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San Mateo, CA
Maker Faire Rejuvenates

By TJ McCueThursday, May 22, 2014
3D, Consumer, Scanning

Nothing quite restores your soul like seeing kids in all their glory, running around full of wonder and excitement. Maker Faire brings that out in force -- filling people to the brim with laughter and joy. More practically, it opens up one’s eyes to what’s possible.

My first visit to the famous Bay Area Maker Faire served as a powerful reminder of how making, creating, designing, building, and even some deconstruction are essential nourishment, so to speak. Before you think I am only waxing poetic, consider the growth of Maker Faire and some of the trends to which it points. In its ninth year, Maker Faire Bay Area had:

  • 900+ makers
  • 120,000+ attendees
  • 90+ sponsors
  • In 2013, there were over 100 mini Maker Faires
  • Economic boost: "Makers pump some $29 billion into the economy each year." USA Today, Oct 2013

My friend, Jeremiah Owyang, shared that last statistic in a post earlier this year: Maker Movement and 3D Printing: Industry Stats. In the post, he lists many other useful data points that remind us that part of the reason the maker trend is so big, so vast is because it pulls people together.

As someone who has been part of this trend and written about it quite often, in my humble opinion, it is related to why Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, and other "third places" have grown rapidly in popularity – because we crave community and a common purpose. Many makerspaces emerge from this desire of "kindred spirits" to come together around something more that is more than just a hobby – for many it becomes a business or way of life.

In 2011, I was part of a team that organized Washington State’s first mini Maker Faire, in Poulsbo (just outside of Seattle) called KitsapMaker. In that first year, we pulled in over 1,000 people from our small communities, and over and over we heard parents telling us (the organizers) that this new type of fair was essential to our area. The mayor wanted us to do it again, bigger and better. Area makers and creators still contact us regularly to ask when and where area makers are gathering. Several groups spawned out of that first fair and continue to educate kids (and adults). We’ve watched area libraries grab hold of the idea and lobby for makerspaces.

At this year’s Faire, I spent time talking to a number of influential makers – from TechShop CEO Mark Hatch, Eric Stackpole of OpenROV, and Inventables founder, Zach Kaplan who each had ideas on how and why making is changing the world. I’ll have a video to share soon.

As a water guy myself I have been following the work of the OpenROV founders, Eric Stackpole and David Lang captivate the explorer in us – their open source submersible gives you a way to explore one of the last great frontiers – undersea environments, at an affordable price.

While #3DRV is not solely focused on makers, it certainly includes the maker community. The maker community is going and growing strong, so our goal is to raise awareness among other communities – designers, inventors, small business owners, manufacturers, creators of all types, that there are new tools, new ways to build, to make and create. We felt that Maker Faire Bay Area would be the ideal place to launch the 3DRV roadtrip because the maker community is supportive, encouraging, and wants to pull more people "into the fold," if you will.

The whole idea of people coming together to make and build things is certainly not new. But in 2010, the Harvard Business Review blog network had a post from John Hagel III, John Seely Brown and Lang Davison to explore how DIY (do-it-yourself) was moving to "even more powerful forms of Do It Together (DIT), pulling together larger numbers of diversified and talented individuals to more and more rapidly innovate and drive new levels of performance on a continuing basis." It isn’t just that we come together, but that we have access to amazing and more powerful tools when we do.

So that’s the power that you see manifesting itself at Maker Faires around the world – something more than DIY alone -- people coming together (DIT) to have fun and, in the process, to create something that has more than fun in its potential. I like the idea of DIT more than DIY because no one truly builds something alone. We’re all the sum of the minds and work that have come before us, influenced us, and surrounded us. #3DRV is about finding those connections, that fusion of people and community.

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RoadTrip Up: Next Tuesday night, in Portland, Oregon, we’re holding a meetup at ADX – a thinker and makerspace – if you’re in the area, check out the 3DRV.com site for details.

We'll be talking about 3D printing, scanning, and we’ll have Autodesk’s Dominique Pouliquen, an expert on "Reality Computing." It is a relatively new idea, a high level concept that integrates the digital and physical worlds, bringing together many products and technologies to digitally capture existing conditions (laser scanning, photogrammetry, depth cameras, UAVs) – it promises to be a fun few hours! I also believe we may have a cool Stratasys 3D Printer there as well as some new Faro scanners that area professionals are bringing to the meetup. Join us – you can RSVP here.

We'll also be doing similar meetups around the USA, so if you’d like to host one in a big way, get in touch. You can find TJ McCue on Twitter to open the conversation.

Follow along at 3drv.com! #3DRV

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