World Maker Faire

Well, Maker Faire was certainly all it’s cracked up to be. The energy of the movement is tangible, and the variety of the things people are doing is truly vast. There are definitely themes running through the Maker movement, and many involve technology in a variety of ways. Many of the more surprising examples are those that are simply low-tech. Like this shaggy knitted car cover or the fish bicycle:

There were definitely some themes. Anything with LEDs is cool. (But that goes without saying.) Danger is celebrated, and anything that can belch fire is icing on the cake. Hand crafts are on equal par with electronics; there were as many people learning to knit and crochet as there were people learning to solder, and of all ages and genders.

As far as technology goes, I loved the booth from NYC Resistor, especially the prepared piano and the hacked slot machine they had set up. I also managed to hear a talk from the creator of the Arduino announcing the newest Arduino board, the Arduino Uno (he claimed he was doing English speakers a favor by choosing an easy-to-pronounce name this time). The board looks pretty interesting, especially the feature that allows it to identify itself to the computer as anything from a USB keyboard to a joystick. May be useful for helping us make more probes and sensors available to collect data directly into the browser. Three-dimensional printing was another big theme – it has definitely arrived. Makerbots cost about $1500 and a few days of your own time, though one person I spoke to said that a much better version was available from China for about $3000, and was very sturdy and impressive. Most impressive to me is the range of what can be printed now. Entire cookies with special hidden messages? Cheese? Concrete? Ice? (But they have to put the entire 3-D printer in the freezer to do it…)

And the intricacy of some, including the 3-D direct printing of metal, is very impressive.

The day ended with the chariot race, a kind of Burning Man meets Berlin’s Love Parade, and very much representative of the ethos of the whole Faire.

So now we get ready for the education conference part, discussing how education could leverage all this energy and enthusiasm in great ways. More to come from that, and more Maker Faire videos and highlights as I process them.

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