Guest Post: The MAKE Movement a.k.a. Do-It-Yourself (DIY)
Today’s guest blogger is Justin Tomac. Justin is involved in the Maker movement that I thought it would be a nice follow to manufacturing week last week. Justin is an immersive learner and maker, with an entrepreneurial mindset who’s diverse background and experiences tend to show in his passion for developing and improving people, processes and products. When not plotting his next move, Justin resides in the greater Kansas City Metropolitan area with his continuously growing family of soon to be Seven children. He sits on the Advisory Board for the Kansas City Manufacturing Network as well as the Board of Directors for Make KC and is leading the planning for the 2011 Kansas City Mini Maker Faire.
I would like to introduce the Beyond Lean readership to a trend that is rapidly growing commonly called the MAKE movement. MAKE is actually the name of a magazine which provides stories and plans for Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY). MAKE is published by O’Reilly publishing and is an attempt to bring together science, art, craft, engineering and music.
This article will be referring to the MAKE Movement, which is about the intersection of Art & Technology. The Movement consists primarily of Makers, i.e. those who create, invent, hack or re-purpose items for some useful function. Some distinguishing charactericstics of a Maker are a DIY & Safety Third (i.e. Dream the Big Dream, Understand the Risks & Use Safety Precautions) mindset coupled with a boundaryless curiousity and strong desire to learn. Most are self starters and would venture to say are entrepreneurs at heart. In my opinion, the Maker epitomizes what the United States manufacturing was founded upon and has fostered for the past 225+ years, in some ways you can say it is the foundation that helped build the USA into a dominant World Power.
The MAKE movement is visible in several ways. One way is through local DIY or MAKE groups, some of which are called HackerSpaces. These spaces have grown from just a Dozen or so in 2006 to 100+ in 2010. The growth is attributed to a Second way called a Maker Faire. This is where Makers (both technology and craft) meet to show to any and all, what they have created, invented or re-purposed. Shared Learnings and Immersive Interactions are typically what a Maker Faire attendee would expect. This blends well with what most Makers believe and promote, which is ‘Open Source’ sharing and learning. What is the sense of making or ‘hacking’ something if you cannot share what you have learned is a typical comment voiced. It is the openness that most would agree is the Power of this grass roots movement. ‘Hacking’ here is referenced as a way Makers are learning, testing or using a product in different ways then the intended use. Some may call it ‘tinkering’, irregardless of what you call it the outcome is usually interesting and most times an incremental improvement over what it was. For most companies this may be seen as a threat (i.e. think reverse engineering), some companies are actually using this to their advantage by offering products that can be ‘hacked’. In studying this you find these companies are really using the Makers and the Movement as a way of Rapid Prototyping and very cost effective forms of Product Development. In my opinion, this is where most manufacturers may find some interest, along with some really cool ideas for product. Since most Makers do this as a hobby in their spare time, primarily because their ‘cup’ at work is not being filled (think underutilized intellect), and for the love of learning they have and can offer their expertise for some ‘moonlighting’ fees. In my opinion, this is a true win-win.
Becoming involved in this Movement is quite simple. Here are two suggestions:
1) Find your local MAKE or HackerSpace group and begin to make things either there or at home. Use the imagination of a young child and then do it. Once you begin, it is hard not to look at something without wondering how you can re-purpose it. For ideas check out www.hackaday.com or www.instructables.com. Along with MakeZine, these sites have a lot of low cost great ideas.
2) Attend a Maker Faire (either one of the Three Main National Events or a local Mini Maker Faire), become inspired and do-it-yourself. If you are a CEO/COO or Innovation Leader check out the Faire or local group and see what makes sense to your category or line then leverage it. For example, within the next 5 – 10 years every household will own a 3-Dimensional Printer (i.e. a printer that has the ability to replicate a product in 3D using a material) for items that have broken and need to be re-made or for items that are dreamt of. The Price Barrier has been significantly reduced from a 2006 price tag of $25,000+ to a 2010 tag of $750 (www.makerbot.com). With this type of technology the homemaker has now become the rapid prototyping queen of tomorrow.
My fascination with this Movement was re-kindled a year ago. My kids and wife have enjoyed the time spent together making crafts and learning certain types of technology. Talk about some low budget, quality family time! I encourage each of you to explore this movement. Chances are you will be surprised at what you learn!