"A third industrial revolution is stirring—the Maker era" Kevin Kelly writes in the introduction to “Cool Tools.”
According to Kelly, we are in a new era centred around the democratization and decentralization of the means of production. A laptop, a desktop 3D printer, and access to an open sourced library of millions of models is all you need to make almost whatever you want. The proof is in the numbers - In 2006, 22,000 people attended Maker Faires around the world, according to Make magazine. In 2017, global attendance reached 1.6 million. You can now find makerspaces in school and city libraries around the world, as well classrooms, civic buildings and city parks -Sylvia Martinez.
2019 European Maker Fair, Rome - image retrieved from Code Motion
Maker culture encompasses more than 3D printing, that's according to Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson who states “If you love to plant, you’re a garden Maker. Knitting and sewing, scrap-booking, beading, and cross-stitching—all Making.” It’s more about cultivating the attitude of learning and tactically doing something on your own. Learning while doing, or constructivism, is a technique traditionally used heavily by craftsmen to train their apprentices. We have pushed constructivism aside in favour of theoretical or knowledge-based learning - through understanding concepts, histories, and processes in classroom settings removed from the real life application of the teachings.
Desktop 3d printer - image retrieved from Shutter Stock
This has coincided with the digitization of our day to day lives and the emphasis on computer-based learning and work that remains the benchmark of a ‘good’ job. The yearning for creating things has remained within us. The feeling I personally get from making something, however small it is, cannot be matched by creating a really good slide deck for example. The urge to create, and indeed to claim ownership of that creation, is a fundamental component of the human condition.
Making something that starts virtual but quickly becomes tactile and usable in the everyday world is satisfying in a way that pure pixels are not. - Evgeny Morozov
The push towards a fully digital life while harbouring our human condition to create is one of the reasons behind the spark of a renewed interest in making that has ushered in the new era Kelly mentioned. The following is a brief overview of other factors that have inspired this movement:
Individual aspirations, networking, social capital: communities are made as people bond over the shared passion of making things. If you have ever entered a maker space, you would understand. These are collaborative spaces filled with creative and passionate people helping each other solve problems and make things. Online communities are equally as strong, filled with open sourced file sharing of models ready for 3D printing or DIY enthusiasts sharing tips and tricks.
Sustainability: mass production of low quality products means we can buy more stuff for cheaper. Making things yourself avoids participating in such economies of scale.
Reclaiming a forgotten past: something we have talked about a lot at Hello Jack - the shared sentiment of reinvesting in old world techniques and practices after generations of forward thinking.
Thirst for authenticity: after being inundated with fast fashion and fast furniture (Ikea, Zara, etc.), there is a growing passion for individual expression and customization.
Side-hustles: due to economic uncertainty and online marketplaces making it easier than ever to market ourselves, maker culture is exploding. Take etsy for example - a site that was born out of DIY crafters selling things they make.
Baby boomers: as they are getting older, retiring, having lots of tools, time - they are also turning back to crafts.
The digital natives are starting to hunger for life beyond the screen. -Chris Anderson.
Hello Jack was born from a convergence of the marker movement and a need to value our elders. It will provide a perfect synergy of bringing an audience hungry for authentic expression and making together with people who are skilled and experienced. Online resources and social media are great tools for open-sourced learning, however peer-to-peer skill exchanges are way more effective and engaging.