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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

The Future of The Maker Movement

Dale Dougherty, President and CEO of Maker Media, Inc.
New York, NY
February 19, 2013

State Dept Image/Feb 19, 2013/New York, NY
Date: 02/19/2013 Location: New York, NY Description: Dale Dougherty, President and CEO of Maker Media, Inc., briefs at the New York Foreign Press Center on ''The Future of The Maker Movement.'' - State Dept Image

4:30 P.M. EST


MODERATOR: I’m Alyson Grunder, the Director of the New York Foreign Press Center. We are delighted this afternoon to catch Dale Dougherty while he’s in town for Social Media Week. And as you know from all the information we’ve been sending you, Dale has been called the father of the Maker Movement. He is the founder of Make magazine, and also of the Maker Faires. The Maker Movement is a trend that is very new to me, but I know some of you have been following it for a long time. And so I’m going to step aside and let Dale take it from here. Before we begin, please do note that Dale is speaking on his own behalf, and is not representing the views of the U.S. government.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Good, thank you very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Dale.

MR. DOUGHERTY: We’ll see if that’s all right with everyone. I’m going to be pretty informal – I don’t have slides. I thought we would just talk, and feel free to interrupt me and ask questions. I’ll pass around some examples. This is our current issue of Make magazine, and I think the things you can probably tell from the cover there is someone having fun. Largely this is about an enthusiast community, people that do things because they love what they’re doing. It’s the root word of amateur is to love something, and these are largely amateurs playing with technology in fun ways.

This is another. It’s a special issue we did on 3D printers, and so there are some core technologies that the community uses and really personal 3D printers are one I understand you’re going to be visiting Maker bought tomorrow. There’s – in the last two years about 16 different models or companies producing 3D printers, and so we last fall reviewed them and put them together in a buyer’s guide. So let me just send these around and you can flip through them. Thank you.

So I started Make magazine in 2005 and the sort of key idea was just that – how many of you know the word “hacker”? It’s often used negatively, but we – a lot of use it positively as people that hack things to change them, to make them work. We usually use it in software. And the original idea was that people would start hacking the physical world the way they were hacking software, to modify it, change it, customize it, personalize it, things like that; that you’d look at a room and say, “Well, how do I control the lights in here? How do I control my car? Where are the preferences menu for the things on my car? Why can’t I change these things?” We’re being taught from computers that things can be changed, and in a sense we want to argue that we should be given more ability to change things and take more control. So hackers are people that want to take control of their own devices and open them up and take them apart.

And so the idea was that hackers were hobbyists, hobbyists in the sense that they play with technology, they like to figure out what it’s good for, what they get to do with it. And they don’t often know why they’re doing it. They’re just – they’re enjoying it. It’s how they meet other people and it’s – they do projects. So I started Make as a kind of a technology magazine that was organized around projects and used the word DIY because DIY is used in magazine publishing for categories like food and cooking – I mean, food and woodworking and other things. You buy those magazines because you do that thing; you like to cook or you like to garden. So I wanted to do something for people who like technology.

When I had the idea, I went back and looked at old magazines from the early 20th century like Popular Mechanics and Popular Science, and they were magazines that were written, I think, in the same spirit of these are fun things to do, sometimes to be resourceful, sometimes to improve something around the house. And I wanted to model the spirit of those magazines. And while they’re still around, they have become less about what you can do and more about something like what the Defense Department might be doing or some large corporation. I wanted to bring it back to this is fun stuff that you get to do and you want to do.

So we started that in 2005 and it seemed to strike a chord in that. I named it Make as a general term of – and we began referring to our audience as Makers. And pretty intentionally just sort of obviously came to me as an obvious name for our – who they are. But people seemed to identify themselves as Makers, and that was sort of something almost unexpectedly beautiful about this. And by Maker I mean creator, builder, shaper, producer, someone who’s doing something, right? And we are often, and particularly in America, defined as consumers, not as producers, and I really felt like this was an opportunity to kind of reinvigorate that. Hey, what do I get to do? Or the “can do” spirit, as it’s sometimes called.

So Makers were not just people who used technology, they were people that created technology, they made something. And if you go back in time to the roots of the personal computer revolution, you will find that people like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak belonged to something called the Homebrew Computer Club and they went to a west coast computer fair. But a lot of it was driven by these enthusiasts who got together and they made computers because they wanted a computer. They didn’t know what a computer could be used for, but that was why you needed to have one so you could figure that out.

