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Reporters' Roundtable: Inside the mind of the Maker Faire

Dale Dougherty, founder of Make Magazine and the Maker Faire, discusses the human need to create, hack, and tinker.

The Maker Faire is a county fair for geeks. At the upcoming (Saturday and Sunday) Bay Area Faire, instead of jam competitions, there will be radio-controlled battleship shoot-outs. Instead of rows of people hawking snake-oil cleaning products, there are workshops teaching you and your kids how to make model rockets. If you're a nerd, Maker Faires are the events you wish you had when you were a kid.

The Maker Faire is put on by the technical publisher O'Reilly Media, and is in large part the brainchild of Dale Dougherty, who's our guest on this Roundtable. Dougherty is also the editor and publisher of Make Magazine, the magazine of projects you really should find the time to do.

This interview took place at the O'Reilly labs, where the team was preparing for Maker Faire and working on projects for Make Magazine. We talk about more than just these two projects, of course. There's an emerging technology do-it-yourself culture, a growing understanding that buyers of technology do not have to be slaves to it. Furthermore, the tough economy is pushing more people to do hands-on projects. People are learning about, inventing, and re-using technology in ways they never have before, and that's the topic of our discussion with Dougherty.

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Some of our discussion points

Why Make Magazine and the Maker Faire?

Discuss the "Maker mindset," the need to create and make.

Effect of economy on maker mindset.

Talk about Open Source and its importance to makers. Discuss Arduino.

What is it about robots?

New tools for creators--3D printers and the like. Also new labs, or as you call them, "maker spaces."

Offshoots of Make: Crafting, Art, Food

Talk about the labs here. Why do you need labs?

The Steampunk movement: Psychoanalyze that for me, will you? Draw the thread out from Burning Man?

Education. How do we excite students and teachers?

Talk about how Maker Faire evolves.

Listener question from Jon Johns: "How will this Make culture impact the rest of the world in the next 50 years? African nations and other parts of the world emerging are filled with Makers, and inventors of the future. How will you be part of that?"

See also: Dale's TED talk.

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