play · Social

Innovation, Education, and Making stuff

I am so excited to share! My friends Janine and Willow were quoted as part of a workshop this past week about the Maker culture that has been growing dramatically over the past ten years and is really starting to bloom. My friends are part of the Jigsaw Renaissance, based in Seattle. The article appeared on the O’Reilly Radar article (excerpt below, with my friend’s quote in bold):

From a social perspective, vibrant communities are organizing around projects, technologies, and physical places. For example, one community called DIYDrones has developed a $500 unmanned aerial vehicle using open source chip sets and gyroscopes. Hacker Spaces and Maker Spaces are springing up around the country — like Jigsaw Renaissance in Seattle, which seeks to encourage:

Ideas. Unfiltered, unencumbered, and unapologetically enthusiastic ideas. Ideas that lead to grease-smeared hands, lavender sorbet, things that go bang, clouds of steam, those goggle-marks you see on crazy chemistry geeks, and some guy (or girl) in the background juggling and swinging from a trapeze … Walk through our door with an open mind, and you are liable to be whisked off your feet and into a project you’d never have thought up. We encourage communal learning, asking questions, and pushing that red button. Go on. Do it. If you stick around long enough, you’ll end up being the one creating projects and doing the 3-2-1 countdown for some new toy. Which is exactly what we hope will happen.

Technologically — we are moving towards what MIT‘s Neil Gershenfeld has called personal fabrication. Consider how Moore’s Law has enabled the transition from the expensive and remote mainframe to the personal computer to the smartphone that fits in your pocket to the Internet of things. We are seeing the same phenomena with the dramatic reduction in the cost of the tools needed to design, make and test just about anything — including $1,200 3D printers, CAD tools, machine tools, sensors, and actuators. Remember the replicator from Star Trek? It’s rapidly moving from science fiction to science fact. What will happen as we continue to democratize the tools needed to make physical objects that are smart, aware, networked, customized, functional, and beautiful? I have absolutely no clue — but I am confident that it will be awesome. As one maker put it, “The renaissance is here, and it brought ice cream.”

Economically — we are seeing the early beginnings of a powerful Maker innovation ecosystem. New products and services will allow individuals to not only Design it Yourself, but Make it Yourself and Sell it Yourself. For example, Tech Shops are providing access to 21st century machine tools, in the same way that Kinkos gave millions of small and home-based business access to copying, printing, and shipping, and the combination of cloud computing and Software as a Service is enabling “lean startups” that can explore a new idea for the cost of ramen noodles.

Makers are also becoming successful entrepreneurs. Dale just wrote a compelling story about Andrew Archer — the 22-year-old founder of Detroit-based Robotics Redefined. As a teenager, Andrew started off entering robotics competitions and making printed circuit boards on the kitchen table. He is now building customized robots that transport inventory on the factory floors of auto companies. With more entrepreneurs like Andrew — we could see a bottom-up renaissance of American manufacturing.

The article even goes on to talk about why the Obama Administration is behind DIY-ers and Makers. Exciting stuff! Read the whole article on O’Reilly Radar.

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