Since our posting schedule cycles through four people, some months we are left with a fifth Monday to fill. Thus was born our Fifth Monday post series in which the MakerBridge bloggers write on the same topic. This week, we answer the question, “What does maker culture mean to you?”
For me, maker culture is all about connecting with family and friends. My family is always making things! Every time I went to my grandma’s house when I was little, she had my sisters and cousin and me all baking pies or doing some sort of needlecraft. She and my mom taught me to sew, both my parents taught me to cook, my dad shared his love of making music and helped me learn to write, and my grandpa taught me how to draw (or tried to). Later on, several friends helped me learn to write computer code. I can’t separate any of those activities from the people who taught them to me and learned them with me; it’s all tied up in who I am.
Maker culture also emphasizes owning the culture we’re part of. I can make a sweater that fits me, instead of buying a sweater that fits some imaginary person whose proportions are definitely not mine. On a larger scale, I can help to write software that meets the needs of my library, instead of watching my colleagues struggle to shoehorn our workflows into a one-size-fits-someone-else commercial product. When I make things, I make those things work for me, instead of feeling like I’m working for them.
Even when I’m ripping my hair out over a project, it feels good to be creating something new and leaving my mark on the world. The people who understand that satisfaction and share it with their family, friends, students, whoever–I would call those people part of maker culture.
Of all the contributors at MakerBridge, I’m probably the least involved in formal maker culture (if anything about maker culture is formal!). I’ve never been very adept at “making” physical objects and my attempts at crafting usually end in glitter everywhere – more so than usual! I am, however, adept at finding resources and connecting people to those resources, which I believe is a fundamental and necessary aspect of maker culture.
To me, “making” is creating, anything! You can make physical objects, such as robots, but I also believe that virtual making – developing, graphic design, etc., counts too. If you use a tool to bring what you imagine to life, you’re engaged in the act of creation, which is all making is, really.
One of the best things about maker culture is the direct connection between concept and reality. I remember despising math (I still do, let’s be honest) partially because it didn’t come easily to me and partially because very little of it beyond arithmetic seemed applicable to me every day life. Maker culture is helping make education applicable to real life, which is a key piece to get students to care about school and their education beyond that hazy “someday” when each student is on their own.
Maker culture takes human imagination and curiosity, mixes in resources and human connections, and finally gives a tangible effect and control on daily life.
Maker culture to me is about freedom and about the joy of problem solving. I have always been the type of person who needs to experiment in order to learn something well. When I was younger, I picked apart the source code of websites to learn how they worked, teaching myself web design skills in the process. Whenever I read instructions about how to do something–whether it’s a recipe, directions for making a craft, or even the booklet of rules for a board game–I find myself getting impatient, just wanting to dive in and start trying things, learning as I go. This type of hands-on process of figuring things out is what I see at the center of maker culture, and I think it can be a highly effective way of gaining new skills and having great experiences.
Like Emily, I also see a lot of value in maker culture’s ability to break away from mass-produced items. I think this helps a lot by letting us move away from a disposable consumer culture in which we buy cheap, identical products that are easily thrown away and replaced the minute they break. Instead, we can actually invest in the self-created products we own, and makers will know (or figure out) how to repair them if they break. Maker culture helps us gain a lot more control over the things we use and how we choose to use them.
Let us know what maker culture means to YOU in the comments below, or tweet us @makerbridge!