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Technology

A Trip to the 2018 Bay Area Maker Faire

A few weekends ago (May 18 – 20), I flew out to the Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, California. What is this Maker Faire, you may ask? Since 2007, this has been an annual event where locals and visitors from around the world stop by to show off their imaginative creations and/or appreciate them as spectators. Keep in mind, there are hundreds of maker faires in 38 countries around the world, although the Bay Area Maker Faire is one of the largest and tends to have some of the most impressive attractions.

View from the 4 hour plane ride from Minneapolis to San Francisco

The day before the main event made for the perfect opportunity to visit some of my favorite places at Fisherman’s Wharf: Musée Mécanique (where you can play a variety of antique automata, arcade games, and unique musical contraptions), Boudin Sourdough Factory (for arguably the best clam chowder bread bowl), and of course Pier 39, where the sea lions attract large crowds, as they bask in the sunlight, bark loudly, and playfully push each other off of the floating platforms into the water.

Sea Lions at Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf

This year, Maker Faire was packed with over one hundred thousand visitors.

Many of these attendees have hobbies that involve creating things and thusly identify as “makers”. Maker Faire is a place for sharing creations and connecting with a larger community that is part of the Maker Movement.

This Maker Movement is a social movement that is marked by the spirit of learning through doing. Sharing how you made something (open source) is a big part of the maker spirit. That is, once we have scoured the internet looking for how to make something for a project, we then cite it and try to make something new with that as a foundation. By publicly posting our process and including things like source code, CAD files, and documentation, we are helping more people learn and grow from each other.

Below were some of the exhibitors from this year’s Bay Area Maker Faire:

Among the exhibitors, there was a notable group known as Open Insulin. This group is attempting to create a generic version of insulin so that this life saving drug can be sold at a more reasonable price, as the prices of insulin sold by private companies have increased dramatically over the past decade.

On the last day of Maker Faire, Adam Savage from Mythbusters delivered his anticipated annual speech on making. This year’s theme centered around sharing. Adam discussed how withholding information from others surrounding a build process once a patent or copyright has already taken effect is unnecessary and mistakes ones technique for a commodity. Sharing of materials, tools, knowledge, skills and processes is essential to being a maker, professed Adam.

With the above mentioned exhibits and events, Maker Faire reminds us how exploration and play is a pivotal part of learning and connecting with others. Locals of Minnesota interested in the maker movement can attend the upcoming Minneapolis-St Paul Mini Maker Faire this Saturday, June 2nd.