When I visited my first Maker Faire last weekend in Hannover, Germany, I noticed that there were no “booth babes” at ”the biggest show and tell on earth”. The event drew 18.000 visitors from Germany and Europe who saw all kinds of self-made gadgets 3D-printed gadgets, across drone races, to the walking machine mantis.
Speaking with the visitors and makers and watching them interact with each other was a very pleasant experience. The members of the maker community treat each other with respect and courtesy.
One of the reasons is, that the maker movement is not organized around a great social or even political goal, but a result of countless individual aspirations to create things, to improve, and to solve actual problems. The more impressive a creation is, the more influential its maker becomes. It’s a near perfect meritocracy.
A side effect of this meritocracy is that it has a healthy female participation. It was pleasantly surprising to see so many young women among the makers and visitors. But it should come as no surprise.
Take Laura Kampf from Cologne, Germany, for example, who was the most popular of the panelists at a discussion on their Youtube channels. If you check out her own channel it is easy to understand why a blend of ingenuity, skill and sense for aesthetics is much more important than gender to gain hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Get your hands dirty
Making everything with your own hands may be not very efficient, economically. Just think of “I, Pencil”, the essay that shows how much skill, time and resources go into the simplest products. Without thousands of engineers laboring over the placement of parts and writing code we couldn’t have smartphones, those marvel machines in our pockets.
But you should build something nevertheless. Nothing makes you appreciate the marvels of engineering work like doing some of it yourself. Take one of the many online plans, get inspired by a Youtube video, or get crazy and cook something up on your own.
Your creation may not be as polished, as efficient, or as useful as an industrial product. Making something allows you to get an idea of the processes of problem solving that brought humanity to where it is today. When I soldered an LED to a board in Hannover and saw it light up it made me appreciate even more that I can just flick a switch to illuminate an entire house.
Now get your hands dirty. I can tell from experience it is worth it.