Make: Magazine's First Ever Maker Faire Explodes

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Flame_vehicleWhere can you find a man riding a giant giraffe robot, a fire-spewing electric cart equipped with sheep’s wool seats, a plug-in Prius that gets 100 mpg, teams playing Segway Polo, model rocket launches, fashion shows with inflatable dresses, and parents and children enjoying every minute of it? Why, at Make: magazine‘s first ever Maker Faire, held this weekend in San Mateo, CA, bien sûr. In the year since it bowed, Make: magazine has become the bible of a new Do It Yourself (DIY) movement whose ethos is "If you haven’t built it, taken it apart, hacked or modded it, you don’t really own it." Make:, from TEDster Tim O’Reilly‘s (we get each other’s mail) media empire is one of the few successful independent magazine launches in a market where titles are folding like origami.  Maker_faire_1
More after the jump…


(From left to right: Make: magazine Creative Director David Albertson,
Editor-in-Chief and bOING bOING co-founder Mark Frauenfelder and
Craft: Editor-in-Chief Carla Sinclair.)

Modern-day MacGyvers showed off one incredible invention after another,
all made from scratch, built from off the shelf parts or junk, or
modified from commercial products. Not your average craftmart the
Bizarre Bazaar offered gems like pink cotton candy candles and
hand-stitched journals made out of old Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew
books.  Seen around the grounds: Google co-founder Larry Page, Apple
co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Tim O’Reilly.

Mark Frauenfelder, the editor-in-chief of Make:, bOING bOING co-founder, and an accomplished artist showed kids how to silk screen custom artwork onto their cloth bags. (Where does he find the time?) Carla Sinclair (Mark Frauenfelder is her husband) and David Albertson, my longtime friend from New Trier high school, showed off galleys from the forthcoming Craft: magazine, a sister to Make: that bows in August.

My friend Marc Geller of the Electric Auto Association talked about the pros and cons of alternative energy vehicles and told me about the documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? that played this weekend at the San Francisco International Film Festival (opens in the U.S. June 28, 2006.) He is a passionate advocate for all-electric cars which all-but disappeared over the past few years. Electric cars cost the equivalent of 70 cents a gallon to power! Some of his colleagues from CalCars were hacking a Prius so that it uses the electric motor a lot more, plugs in at night,  and gets 100 mpg. Expect to hear a lot more about plug-in hybrids.

Maker Faire buzzed with the kind of electricity you find at events that define the beginning of something new.  It reminded me of the early days of the computer business when people’s eyes gleamed with enthusiasm and true curiosity. The best part for me is that parents and kids were building robots (and myriad other projects) together.

David Albertson (with wife Anya) shows off the
Craft: galleys.

More Maker Faire photos here.