Archive for June, 2013

Happy (Geeky) Father’s Day

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

In the Globe & Mail on Friday there was an article on Scott Bedford, creative director by day, crafter by night. He has a  Webby-award winning website WhatIMade.com and is the author of Made by Dad. I am glad he added the subtitle on the book cover “Projects you can build for (and with) your kids”. When I grew up and was messing around in my father’s workshop I don’t remember him stepping in and doing things for me. He just me let at it, as long I was working safely. I remember the first shelf I ever made. It was with 3/4″ dowels, wire & buckles and 1/4″ Masonite sheets. It was very light-weight and very rickety. The shelf units I have made since are definitely of higher quality. In life I have learned there are somethings you just can’t teach. I also have had the realization that, especially in the domain of making things, the ONLY way to learn is to make mistakes.

Another hands-on dad I have come across is Ken Denmead who was trained as a civil engineer. He has published three books and is the publisher and editor of the blog GeekDad and an editorial director at MAKE Magazine. You can learn about him at GeekDadBooks.com.

There is a lot of practical information on a blog site managed by two dads who are lifelong friends and really into DIY, How-To, family and gadgets. Pete and Marty’s site is called Dadand.com.

I wish I was THERE.

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

A few weeks ago there was the eighth annual Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif. Since that first Faire in the Bay Area in 2006 the movement has grown substantially with over 120 community-driven Mini Maker Faires around the world, including Tokyo and Rome (an increase over last year’s 60 events). Last year I was at the Mini Maker Faire in Montreal and the World Maker Faire in New York. In the HuffPost I read a blog entry written by Michael Nobleza, executive director of the Children’s Creativity Museum. He talked about their booth at the Bay Area Faire where the kids could shape clay into characters that they could then bring to life using table-mounted iPads and iStopMotion animation. The iPads had run out of power but somehow the kids were perfectly content having their clay characters come alive without seeing the final result on the tablets. This is an example of the concept that it’s not about what you make, but the process of making; Creating Spaces for Kids to Make and Learn.

If it you need an overview read; Maker Faires spread the DIY gospel. Maker Faires are like maker projects themselves. Some skills can’t be acquired until you roll up your sleeves and just do it. Similarly, these events can’t be fully appreciated until you finally go to one.

Why Maker Faire may be Silicon Valley’s most important export was a Los Angeles Times article written by Chris O’Brien who attended the 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire with his son. His observations have some very valid points. Considering the attendance at this particular Faire has gone from 18,000 in 2006 to over 120,000 in 2013 it is more than a curiosity for a niche audience. It truly has become a cultural phenomenon. We are still in a world dominated by technologies that revolve around consumption. Hands-on/maker activities/DIY are not as common as they once were but the success of Maker Faires do give us some HOPE!