And if you fast-forward to the day with 3D printers, the same enthusiast community is saying, “Gee, I wonder what I could do with a 3D printer. Like, nobody’s really figured out what you can do with these things. They look fascinating.” And so they dive in trying to figure out. And because the 3D printers were expensive, just like the mainframe computers of the day in the ‘60s and ‘70s, a lot of Makers, like Bre Pettis who you’ll visit tomorrow, got together to say, “Let’s build one of our own. We can build this for a couple thousand dollars or maybe even less than that.” So it’s the same enthusiast impulse of getting together and building something and starting a community of people building that.

So after doing the magazine for a year, in 2006 we launched our first Maker Faire. And the idea was pretty much meeting Makers was really fascinating. They’re interesting people doing things that I think most people weren’t that familiar with. And I thought, well, let’s bring them together; they would enjoy meeting each other and maybe other people would care. I don’t know for sure, but there’s an idea. And we rented a fairgrounds, kind of a rustic space in the San Francisco Bay area, and set it up. And we kind of just were not sure that a lot of people, myself included, knew what a Maker Faire was or it could be, but it was just the idea of bringing like, in a similar way to like a science fair or an art fair, just bring your work, put it on a table, and talk to people about it. And it was really that conversation around Making and seeing someone whose eyes light up when they talk about the thing they love making. That’s what I wanted to focus on.

And it turned out to be very popular. We had about 20,000 people in our first year and I might have thought three or four thousand people would come. And we had crafters, we had food makers, we had robots, we had rockets, and we continue to have that. Last year in the Bay area we had over 110,000 people in two days to Maker Faire, so a pretty good size audience.

It’s about 45 percent families and kids, so it’s something that’s not a usual like a tech event. It’s something that appeals to families just like fairs do, and they come because it’s fun, and they learn I think as a result, but the primary reason is it’s fun.

We began producing other Faires in other cities, and three years ago we started in New York City. I have this card which is kind of the New York dates and the Bay area dates. New York is held in September, this year 21st and 22nd. We’d love to have you come and visit. It’s held out at Queens in the New York Hall of Science and we had about 55,000 people there last year. We had our first rain, which was a little scary as an event producer, but it’s a wonderful event.

And I think what you see are these two dimensions that I want to highlight a little bit is you see sort of grassroots innovation, you see people developing new ideas and new products out of their garages and basements. And I think the other dimension is education, is this is how we learn. We build things, we do things, and we see kids come who want to go home and make stuff. They want to be a Maker. They want to build a robot, they want to build a plane that flies, they want to build soft circuits, a number of different things.

And I’m always impressed by the quality of work that young people show up doing, and often they’re doing this outside of school, they’re doing it in an informal setting, sometimes a club, sometimes on their own. But part of the mission, and maybe I’ll talk about it later, is we want to get more kids engaged as Makers. It’s something that I think if you go back and look at scientists and engineers and you ask them some of the formative things that happened in their lives to become a scientist or an engineer, and they’ll talk about someone – they’ll talk about an experience, they’ll talk about something they did in the back yard. They won’t talk about a textbook or a class they took as much as a person or an experience that they had.

I was reading a story. Robert Noyce is one of the founders of Intel and his – Tom Wolfe wrote a thing in the ‘80s on him. It was called “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce.” And he talks about Noyce as a 13-year-old kid growing up in Iowa. He read an article in Popular Science called “How to Build a Box Kite,” and it was a box kite that could lift a human being off the ground. So he and his brothers thought that was the greatest thing they ever heard of and they set off to build one. And they built it and then they tried to launch it, and with them running along the ground they couldn’t get enough momentum. So like crazy kids, they climbed the barn, and they’re going to jump off the barn and see if the box kite works. And it still didn’t quite work. Then they thought, well, we’ll drag it behind a car and see if we can get lift that way.

But it’s that experience of a project and doing something because it sounds fun and exciting and perhaps a little dangerous that is – if you go back and look at many of these sort of folks, they have that in their background. And I think it’s important that we – it has never been really much available in school, but it was once a little bit more widely available in people’s home life. And I think we need to try to bring that back.

So Maker Faire – the last thing I’ll say about that is in addition to doing the two fairs that we produce, we created the ability for other people to produce fairs. And so we wrote what we call a playbook and a guide to producing fairs so that others who say, “Hey, I want it in Seattle,” or “I want it in Vancouver,” or “I want it in Africa,” that they could do that. And last year we had over 60 independent fairs – or 60 Maker Faires around the world. This year we expect over 100, and about 44 in America, and the rest internationally. I visited – Seoul, Korea had their first Maker Faire this year. And we have – we’ve done – a gentleman, Emeka Okafor, has organized Maker Faire Africa for about four years in different countries in Africa.

And it seems to be taking off that way, of just people want to have it in their community to bring people together, to showcase makers that are in their community, to connect kids and other things to that, and to start this sort of like a localizing of the Maker Movement.

