Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brief thoughts on Maker Faire 2011

Went to the Maker Faire this last Sunday (5/22). I'm a big fan of the faire and have been going since I've been down in the Bay Area, so... this is my 4-5th one?

I really liked last year's. It got out of the steampunk rut and was all about this whole eco/green thing and there were some really touching projects. I remember getting a little tear-y eyed looking at/reading about the high school projects. Such awesome sentiment there.

This year I wasn't quite as moved... maybe I didn't spend enough time there, maybe I was too drained by earlier weekend activities to get hyped up about it.... It seemed *really* crowded (though I could still move about/see things) and a little too over produced. As I was telling Adam- I've always enjoyed the home-made nature of previous Maker projects. The feeling that "yeah, I can kinda' see how I could do that myself!" However, this year everything was so polished and produced and professional looking that I was rather removed emotionally from a lot of it. There were neat projects, absolutely! But they didn't strike the chord in me of "Hell yes! I can do this too!"

Maybe this is just the side effect of so many awesome processes/resources becoming available to everyone that it is actually easier for everything to look better! I could believe that, what with the Arduino system being so accessible and neat, and the TechShop expanding and being cool... Maybe I just didn't visit the right exhibits...

Focus on the positive though (because there was a lot of positive things there and I'm very happy I went) :
  • Talking to the Halo costume guy. Not only talented but super friendly and informational. Best exhibit there. Loved the mix of kick-ass final products with loads of details about the process.
  • The Colossus. Highly amusing that so many children wanted to pull rocks around. Normally you'd expect an entertaining device to move it's users, not the other way around.
  • The Tesla coils... I remember ArcAttack sounding better last year musically but it's hard to be disappointed when there's lightening involved. The entire dark room in general was done very well this year, a huge improvement over last year's. The EL wire sharks were surprisingly cute.
  • The bubble man! There was a station with this dude making super huge bubbles and kids were playing with it and it was just an all around smile inducing situation.
  • Superconductor exhibit. There was a circular track of magnets with a superconductor floating around it (as seen in a video in this Makezine article). Super science to watch, but made better by the kids manning the table and explaining it to passer-bys. And by kids I mean a particular girl who was calmly handling every question, keeping the track running, and being generally awesome. I wish there were more science girls like her.

    Am sad I didn't go Saturday instead. My bad. Am already looking forward to next year's...
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