Archimedes NorCal Maker Garage

SALMON ELEPHANT PIE Becoming ludicrous: an instructional manual.

Controlling the arms of a giant metal squid!

Maker Faire 2016: Receiving

Maker Faire

Maker Faire is the mecca for Makers.  We make every Monday, most summer and winter breaks, and on weekends.  We just love to Make Things.  So Maker Faire is an amazing place to go and see what other people have been making all year.  Just looking, asking, watching, and receiving creativity.

The best part of Maker Faire is the total mix of creativity.  The computer-based projects are inside a building, and right outside are hula hoopers, bubbles, and steampunk displays.  Across the path is a building full of homestead projects: organic gardening, crop cycling using chicken poop as natural fertilizer, and gardening container art.  The fire-breathing welded dragon is a perennial favorite. The weekend of Maker Faire is a yearly pilgrimage for us, and part of the reason is the divine combination of art, engineering, technology, and science.

This year, there was a markedly smaller number of artists threaded throughout.  Steampunk was almost impossible to find.  The number of Internet of Things-based projects in one of the tech buildings was almost overwhelming: it was almost half of the outer rim projects, and none of the projects were cardboard-and-duct-tape, or marble run, or anything except computer-based projects.  In addition, it had a feeling of almost frenzy about it.

Generating electricity by biking.

Generating electricity by biking.

It felt as though the excitement and energy of the tech projects (which are very cool) had all but pushed out the DIY projects of yesteryears (they didn’t, they were just located elsewhere, but far away and not intermixed).  I love technology, but it cannot exist in a bubble.  I hope next year’s Maker Faire includes more blended art, music, and imagination-based presenters.

Like many things in the Silicon Valley, the pursuit of technology at all costs has pushed out other parts of humanity with a tremendous lack of enlightened self-interest: skyrocketing housing prices, evictions of established locals to make room for the tech boom, and a remarkable inability to understand the value of silly, soft, and quiet.  Our favorite exhibit is a prime example.

My younger son eagerly dragged me by the arm into the building with all the light-based exhibits, which was dark.  At one end of the building was an open construction: mats on the floor beneath an umbrella-shaped structure.  Above it was a suspended set of LED lights in a star-shaped board.  To participate, you removed your shoes and laid down on the soft mat in the dark.  Your eyes were met with soft colors and abstract patterns, and your ears suddenly tuned into the classical music over the noise.  Soft, quiet, and beautiful, we stayed at that exhibit for almost half and hour.  Neither of us wanted to move.  We finally left as the line for the exhibit grew and grew, and ambled outside so relaxed we nearly fell over.  We ached to go back, but neither of us would admit it.  Instead we went to see bubbles, plants, and water – all of the things that touched our senses.  (Guess where that project had been?  Burning Man.  Of course.)

The best technology isn’t just about making our lives easier, cheaper, and faster.  It’s about making our lives better, richer, and more fulfilling.

makeyourselfWe love Maker Faire.  We will be back next year at the crack of dawn.  But my own dawning realization is that this year, my own projects will be substantially more human.


Candace • May 24, 2016

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