One other thing I’m going to mention to you as a sort of parallel concept is the idea of makerspaces. And so – when I talk about someone like Robert Noyce, who lived in Iowa, they had a barn, they probably had a woodshop. They had lots of tools. A lot of kids today grow up in either suburban or urban settings where they don’t have access to those tools. A lot of adults don’t have access to that. And what we see is the idea of a makerspace as a community workshop. And it might have tools and materials and expertise available to use. Some are set up as – like gym clubs where you pay $100 a month and you have access to the shop and can do anything in there. The high-end version of that is called TechShop, and they’re also known on like a very small level as hackerspaces. But they’re beginning to grow.

Two weekends ago, I was involved in a How to Make a Makerspace workshop, which we held in the Boston area, and we had about 200 people from all parts of the country, and we had a few from Canada and a couple people from Guatemala, looking at how do we set up a makerspace in our area. And this – it was hosted in a place called Artisan’s Asylum, and it’s in Somerville, Massachusetts. And it was formerly the Ames Envelope factory. And, of course, it’s been empty space until they went in there and figured out that they could bring a lot of people there to learn how to do things. They have stalls for various artisans who set up shop there and work out of the space. But those same artisans also teach classes, like in welding or weaving, and help support a broader community.

So it’s kind of the local way of making, when you want to learn how to do something or you’d like to get trained to do something or you want a place to make something. So MAKE Magazine, Maker Faire, and makerspaces, those are kind of three, I think, important drivers of what a number of people are calling the Maker Movement. But I think the idea that I mentioned earlier is – and it’s part of a talk I’ve given – that I really believe that all of us are makers. It isn’t just a few people that are out as geeks or something doing this. This is something that – when I talk to almost anyone, they will talk about a parent, they’ll talk about their childhood, they’ll talk about various ways that they’ve had making in their lives culturally. And it doesn’t have to be technology; it can be a wide range of things.

But it’s important that we celebrate making and that we think of ourselves as not just consumers of technology, but people that are in control of it, that can use technology and use tools to their own purposes to achieve goals that they believe are important, not just sort of do what they’re being told to do.

So I’ll stop there and see if there are any questions or thoughts. I’m really happy to go in any direction. Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I’d make a couple of very elementary questions. Maybe they’re too elementary, I don’t know. I don’t know myself much about it. When you say 3D printing, do you refer to traditional printing, or is it something completely different? That’s the first question. Second question is: I heard about the producing or fabricating things with the automated machines, computerized – is this the same sort of thing, and so there is no defining borderline between the two? And the last thing is: Also I suppose that this way of making fabricating things easier also has an impact on art, not only on technology, so then – but there is a new borderline between art and technology through this machinery. Am I correct in saying so?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yes. Let me start with your first question. 3D printing – it’s a little bit of a stretch to sometimes call it printing, but it – we have a wide range of uses for the word “printer.” When we think of it, there’s two classes of manufacturing that they’re calling additive and subtractive. Subtractive is like a machine that cuts wood away, cuts – carves – takes wood off of something. Like, here’s a block and you carve it out, so this is a sculpt of wood, right? So you’re removing things.

Where 3D printers is an example of additive manufacturing, that you’re building something up. And the way I like to think of it is, have you ever seen cake decorating? How like you have a – you extrude something out, like the icing, and you put it down, and if you wanted to build a row, you do it like this. Well, imagine computer controlling that process of – we’re taking plastic in, we’re melting it, and then it’s putting down very, very small dots at a high resolution in a repeated pattern that’s going around and just doing it again and again and it – the layers build up, and that’s how we get an object. So it’s printing in that sense that it is kind of following a pattern.

And then your second question, really, was about – we kind of often will refer to digital or personal fabrication. And so there can be other tools such as laser cutters which have kind of the same model, that we design something on a computer, like a model or a pattern, and we send it to a machine, and it does the work. So if you think of like the old shop class or something, that you were operating the machine and moving it by hand, well, imagine instead of you doing that, the computer’s telling it, “Here’s the path to follow.” And I imagine even sort of it’s going to go in a square, and then it’s going to jump over and it’s going to do something like that. That’s – so when we think of digital fabrication, we think of like computer machine interfaces. So the computer’s controlling – this one – another type is CNC, or Computer Numerically Controlled machines, which are much older than these. But that is a class of machines used for new kinds of manufacturing.

I think your question about art is a really good one, and actually a sticky one in some ways, because it actually creates new possibilities for art. We’ve had at Maker Faires some – a sculptor designing objects that were made with a 3D printer, but could only be made with a 3D printer. In other words, if – some of the like – one of the things a 3D printer can do is like a chain, where you have two locks, and it can come chained like that rather than two separate pieces, it can actually be printed that way. Or – so she began designing things that – but I think across the Maker Movement, one of the things that we see that I’d kind of – is a dimension or a side of art is a lot of what you see at Maker Faire, is designed to interact with other people. That could be a robot. It could be an interactive installation.

