The following was originally going to feature in my book OPEN: How We’ll Work, Live & Learn In The Future. The editing process put paid to that, but I think there’s a lot to be learned from the Maker Movement:
“The disruption caused by the financial crash of 2008 may have been painful, even traumatic. But it may end up being worth it if the growth that replaces perpetual economic growth is a personal and spiritual growth. The New Jerusalem is less likely to be filled with material comforts, and more likely to be about rediscovering our innate creativity, and our better selves.
Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the resurgence of interest in ‘making’. It’s been dubbed the ‘Maker Movement’ and I urge you to learn more about it. In a quiet, slightly-nerdish way, making affords a glimpse of how we can feel confident of our capacity to overcome the challenges facing us. Makers are found in ‘hackerspaces’ where people come together to share skills in everything from soldering, to sewing, to shrimping. You’ll find them in festivals, Maker Faires (sic – as in the French verb ‘to make/do’) all over the globe – from Bogota to Bangalore.
Making’s D-I-Y, open source, hacker ethos is most evident on the ‘Instructables’ website, where you can find out how to make, or do, anything, from building a raised vegetable bed to baking cup cakes. A ‘geek’, now and in the future, is no longer a pejorative term, but a badge of honour. And, now that they’re getting the means of production – the makerbots (3D printers) and the Raspberry Pis (cheap programmable computers) – geeks shall undoubtedly inherit the earth. Or what’s left of it.
Some have written that it’s through the Maker Movement that we in the West will see the renaissance of manufacturing again. When the burgeoning middle class in Asia hike up production costs, there will come a point when it is as cheap (and more environmentally friendly) to source our needs closer to home. Except this time we won’t be ordering from a warehouse storing thousands of identical items: we’ll get it direct from a maker who can make a single item in his garden shed, customised to our precise design. Whether or not the growing legion of makers will generate enough wealth to replace the jobs which have been lost, remains to be seen, but to see the Maker Movement in terms of financial viability isn’t really the point. This growing army of hobbyists is in it for the love of creating things, and the sheer joy of learning new skills from others – any monetary reward is merely a bonus, not the raison d’être.
The making phenomenon is the latest incarnation of the Open Learning Revolution. Makers are a peerless example of the spirit of the commons, valuing reciprocity and generosity and offering hope and affirmation that no matter how complex and unpredictable our future may be, we’ll be all right, so long as we stay committed to sharing all that we know.”