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Missing the Maker Faire July 6, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Odds and Ends, Technology, Up and Away.

I didn’t write about it before, but last year we missed the San Mateo Maker Faire while we were in town. Dad was the one who caught wind of the event since he’d frequented Silicon Valley numerous times over the years; yet on our way there we got caught in a terrible traffic jam leading up to the convention center, so we aborted our visit.

This year, it slipped our minds that we were again in town for the Maker Faire — that is, until we again found ourselves victims of the traffic jam near the convention center, albeit entirely by coincidence. So once more it just wasn’t in the cards, and since we really had no intention of going this time around I had no reason to feel disappointed about missing it again, especially because I had no clue what it was exactly that I was missing.

Then the strangest thing: recently, an article about the Maker Faire popped up on my CNET news feed subscription. It was originally published back in May, but because of a correction popped back up on feed. Add to that the fact that it had something to do with Wall-E(!), the inevitable result was I just had to read the article.

And now I know what I’ve been missing.

No matter how you look at it, the Maker Faire concept is cool: a convention for inventors and inventions. Granted, that by itself doesn’t sound particularly remarkable, as if it were an activity ripe for either crackpots or snake oil salesmen. Yet the caliber of invention and innovation that finds its way to the Faire (if the article is anything to go by) is nothing short of outstanding. Robotics aficionados trying to build their own version of Wall-E? I’m down with that. It’s precisely these kinds of activities that’re lacking in the Philippines: events that get people excited about science and technology beyond the hackneyed “make a clay volcano” or “construct a diorama” or any of the papier mache projects that seem to pass for science in basic education these days.

It’s become fashionable to blame many of the country’s ills on the paucity of material resources. Yet that’s just a cop-out. The Philippines is a developing country. Fine. We get that. But we shouldn’t let our material poverty get in the way of our talent, our ability to be innovative, and our capacity to dream big.

But I digress. Hopefully next year that long-delayed visit to the Maker Faire will push through. If it does, you can bet I’ll be checking out the DIY Wall-E scene — and all the other things, besides — thinking up how I can get in on the action myself.

[Daniel Terdiman: In Search of a DIY Wall-E (via CNET)]



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