Another technology that’s very popular as a platform in the maker community is something called Arduino, which is produced out of Italy, and it’s a micro controller, a little computer board. And typically it’s taking inputs in, such as like the motion of my hand, it might detect that, and processing that and taking some action output, which could be to make a noise, right, in the simplest kind of input-output fashion. But think about someone – like, we’ve had projects in the magazine. Your cat walks by this thing, and the motion of the cat sends off a monkey that has cymbals, a toy monkey that has cymbals and claps its hands and scares the cat off. So it’s – we see a lot of kind of ways of interacting with people around sort of creative and interesting applications. It could be sound, it could be visual, a lot of different ways, not just sort of the 3D printed model.

QUESTION: Yeah. I have two questions. One is – yeah, sure. Maurita Cardone, I’m an Italian freelancer. One is: I mean, this is great and is surely fascinating, but as an environmental journalist, I’m a little bit concerned about the idea of people producing more stuff and producing quite easily more stuff. Do you think there is any risk of misuse or maybe overuse of this technology? And the second question is: Can you talk a little bit about cost of this technology? I mean, is this something that is available to everybody or it’s going to be available to – soon to an average household? Thank you.

MR. DOUGHERTY: So, let’s see, because you said you’re from Italy, Maker Faire Rome is in October. And I want to point that out.

I think the environmental one – like a lot of things, I don’t think it’s black and white. You can say yes, it’s – people are making more stuff. I think there – part of the maker ethos has also been looking at repair and recycling things. A lot of our technology is meant to be disposed rather than fixed or upgraded. While it’s probably true people are printing stuff – let me take an example of something.

Let’s imagine you needed – this is a little bit futuristic, but still you need a part for a washing machine. That washing machine is old; that part is not made anymore. If that design is online or can be even replicated we can print that out instead of ordering it. And I think some people believe that – although we haven’t seen a lot of evidence that this can lead to other forms of efficient local manufacturing instead of things being shipped at a great distance, I think 3D printing is – we are working mostly with plastic. Some people are beginning to work with some biodegradable plastic, in that you can look at 3D printing metals and other things are possible in industrial-strength machines.

I think it’s like a lot of – I don't know that it’s universally good or universally bad. I think it gives us more options, and I have to believe that’s better for us than just buying more stuff. If we look at the supply chain and where most things are coming from, they also have environmental implications.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yes. The second question was --

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. DOUGHERTY: Oh, how much. So I think like a lot of technology the 3D printers are about $1,000 to $2,000, and some are – you can get some at $500 to $600. I don’t know if you remember like the first laser printers that came out with Apple. They were like $30,000 and then started to decline and now we have $99 printers or less. I think the prices will fall over time. I still think we’re in that phase where – I don’t know if it’s affordable for every home, but a lot of people are beginning to buy one. I think for that next sort of part of the society to start owning them, I think they need more of a reason than they have today to buy them. It’s a toy-like thing today. I don’t think it has great utility.

QUESTION: Christine Mattauch from German Absatzwirtschaft. I visited Maker Faire in September last year and I was really smitten by what I saw. I was – it was incredible. And two questions came to my mind. First of all, to what degree could this movement be a real competition for the normal economy, for the corporate world? And on the other hand, what could the corporate world learn from this movement, from this spirit, this innovation?

MR. DOUGHERTY: That’s great. I have a meeting today with a large – some people that work with a large American manufacturer. And to some degree, they’re looking at what does digital fabrication mean for them, how can they produce things. Even within a large company, those 3D printers, they won’t – they can’t do what I need to do, like producing something in metal or high degree. Someone ends up doing it and showing them, going you’re kidding that – I can do that here instead of ordering that from some other part of the world.

At the same time, the other part of that conversation was how do we get the engineers that work at this company to think like makers, which is what you’re asking of – how do we get them to think creatively, how do we get them to design new things and see that lots of things are possible, when sometimes they’ve been working like in a pipeline environment where they only would do the design and they hand it off to someone else that does the manufacturing? What if they can sort of go from design to manufacturing and back and forth and prototype very quickly?

So I actually think there’s a fusion of – in a sense there’s deep knowledge in some of these companies, but it’s locked up. So how do we open that up? How do we open the connections and sort of make the boundaries a little bit more permeable as we’ve done somewhat in software development between those who are manufacturing goods and – a community of people and the suppliers and everybody else, how do they share more ideas, designs, and things? They still have to make a business out of it, but I think we’ll see more of that happening, more sharing.

