I was sitting at my desk designing the new main circuit board for the Office Chairiot Mark II when my mind wandered to something else: What makes me a maker? Why do some people make and some are content to not create? Then I thought, "I should put a survey together and let it run for a while and see if I can get some interesting data on that."
Great. Another thing to distract me from things I really should be doing. Meh.
I put together this first version in Google Forms and posted it. It's alive now. If you feel compelled, please run through it, whether you're a maker or not (it has provisions for those two conditions).
After I published this form, I found this video of an interview with Dale Dougherty asking him his thoughts on the question, "What makes a 'maker?'":
I dig Dale and what he's done for the modern maker movement. Like he says, the maker movement isn't new at all. In fact, I would argue that humans have making in their DNA, but not all humans tap into that nature at the same levels. Maybe some don't tap that gene at all. That's cool. I've seen chimpanzees poking sticks into termite colonies to get food. Also, Stoffel the honey badger seems to have making tendencies. So, apparently we're not alone in the animal kingdom with our maker sensibilities. Suddenly this venture seems too complex.
Seriously, though, what makes a maker?
I get asked all the time, "What is a maker?" A maker is really into making things and making is creating, inventing and innovating, repairing, upgrading, tinkering (no reason necessary) and even breaking. I think if you show this list to someone who doesn't necessarily consider themselves a maker, they might reconsider their maker status.
I'm sure there's some underlying psychological reason for why some do and some don't make. I dunno. What I'm more interested in is if there are patterns in makers that can be quantified, aside form the obvious things, like, "I love to create stuff" and, "I like to use my hands." I'm also interested in how people gravitate to making from little or no making. Not everyone starts when they're tiny, although it seems most do. The outliers are as interesting to me as the "typical" maker. I use that term ("typical") loosely, since most of the makers I've met or read about are anything BUT typical.
The questions in the survey as of today are totally off the top of my head. I wrote them imagining someone interviewing me about the whole movement and my motivations and inspirations. I'm sure I've missed some good questions, so as I find more, I'll probably modify the survey.
I put a conditional branch in the form to find out why those who do not consider themselves makers... Um... Why do they not consider themselves makers? Yes. I kinda wanted that non-maker branch of the survey to also spark some thought with its questions to possibly kickstart some interest in those who may not realize they have a little maker inside.
Why evangelize about making, though?
I understand from my 46 years on this earth that I cannot always understand why other people think or act the way they do and I've learned to be cool with that. What I know about myself is that I seem to automatically evangelize about things I love or believe in, making being the perfect example. In fact, this blog and the Office Chairiot website are products of my desire to promote my love for making and tinkering. It is my hope that people who feel like they want to get into making, but aren't sure where or how to start, might get just enough of a nudge from these things I've put out there to fall over the wall and into the maker world. Hopefully they realize it isn't that hard to get into and it's a lot of fun if they have even a flicker of creativity in them.
I also believe innovation and creativity need to be fueled. If we want to keep improving on things we need to keep fanning the flames. I may be a tiny fish in an ever-growing pond (maybe ocean?) of making, but I feel an impulse toward the stewardship of creativity. Encouragement to create, build, break, tinker, DIY, make, improve learn and most importantly to play should come from anywhere, but we're doomed if it comes from nowhere.