This year, I wasn't going to miss Maker Faire! With the recent news about Maker Media closing and laying off all their staff, I determined to do whatever I could to help ensure the future of my local Maker Faire. With that in mind, my wife and I set off to enjoy Maker Faire Detroit at the Henry Ford Museum.
Almost as soon as we stepped out of the car, we found one of the things that makes Maker Faire so much fun - the other people who come! Over the course of the day, we saw a Jedi taking his lightsaber to his car, variations on the "V/I is futile!" shirt (V/I is the equation for resistance, if you're not an electrical engineer), and multiple people from the Mandalorian Mercs in custom Boba Fett costumes. There were people showing how to make chocolate bars from in-husk cocoa beans, start-up game developers, blacksmiths, and a guy using a MakerBot with a laser to engrave Chewbacca's face onto vanilla wafers (that's a Wookie cookie)!
Among all the cool things to see, I think my favorite part was meeting two of my heroes: Matt Stultz and Dale Dougherty. I stopped by the Prusa booth to ask for tips on how to use the Prusa MMU2S, and I ran into Matt, who used to run the 3D printer shootout for the MAKE: 3D printer issue every year. As we talked, he told me how he'd been laid off at MAKE: and how he'd gone to work for Prusa as their community development leader. Though he wasn't able to give me pointers for the MMU2S, he did make a strong case for embracing PrusaPrinters.org as a replacement for Thingiverse. According to Matt, MakerBot no longer dedicates development staff to Thingiverse, and the site has been left to the marketing department to maintain. Thingiverse has also been down pretty frequently lately, and it seems that no one is creating the topic-based or best-of-the-week collections anymore. In light of that, both Matt and Josef Prusa are passionate about making PrusaPrinters.org a living, community repository of printable objects for everyone, not just Prusa owners. I'll be re-posting my Thingiverse files up to PrusaPrinters.org, and I plan to give Matt my best kind, constructive feedback on how to improve their site.
While I was talking to Matt, Dale Dougherty walked up! In case you didn't know, Dale is the founder of MAKE: and the father of the Maker Faire. I never thought I'd get the chance to meet him, but he, Matt, and I talked for a few minutes about the future of MAKE: and Maker Faire. Dale has already recovered the assets of MAKE:, and he's keeping all the online content available from before Maker Media folded. (You ROCK, Dale!) He talked about the new organization he's founded, Make Community LLC, and he pointed to how organizations like National Geographic have used publications and events to raise money to further their goals of exploration or conservation. In the future, Dale hopes to follow that community-based model to continue bringing maker-focused content to the masses. I plan to support him, and I'm so glad he hasn't given up!
Instead of this year at Maker Faire being heavy with pessimism about the future, I left feeling refreshed and with an understanding that it's actually my responsibility to help bring my favorite content to Maker Faire. If I want to see Maker Faire continue, I can't wait for a corporate sponsor to swoop in and save it. You and I have to make the time and put in the work to own MAKE: and Maker Faire.