MODERATOR: I’ll take your questions.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Please do. Thank you. That’s a good way.

QUESTION: George Szpiro, Swiss newspaper. Two questions. First of all, the definition of 3D printers – it is always additive or could you have a block and have a 3D printer chip away at it, or is that – like you mentioned laser cutters. Is that not considered 3D printing? And the second question is, could you say something about 3D printers creating 3D printers?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah. All right. Well, again, these – the sort of terminology is just really kind of a convenience of additive and subtractive. You could put an extruder head on a CNC machine and have it add or you could replace that with a cutter and it’s doing cutting. But they tend to be different kinds of things.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. DOUGHERTY: Oh, yes. Yeah. I mean, I think it’s exclusively additive, whereas cutters or bits are used more subtractive. I’m trying to – I can’t think of any other example. I mean, pretty much it’s about what kind of head you put on the gantry that’s moving around.

And your last – the second question was – you can see where my memory goes.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR. DOUGHERTY: Oh, oh, oh. Replicating machine.

QUESTION: The printer actually producing a printer and spawning itself?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, Dr. Neil Gurshenfeld at MIT has promoted this idea of machines making machines. In – and one of the early open source projects that led to the personal 3D printers is called RepRap. And it sort of replicator, the idea, and MakerBot – it’s called – it’s generation of machines called replicators. The idea, yes, is technically they could print another version. It doesn’t work. You have a mix of parts and metal and plastic and wood and steel. And it just doesn’t really seem to work. It’s like an academic exercise, that someone could possibly do it, yes, but in practice it’s not what happens. Yeah.

But I’ll tell you the one thing that did – this is exciting for like the MakerBot. And it’s true for most of them. There was an upgrade sent out to them and it was to the mounting brackets on the case. And the design was – I mean, they sent out the design as the upgrade. You were supposed to print out the new brackets and then replace the old brackets. So it’s a little bit of a – like you think of like someone sends out a software upgrade. Well, this is like a hardware upgrade but you printed it out and then replaced the components.

QUESTION: Chi-Fei Fan, TVBS, Taiwan. I don’t want to sound like a party pooper, but the first impression that I have about 3D printing, the first issue that come to my mind is, first of all, is copyrights. Like I think there’s already some issues about it. And then the second thing is how about safety issue. Because I think a graduate student just printed half of gun. I think – I don’t know how advanced the technology nowadays. Could you really like print a gun in your – on your 3D printing machine? And then how – I know that – I mean, invention has no limit, but do we have to put a limit on this?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, I think socially we can ask ourselves those questions. I don’t think – let me just focus on the guns issue. That’s sort of in the press a lot right now. I think the idea that you can control the manufacture of a lot of things is kind of specious. I mean, we can put the law out there, but we might control the production of liquor, right, and it doesn’t take any special – I mean, people build stills and do that and they can make it, but we regulate that they can’t. So I think we just have to figure out where we stand on that. Pipe bombs and other things are made from cheap household materials. We can’t eliminate the pipe bomb except to regulate that people will be arrested if they build one and set one off.

So it does create the possibility of it. There are more toy guns produced this way. I don’t think anything serious is really being done that way, but the high-end industrial printers, I mean, I would say it’s a reality. If they’re able to print jet engines with 3D printers, they’re going to be able to print guns. So it doesn’t – I think the question is: Would you eliminate a class of technology just because that’s possible?

MODERATOR: We’ll go to Makiko.

QUESTION: Hi, Makiko Yamazaki with JiJi Press, Japanese news agency. I just want to know what you thought about President Obama’s technology initiative that he outlined in his Union – State of the Union Address.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Which specific – I mean, I know he mentioned 3D printers in --

QUESTION: Yeah, he also mentioned high-tech center or something.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah. I don’t know a lot about the details. I do know that the Obama Administration has been very supportive of the Maker movement in both as a way that this technology belongs in schools and for kids to learn how to do manufacturing. We had a DARPA grant to do makerspaces in schools that we did a lot of preliminary research on, and it was – we’ve had 15 pilot schools in the Bay Area doing this.

I think there’s a legitimate role for government in terms of supporting this research. I think at the same time, the excitement and the energy is really coming from the grassroots out of the community of what people are doing almost independently for their own reasons, and these things can all balance out. But I’m glad to see, for us, we’re all happy to see that 3D printing was mentioned in the State of the Union Address.

MODERATOR: We’re going to – back to Stephan.

QUESTION: Stephan Alsman, Economics Weekly from Denmark. I want to go a little bit back to what you talked about, manufacturing and how there needs to be a link between the manufacturing side and them wanting to be tinkerers, being makers. And also, I would ask you about the other way around. You’re makers, you’re tinkerers, going into – sort of taking the leap into sort of a more professionalized manufacturing. Is that not part of your ethos? Is it strictly hobbyist or grassroots, or do you see a link from your movement onto --

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah, good question.

