MAKERS: A movement in the Making

What makes “making”–the next generation of inventing and do-it-yourself–worth paying attention to.

“Making”–the next generation of inventing and do-it-yourself–is creeping into everyday discourse, with the emerging maker movement referenced in connection with topics ranging from the rebirth of manufacturing to job skills development to reconnecting with our roots. As maker communities spring up around the globe, a plethora of physical and virtual platforms to serve them have emerged–from platforms that inspire and teach, to those that provide access to tools and mentorship, to those that connect individuals with financing and customers. At the same time, access to lower-cost, small-run manufacturing, particularly in hotspots such as Shenzhen, China, has increased, making small production more economical and viable.1 Both the supply and demand curves are being affected–the long tail of supply can now meet the long tail of demand, and the long tail of demand itself is changing as individuals change their own consumption.

The scales haven’t tipped yet. While alternatives exist to almost any mass-produced item, most US consumers haven’t yet explored the full range of possibilities. However, it is only a matter of time before large firms begin to feel the impact of this changing landscape.

The maker movement is an important manifestation of the economic landscape to come. Companies would be well served to find ways to participate, learn, and perhaps shape the movement. The maker movement ings disruptions but also opportunities: to boost sensing capabilities, leverage platforms for R&D, accelerate learning, and reimagine the enterprise as a platform.

In this report, we explore the three categories of makers, the ecosystem growing around those categories, the role technology plays in this ecosystem, and, finally, how business can take advantage of the opportunities this movement represents.

In a cavernous Silicon Valley event center on a sunny March afternoon, the aisles are filled with color and movement and a pervasive sense of wonder. And people. Tens of thousands of people crowd shoulder to shoulder to experience high- and low-tech gadgetry. Walls of LED lights ighten one end of the darkened warehouse, while at the other a metal-suited guitarist plays with lightning set off by giant Tesla coils. In the adjoining warehouse, crowds gather to watch 3-D printers produce small plastic objects from the bottom up, while synchronized quadcopters buzz overhead. In the distance, a dragon mobile eathes fire.

Everywhere you look, it seems, people of all ages are taking things apart and testing new ways of putting them back together. This is Maker Faire.

Welcome to the world of the maker.


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