Friday, February 24, 2012

Making a Maker

I've said on this blog, many times, that I am a generalist and wish to remain one.  I don't to limit myself to a narrow niche of a sub field and miss out on a lot of other things.  I still want to remain a generalist, but of a slightly different sort.  I want to move from generalism to versatilism.  On the surface, not much will change.  I'll still putter around with Japanese, piano, lots of reading, blogging, and such.  But I'll devote more of my time to being a maker. 

What's a maker?  Well, someone who makes, of course.  Still not satisfied with that definition?  Read this.  It's a New York Times article from last year that gives a very good overview.  Take your time, I'll wait.

Done reading?  Did you read it?  I hope you did.  The maker movement is basically a resurgence of the old school hacker community, but with more of a focus on hardware instead of software.  I suppose it's a bit like the old Homebrew Computer Club of yore, but with a wider view.  The HCC is where the first Apple computer came from, thanks to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac.  Being a maker, though, is about far more than computers.  It's about engineers, artists, graphic designers, programmers, and others can come together to create both useful and beautiful things.

At the forefront of the maker movement is Make magazine.  Looking through the latest issue, I see projects about heart monitors, high-powered Nerf guns, hot air balloons, robots (of course), and the Kinect.  There are ads for suppliers of all kinds of components, or even complete kits. 

As you can see, there's a lot to being a maker.  I want to be somewhat general as a maker, as a great deal fascinates me, but will somewhat specialize toward embedded systems development, which is the career I'm already moving toward.  Over the next month or two, I'll talk more about the maker movement, what areas I'm looking at, what kits I'm buying/want to buy, and what resources I'm using to learn this stuff from.

Until then, happy making.

1 comment:

  1. The way I've come to think of my own generalism is that I want to be able to learn anything (fairly quickly/ with my own insights), not actually to know everything. And as I become literate in more and more topics, I want to be able to leave behind something, some benefit or distillation of my efforts. Sometimes this is nothing but notes to myself on what questions or doubts I still have about the topic. But hopefully more often I can make at least an interesting blog post a person or two might read one day, or a youtube video, or of course a research paper or invention, or I can teach someone else something what I have learned or have a good conversation about it.

    I try to keep myself from thinking I'm preparing to someday know enough, and think of ways of re-contributing right now based on what I've learned. But usually even those become 'some-day' scenarios. For example I read the book Clockwork Orange. A very simple thing to want to do after reading such a book is to write a little something in the fake slang language you learn by reading it, Nadsat. But being in graduate school makes that a bit difficult to schedule. So my Nadsat knowledge is fading and may not get used for a long time. (Chief notes: Most people who read the book think 'rooker' means hand, but I think it's better interpreted as 'arm'. There were a couple other words like this, don't remember now...)

    The Maker movement is just one way of taking the knowledge you acquire and making sure you actually achieve something lasting with it.