QUESTION: -- sort of the formal economy of manufacturing?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah. Well, I think there are a number of examples. I think makers – I think we’re just seeing it at an early stage where it’s dominated by hobbyists. And if you think of it like a triangle or a pyramid, you want lots of hobbyists. And it’s sort of like musicians. You have lots of people playing music and a few superstar musicians at the top, and in between you have various levels of people making money playing music, or playing music just because they do that for fun.

Makers want to, I think, leverage the manufacturing capacity in places, but it’s not always easy for them. Sort of what we’re often thinking about with makers is small-scale manufacturing, so they have a prototype and they might be doing runs of 100 or 1,000 – 100,000. A maker in Detroit told me once that he was so frustrated there because he lived in one of the great manufacturing cities in the world, and yet it was hard to get something made in Detroit. So often there’s not a good interface between makers and manufacturers. I’d like to see that change. I’d like to see makers understand what was available in their community to be able to utilize resources more efficiently. I think it’ll be a key for things like local manufacturing, where – asking a question like “Where could I find someone who does injection molding in my – in a 50-mile radius here?” Right now, a lot of that is still kind of being put together.

But I think – just back to the questions asked up here, I think we’re seeing interest from both sides, from perhaps large manufacturers looking at makers as a source of ideas that might bring new products that they could manufacture, and also makers looking at manufacturers who say they have capabilities that are beyond what I could do myself.


QUESTION: Hi, I’m Daisuke Nakai from Asahi Shimbun. Thank you for your talk. A couple questions: What about makerspaces? Are you making a concentrated effort to have places around the country call themselves makerspaces? Is there any sort of movement? I mean, can it just call itself a workshop or – and --

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah, yeah. I mean, makerspace is like a class word. It’s like the – and Artisan’s Asylum says they’re a makerspace, but their title is that --

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah, so – but my question is, sort of, are you making a concentrated effort to have themselves – call themselves makerspaces? And also, how many – do you have any idea of how many there are at the moment?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, again, there’s hacker spaces and fab labs and tech shops and – I’m using “makerspace” as an umbrella term to enclose them all. I think “makerspace” is emerging as a term that means that, and I started as a bit of a way to get information out about that. It has a directory on there. I think we have up to 80 or something on there. There are – there’s – I think internationally, including hacker spaces, again, of different sizes, it might be a thousand or more. But I think that it’s still kind of early, early in that way.

QUESTION: And my other question: Sorry to go back to the gun issue, but I just was talking to the people with the Wiki Weapon Project a few weeks ago, and basically they are saying that they want to get this new technology and actually use it to level the playing field. They claim to have made actual magazines and parts of a gun that’s actually fire-able, and – I mean, you mentioned that not that much has come out of it, but these people claim that they are making serious efforts and they’re getting funding from somewhere. Any thoughts on that?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah. No, I think the effort is here, it’s – I don’t think the results are yet there. I mean, you’re going to read a lot – I mean, there’s articles about 3D printing livers and organs, and yet – that’s really just way out there yet. The quality probably isn’t there, but as I said, I think we should take it seriously that people will do it, the technology will evolve.

I don’t mean to say that there’s an easy solution to avoiding it. I don’t think you can – you mentioned copyright and other issues. It’s a whole new field of copyright. The internet didn’t stop because there was going to be potential copyright infringement. There was – the little piece I saw today is when you can 3D print a Mickey Mouse character, Disney’s going to object. I mean, you can do that, right? Right now, it’s small potatoes and they’re not going to get in a fight over it, but when they use that washing machine part or car part example, well, what if I’m just taking that part from their catalog and reproducing it myself? Is that really copyright infringement or design or trademark or any kind of issues? I think it’s a really interesting area that will be a cause for conflict in the future.

QUESTION: So you think the governments look at legislation concerning this or --

MR. DOUGHERTY: Not really. (Laughter.) I mean, I think they should watch it, and it’s kind of like the internet. I mean, in some ways, the freedom promotes good things and some bad things. If they’re in reasonable enforce to each other, we’re okay. I don’t think you can eliminate the bad things just by passing a law entirely. Far better for us to find things that are more interesting to print than guns – okay, then just eliminate that. I’m sorry.


