Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The Maker Movement

The inspiration for this blog was the creation of a robot. During my brothers work on creating his first robot he discovered the maker movement. Makers or hackers are people who create things using technology such as electronics, computers, programming, CNC machining, 3-D printing or all of these and more. Ordinary people can make extraordinary gadgets.

The maker movement has accelerated with the introduction of hacker spaces. These are places where nerds can congregate to share their knowledge, learn and build things together. Many hacker spaces are important centres for the development of open source software and hardware. Most hacker spaces have open membership and want people from all walks of life to join. Just because you do not know anything about technology does not bar you from membership. You can collaborate with people who do have the knowledge to make your dreams reality.

Hackers pull apart devices and use the parts to create amazing new devices such as robots.

I think eventually makers will transform our society. Soon it will be possible to make any sort of device, even a mobile phone, with off-the-shelf components. We won’t be dependent any more on huge multinational companies to make all our stuff. You could download all the design documentation for free, then 3-D print a really cool custom housing for it. Stick in all the components and then download the latest version of android and install it on your new phone. You could then connect wirelessly to a public mesh network - for free. Before this happens the mobile phone may have become obsolete - replaced with a smart watch or something.

Further on into the future, if breakthroughs continue in robotics and 3-D printing, it will be possible to 3-D print almost anything. Just put all of the components in the correct resource bin and press print. The current proprietary world where everything is protected by intellectual property laws and copyright will start to be irrelevant. In this world everyone is a maker.

This sounds like an anarchist utopia where big corporations and governments don’t exist. I actually think in this world governments could become stronger if they choose to embrace this change. Large corporations can also still compete in this world. It will be a long time before people are able to 3-D print a car. The only thing that will change is that corporations would have to compete with us.

The maker revolution is happening and it will re-make the world.

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