Sponsor

SDMMF’s Premier Sponsor

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

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Santas go Surfing

Santas go Surfing on Coronado Beach

Santas go Surfing on Coronado Beach

Part of why this is so strange is that it’s my first Christmas in paradise and seeing people surf on Christmas Eve day is still novel. Trained beach lifeguards gather at 9:00 AM and hit the water in waves. That it’s not so notable to the locals goes to show you how new we are to the area because the surfing crowd easily outnumbered the spectators.

However, you too can gawk with us here.  Continue reading

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San Diego Central Library Opens

SDMMF Booth at the Library Opening Event

SDMMF Booth at the Library Opening Event

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

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Hardware Innovation at SD Tech Week


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.

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A Family of Four

Courtney & Kelsey

When we moved to Coronado it was the first time we’d structured our lives around a house with no kids. Courtney is off working for ICF International in Fairfax, VA and Kelsey is a college student attending UCSD in La Jolla, CA. Our last chapter had ended. Our new chapter had begun. However we certainly expect new chapter to be written.

For now, it’s a wonderful occasion when both girls visit which they did for nine days.

Until grandkids come along, we’ll be very happy when ever this happens.

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Library Leadership Conference

My recurring theme, getting makerspaces into the key learning institutions of society.

My recurring theme is getting makerspaces into the key learning institutions of society.

When I can present my ideas to an audience which can make a difference, it’s worthwhile. Such was the case at ILEAD USA, a nine month-long program with 28 teams of library leaders from five states. My goal was to provide the background for modern making and then place it in the context of a library. I also spoke of participatory learning, models for implementation and proposed projects which could facilitate making in libraries.

As of this writing, one of five projects has been taken-on. An Illinois team is working with Instructables and the American Library Association to tailor a projects database to meet library needs. I can hardly wait to see what comes from the collaboration!

My speeches in their entirety can be seen here:

Of course, I can’t drive from Chicago to Springfield without soaking up Route 66.

This was the perfect blend of work and play!

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