QUESTION: I’m Emily Hey from the Nikkei newspaper, Japanese. My question is: You sort of compared the state of the Maker Movement now to hobbyists in the Bay Area producing computers, not knowing what they were for. My question is: What do you think is more likely of an evolution of this movement that, given that there’s a range of materials that people would want to print in and different machines are better at handling different things, is it more likely to you that we will have machines in our houses that can produce in a variety of materials, or that there will be more makerspaces or places where you can go with a design and print the thing that you need and the material that you need locally?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Hard to know. I mean, the direction seems to be more that the movement would have machines in our houses or in close proximity. The models are like Kinko’s; would you go to a copier store, but we also have copiers at home integrated into our printers today. So they sort of blend over and overlap. I think the makerspaces – what’s really great about them right at this point in time, it’s not just that you have access to the machine, but you have access to a body of people that are using that, and I think there are probably a lot of people that buy these machines and they sit at home and they don’t know really how to use them very well because they need help. They need that. And when you see someone else do that and go, “Hey, how did you do that? Show me,” that’s kind of what the spirit of makerspaces are, and some of the early – when you reference a homebrewed computer club, it’s that “Hey, how did you design that board? I want to design one just like you.” It’s that kind of sharing that promotes, I think, the growth and knowledge around it.

But at some point, it becomes – a lot of the problems are solved in useful ways that it does become like an appliance, and then it just sort of fits somewhere in your home and – or your garage and you use it occasionally. But I think some of the other interesting cases are – they’re talking about putting one in the space shuttle and – or out in army in remote regions where they don’t have access to a supply chain. And so I think those cases will drive us a little bit more than sort of a broad consumer application.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, just a quick follow-up.


MODERATOR: You need to be on the mike for the transcript.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you. Just a quick follow-up: What kind of time horizon do you envision? I mean, I know nobody can predict this, but are you thinking 20 years or 10 or –

MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, it’s hard. I’m not a good forecaster and I don’t like to do it. You have to say that this stuff is happening faster than anyone would predict. And I think our lessons – I was involved in doing the first commercial website in ’93, and if you go back and read literature about the internet type systems, it would seem like it would take 50 years for that kind of thing to develop and have so much information on it. And look how much information is on the internet today in really 20, 30 years’ time.

So the spread of this, I don’t think we can – we can model it, but my hunch would be that it’s moving faster than we know and that it won’t be a 20-year – and again, I mean, it depends on where we want to go with it. But I don’t – I’m not necessarily forecasting that it would be in everybody’s home, but widely deployed the way that printers are widely deployed today, yeah, I think we can see that in almost a 10-year horizon, I think.

QUESTION: Caroline Talbot. I’m a French journalist. How do you see your movement competing with the big guys with the big companies or complementing them, or do you see a parallel economy?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Yeah. So the question being – I’ve always seen it as an alternative, but alternative sort of implies coexistence with other things rather than dominant things. I don’t know that we replace anything completely, but I think we’re adding more to the sort of mindset or the toolset that people have to do things. My goal is just in some ways is a creative culture where people are able to, whether they’re coming at it from an art and craft perspective or a science and engineering perspective, do meaningful things and contribute to solving important problems or creating beautiful things.

My goal is to increase participation in that movement by more people of diverse backgrounds, and rather than sort of an academic or corporate perspective, which usually qualifies who gets to participate. And I think some of the drivers we’ve seen around technology is that you know a kid with a computer can get online and learn how to build a website, and they’re off and running doing this. So my analogy is today they can’t necessarily just with a computer build or manufacture a product, but the obstacles are a lot fewer and the expense is a lot lower, and so they can. They probably can’t do it as easily as they could do a website, but they can get that prototype built and they can get it into circulation. They can build a website that shows that prototype and they get a following. They get people to say, “Hey, you’re really good at that.” And I think so kind of they’re getting to the same place.

So I don’t necessarily see us as opposed to consumer culture necessarily, but consumer culture is the dominant culture and we’re just trying to suggest that there are creative alternatives to it. It’s sort of like, to use an analogy, is I think we probably have more and better cooks in our country today, people who cook at home, and that’s something that was elevated over time and through things like better cookbooks and the expectations of people. And it’s kind of seeing that their goal isn’t to become a chef or be on a Top Chef or anything like that. It’s they want to cook for their family or they enjoy food. And I think this dimension that I see in technology and these things is adding that in. It’s not everybody’s going to found the next Facebook, but people can do things with technology to improve their lives and improve even their own personal life.

MODERATOR: We have time for two more questions.

