Makers Vs. The Blob

Me in the Mousey build area of the Make booth. Morning, Day 2.
Still half asleep.
Photo by Scott Beale

Well, we’re back from the Maker Faire. Very tiring, but supremely satisfying. I’d really wanted to blog the event as it happened, but ended up spending nearly all day, both days, in the Make booth, building mousebots. At night, I was just too wiped to do anything but keel over.

Everything at a Maker Faire is cranked to 11: the size of the event, the creativity of what’s being presented, the excitement of the fairgoers, the diversity of the people who show up. So, YOU end up on 11. I heard this jacked amperage was experienced by both fairgoers and presenters alike. The common chant went something like: “This is SO awesome. I LOVE it! There’s too much! I’ll never get to see it all.”

As workshop presenters, Blake and I saw little of the Faire. The first day, we did open-ended workshops, selling Mousey parts bundles and then helping people build them at workstations we’d set up (until they’d decide to stop and finish the project at home). This meant that we stayed at our post from 10am till I cried “uncle” at 4pm. That was probably the most tired I’ve ever been in my life. The second day, we ran three one-hour workshops. That was a much saner way to do business and gave us some time to wander around and see some of the Faire.

Our Mousey workshops went very well. For the Faire, we created two parts bundles (put together by the fine folks at Solarbotics). We thought most people wouldn’t want to try and build a whole robot at the show, so we made a quicker, easier “car kit.” We ended up only selling three of them! Everyone bought the full Mousey, and a surprising number of people actually sat down and started the build right there in the Make area. Several people were at the workstations for several hours. My favorite was a woman who saw the mousebots, really liked them and said: “You know what? This is really out of my comfort zone, but I’m going to do it anyway. I think I need to challenge myself more.” And she bought a parts bundle, chose an old mouse, sat down, and dove right in. There were a lot of kids with their parents, moms and dads alike, working together, which was nice to see. The mice we used for the workshops were provided by James Burgett at Alameda County Computer Resource Center. He was a great asset and fun to work with, so we’d like to give him ye ol’ shout out. Thanks, James!

Other highlights of the show for me were Mister Jalopy’s talk on Maker Day and his Urban Guerrilla Movie House on wheels (seen here), which he showed next to our Mousey build area in the Make booth. One of my favorite new words is hilaritas, which means “profoundly good natured, full of mirth.” It’s more than being friendly, more than being funny. Mister Jalopy is full of hilaritas. I also had a good connection with Bill Gurstelle, the Backyard Ballistics guy. Great fella. Smart. Kinda wacky. Supremely creative. Again with the hilaritas. There seems to be a lot of that within the Maker community. Besides Mr. Jalopy, our other Make boothmates were Phillip Torrone and Bre Pettis, running a cool drawbot exhibit. It was fun finally getting to meet both of them. SRL was at the show, displaying their infernal machinery. Still living up to their rep as the “Most dangerous show on Earth,” their stabbing robot, well, stabbed a guy (in the hand). Got a chance to meet Violet Blue, but not Karen Marcelo (SRL/Dorkbot SF), and never got a chance to say hi to Mark Pauline. Street Tech’s webmaster Tim Tate came to the Faire, too, and we finally got to meet F2F (after being virtual friends for some ten years!). Didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would’ve liked, but we got to walk around to see some of the exhibits during one of my breaks. —>