Some are predicting that the Makers Movement is going to change the world. Some say that it already is. Probably you have not really heard of the makers movement, but makers everywhere are making solutions to difficult problems from the comfort of their own homes. People of all ages are doing this, and creating tools for change in society. As Jane Wakefield of the BBC explains:
“From the 15 year old high school student who created a pancreatic cancer test using Google as a research tool, to people making money from home made electronic devices, citizens are most definitely doing it for themselves”.
That a 15 year old was able to achieve such an outstanding feat is indicative of the kind of change that is possible when people put their minds to it and think creatively. According to Wakefield, certain changes have led to this being more possible than before. These include the ability for people to be able to access cheap components online, as well as the opportunity to crowd source, and share ideas and funding. All of this provides opportunities that did not exist in the past, but that are now driving people to achieve amazing things.
In the past, creating a prototype or a new product was often the remit of organisations with resources behind them. However, now people are using all kinds of “making” techniques as diverse as sewing and electronics to be able to make products that add value to society and change lives. According to Wakefield, Make Magazine has had a role to play in this as well, and there are Maker Faires held in San Francisco, India, Tokyo, Newcastle and Africa. These types of events are excellent for makers as they are able to get together with people of a similar mind set and share ideas, further driving the Maker Movement. Of course it is also facilitated by the internet and accessibility to information that helps people to come up with information and get advice on how to go about what they are doing to create innovation. The web offers guidance in so many different areas, and every step of the making process may be defined in some way or another online for those with the ideas to create new products. Many consider this to be a creative revolution, with people coming up with their own designs for products.
A person considered to a pioneer of the Maker Movement is Mark Hatch, that published in 2013 the book: “The Maker Movement Manifesto”, that captures the movements revolutionary spirit. In his book Hatch writes how “Now, with the tools available at a makerspace, anyone can change the world.”
Hatch is the cofounder of TechShop – the first, largest, and most popular makerspace. Interested people can become a member by paying a small fee for access to its advanced tools-everything from laser cutters and milling machines to 3D printers and AutoCAD software. TechShops exist in various states of the US, and members are guided by a “dream consultant”.
How to Find Funding
Both Hatch and Wakefield explain that of course makers have always been out there making things, but that now they do present a new threat to existing corporations because they are able to find ideas online, and even more importantly they can find support and financing online through websites such as Kickstarter. This has made large organisations start to pay attention. Specifically, Wakefield cites the case of Intel which is one of the sponsors of the Maker Faire. Organisations are starting to recognise the skills that makers have to offer and are seeking them out and recruiting them for R&D teams.
Wakefield provides the example of Etsy which is an online marketplace for handmade items. The organisation brought in £307 million in sales in just eight months of 2012, at the time of writing of the Wakefield article. Another major maker breakthrough is the concept of the 3D printer which Wakefield describes as being a “killer app of the maker movement”. While a threat, at the current time the technology is not yet advanced sufficiently to really pose a challenge to talented, creative and innovative makers across the globe.
Ultimately, so-called “ordinary people” are achieving amazing goals through making, and have been able to build up companies through it and get their ideas funded and financed. Harnessing the tools and information that the internet has to offer has brought about a fundamental change in this regard, in the sense that a person no longer has to have a high level of training or lots of money to be able to advance an idea. With a bit of web savvy and lots of research a person can progress an idea from home instead. It is hard to imagine anyone outdoing the 15 year old that produced the cancer test at home, but it is yet to be seen what else may be achieved in the future. Only time will tell how far the Makers Movement goes.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.