QUESTION: Okay, Jacqueline Goossens with De Morgan in Brussels, Belgium. I have two questions that are actually related. The first one is: Are you proud of any things that came out of Maker Faires, let’s say, in Africa or countries in South America? And second: When you decide where to hold fairs in poorer countries, how do you do your scouting? Because I mean, there are incredibly creative people in some countries who with very, very little do incredible things. I mean, recycling, making parts. It’s just unbelievable, I mean, and thinking that so many people in this world don’t even have access to electricity.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Well, a couple thoughts along that line. One is in terms of Maker Faire, they’re organized by people that want to have them. I don’t do any scouting for them or – so other than the ones that I manage, someone has decided they want to do it. But Emeka Okafor did Maker Faire Africa, largely wanted to do it to feature innovation that was coming from locals, from the countries, since so much when we talk about technology in Africa is about Westerners showing up with their technology and saying, “Why don’t you use this,” instead of looking at how they’re solving problems. And I don’t know if you – it’s sort of the – I forget the title of the book about the windmill and the boy in Africa using – he’s featured a lot through Ted and other things. We had a young Maker in New York come from Sierra Leone, just incredible scavenging skills to find different things and make interesting pieces, some utilitarian, some artistic.

I just actually had dinner last week with a gentleman from Santiago, Chile. He organized the first Maker Faire in, really, Latin America last December. And so that was a big – for me it’s a big deal to have our first one down there. And he talked about its role in the community of just – he said, “I didn’t know there were all these crazy people that made stuff in my community.” And that’s the beauty of the Maker Faire is – and part of our goal is to – I say it like we don’t move Maker Faire, we grow it. We try to look – and I’ve been talking to some – even some Middle Eastern countries that want – they come to America and say, “Hey, we want a Maker Faire. Bring it over to the Middle East.” I go, “I don’t bring Maker Faire anywhere. You have to organize it for Makers that are in your country and your culture and connecting to them.” And I think what we try to recommend is kind of like community organizing; you have to go out and find them and bring them together and feature what they do. And so we hope we’re an impetus for that.

But I agree with you that – another gentleman is at MIT, Jose Gomez-Marquez. He wrote a book – he wrote an article for us in one of our – in our kids issue on medical devices in third-world countries like Guatemala. And he said basically a lot of medical technology from America ends up in a place like Guatemala and it breaks down and someone has to fix it, and the people who fix it hack it. They have to make it work. They don’t have the parts. And he said they were kind of ashamed that they have to do that to those machines, that they have to hack them, and he was trying to work with them to see that they should be proud that they could do that. And so he started thinking about how certain devices that are aimed for those countries could be designed for hacking. In other words, how could a nebulizer goes there and then expects to have electricity, and he sort of makes the fact that it’s electrical just a component, and you can plug in a foot pump and make it work that way. So it’s like thinking about how these things can be recombined and remixed in different cultures.

So – and in some ways, I’d like to think that manufacturers might think a little bit differently as well instead of everyone across the world having a uniformly American set of standards in terms of resources that we need to think about it differently that way. I mean, my cell phone is running out of battery now and I’m, like, just as helpful as anything. It’s just a little thing, but it’s like we’re dependent on being on the grid all the time and not really thinking about that otherwise.


QUESTION: I know you have a manual for that, but could you give me a little ideas like how to start a Maker Faire? So what are the elements?

MR. DOUGHERTY: What are the what?

QUESTION: What are the basic elements?

MR. DOUGHERTY: Oh, elements. Well, it’s community. It’s the same thing you need to start a makerspace and a Maker Faire is to find the Makers in your community. How do you do that? Well, I think social media helps quite a bit. And I was in Taiwan this summer --

QUESTION: Do we have one?

MR. DOUGHERTY: You’re going to have one. You do have a translation of Make magazine there. And – but I went to one of the districts where they sell a lot of the electronics, and they had Arduino boards in there. And there are places where the community goes to buy stuff and make stuff. And I had this – there was this – I went by this block and it was actually a fruit stand, but it had DIY on it in this beautiful – I took a picture of it, it’s on my iPad, it’s like this great photo but it’s from Taiwan. So like these things are in every culture, and it’s kind of finding a way to tell that story and celebrate Making, I think, is what Maker Faire is about.

And you’re kind of like a scout, I mean, in a sense in your own community going out and looking for them. And you can bring in – in Austin, Texas we were bringing lace makers in, traditional arts or the Small Engine Model Association. There are lots of hobbyist groups. Go look on Meetup and you’ll see a lot of them. It’s amateur astronomers. There are all these kinds of people in your community that are there, and sometimes they think they’re the only ones that do these things. But then you have people that participate in Burning Man, you have people that do all kinds of different things. And some are artists, some are not, some are like ham radio operators.

And I think the other thing is you kind of find at least a little bit overlap with people that do software and things today are kind of interested in this stuff. So look at – another thing is sort of look at what people are playing with, not what they’re doing at work but what they’re playing with in their – on the side and having fun.

MODERATOR: Thank you so much. We really appreciate you being with us today.

MR. DOUGHERTY: Thank you.

MODERATOR: And thank you, all of you, for coming.