O N EARTH DAY WEEKEND, APRIL 22-23, their minds, but it really worked, if you know what I
2006, more than 20,000 people descended mean. If you can imagine it, you can make it.
on the San Mateo Fairgrounds in California The true delight of Maker Faire was that you
to experience MAKE’s first annual Maker Faire, a could talk to makers of any age, and see the proj-
combination science fair, craft fair, and celebration ects and parts spread out on the workbenches,
of DIY creativity. Over 300 makers showed off their but you could also see the projects play out in their
projects, including advanced water rocketry, auto- minds. When you met makers, big or small, you
nomous robots, homemade chainmail, biodiesel could see the spark in their eyes and you could have
processing systems, potato cannons, wind-powered a wonderful conversation. Maker Faire brought all
generators, birdhouses, cameras obscura, steam- kinds of people together, exploring kindred ideas in
powered computers, plywood furniture, RFID science, engineering, art, and craft.
implants, fire-breathing trampolines, and much more. An authentic experience is defined by active
During Maker Faire, members of the media participation. The process of designing and making
repeatedly asked me the same question: “How do something requires a high level of engagement; it
you account for the resurgence of interest in DIY?” requires that you learn to do something and stay
My answer was that DIY is fun; it’s satisfying and engaged until you’ve accomplished it. When we
rewarding to make things yourself and share those buy something, we choose to be less engaged, and
things with others. There’s even a long tradition of DIY the experience itself is diminished, just as when we
technology. And the internet makes it easier to share choose to eat fast food rather than cook something
knowledge, as well as pictures, of what you’ve created. for ourselves. When you make something, you create
However, now that the first Maker Faire is behind a story, also of your own making, which can be
us, I’ve come up with an additional answer. The new shared easily with others. It’s a genuine expression
interest in DIY is more than just fun; it’s part of a of yourself and of your own ingenuity. It’s something
deeper search for authentic experiences, some- you know to be true and something others can trust.
thing our contemporary culture just doesn’t offer Perhaps what we’re seeing is that DIY is a sus-
enough of. Maker Faire was highly engaging. Unlike tained effort to re-make and re-take popular culture.
so many tech events, there was no one sitting in Can we return pop culture to its roots as an authentic
a corner with a computer checking email or IMing form of personal expression? Can we rediscover the
someone. Everyone was fully present, in body and creative spirit that exists in everyone?
spirit, kids and adults alike. There are lots of makers, and once you begin
At Maker Faire, I talked to several youngsters who to discover them, you realize they are all around
were carrying things they made at one of the many you — in your neighborhood or even in your own
workshops. One boy, who had made a cardboard house. We certainly hope Maker Faire inspired a
crank-toy with a twisted pipe cleaner on top, said, whole lot of people to see themselves as makers.
“Look at my satellite.” A pair of brothers had made Because DIY is about more than using tools and
two assemblages out of old laptops and springs; making things. It’s about creating a culture based
one built a robot and the other made a controller on authentic experiences, not manufactured ones.
to give orders to the robot. “This talks to that,” one We hope you’ll join us at the next Maker Faire.
of them said. This robot system only worked in —Dale Dougherty