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Makerspaces: What are they, and why do they matter?

Makerspaces: What are they, and why do they matter?
Makerspaces are a major part of the DIY / Maker movement, and this is why you need to be a part of one. Charles explains why in this article.
| Editorials in Maker & DIY | Posted: Dec 2, 2013 3:04 am

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Within the last decade the DIY movement has grown from projects in basements and garages to a collective movement of people gathering together in cities and across the country to something much larger than it ever was before. Some attribute this to the downturn in the world economy, and while that may be true, I suspect a major portion of it is due to the movement to share everything on the internet.

 

Back in the day, well before I was born, kids grew up with hobbies that urged them to make things with their hands such as the popular Heath Kit DIY electronics kits. Another popular DIY set for kids was the Erector set that let users build their own mechanical devices out of real metal parts. Often times, kids would help their parents repair the lawnmower, fix the carburetor on the car, or even sew a quilt to help keep them warm in the winter. At some point, day-to-day life got so complicated that families were forced to pay someone to do these things for them. This new "just hire someone to do it for me" attitude combined with the rise of cheap manufacturing in places like China, Mexico, and India, left many of the do-it-yourself skills forgotten by much of the population.

 

While some kept this knowledge alive as a hobby, others were forced to continue the DIY tradition out of sheer necessity because they could not afford to hire the TV repairman or the plumber to fix it for them. Sometime in the late 70's, and through the 80's and 90's, we lost track of these skills even more as the global economy began to boom and the consumerist lifestyle began to grow.

 

Fast forward to the last ten years and we have begun to see a resurgence in DIY at the same time that the technological world is experiencing a growth in innovation that can be described as a new industrial revolution. Spawning off of this movement is something that can be considered a revolution all on its own, the Maker Movement. The Maker Movement is comprised of a growing population that is embracing the DIY philosophy of life and is sharing and collaborating to push the world of DIY to the next level.

 

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For many years, this collaboration took place after-hours in classrooms at universities as well as in garages and living rooms around the world. In Germany back in 1995, a group of Makers formed C-Base, which is widely believed to be the first public Hackerspace. But it was not until a few years ago that the concept really took off and bloomed into a thing of its own. I like to give credit to Bre Pettis and NYC Resistor as the first truly public Makerspace / Hackerspace in the USA. Out of NYC Resistor, several companies and products have been born, including the MakerBot and the Sanguino development board.

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