Maker Movement Manifesto
In the spirit of making, I strongly suggest you take this manifesto,
make changes to it, and make it your own. That is the point of making.
Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make,
create, and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique
about making physical things. Things we make are like little pieces of
us and seem to embody portions of our soul.
Make. Just make. This is the key. The world is a better place as a
participatory sport. Being creative, the act of creating and making, is
actually fundamental to what it means to be human. Secular philosophers
like Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Carl Jung, and Abraham Maslow all
came to the conclusion that creative acts are fundamental. Physical
making is more personally fulfilling than virtual making. I think this
has to do with its tangibility; you can touch it and sometimes smell and
taste it. A great sentence or well-written blog is creative and makes
you feel good about what you have accomplished, but it is not the same
as the satisfaction that comes from the physical labor involved in
making something physical.
If you come from a Judeo-Christian religious background, whether Jewish,
Protestant, or Catholic, then you know that the first book of the Torah
or Old Testament is the book of Genesis. Read Genesis Chapter 1 closely.
Whether you believe in the literal interpretation of Creation or not, we
can probably agree on two things coming out of this chapter. God is a
maker, and he made us in his image. It is a very powerful introduction
to God and who we are as humans. What do you know about humanity by the
end of the chapter? It says, "God made" (or "let," or "created") some 15
times and ends with making people in his image. At the end of Genesis 1,
we may not know much about God or humans, but we do know one thing for
sure: we were made to make.
There is nothing that can replace making—philosophers, religious
scholars, and personal experience make that clear. Wars have been fought
when the common people thought they were going to lose access to
ownership of their own productive tools. So the first thing we must do
is make. The do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement industry in the
United States is worth over $700 billion. The hobbyist segment is worth
over $25 billion. The most valuable segment of the $700 billion DIY is
the perpetual remodeler, specifically those who have enough money to let
business professionals do the work for them, but don't. You might know
or even be one of these people. In your heart of hearts, you know you
don't really need to redo the bathroom, or certainly not the way
you plan to do it, yourself. But you do it anyway. This is because there
is more satisfaction in completing the remodel yourself.
A makerspace is a center or workspace where like-minded people get
together to make things. Some makerspace members are designers, writers,
practitioners of medicine or law, architects, and other white-collar
types who come in and start making things for themselves, their
families, and friends. They spend time in makerspaces because they just
love to make things. They don't need to make Christmas presents;
they want to.
Tina Albin-Lax had made a New Year's resolution for 2012. She was going
to learn how to make something. She signed up for TechShop's basic laser
cutter class and has never been the same since. For $60, she learned how
to use a laser cutter. Then she booked it for the next day so she could
practice what she had just learned, but she needed a project to practice
on. As luck would have it, that evening Tina's sibling called and
invited her to attend her nephew's birthday party that weekend. With a
flash of brilliance, Tina asked for the names of all the children who
would be at the party.
The next day Tina used her new training to make cupcake toppers for each
of the party attendees. Using the laser cutter, Tina cut out the name of
each child and etched in some nice patterns. She finished them with a
nice glossy coat and that weekend put one on each child's cupcake. What
child doesn't love to see his or her name emblazoned on something?
Particularly something chocolaty and sweet? Not surprisingly, the
parents wanted cupcake toppers for the rest of their children and then
wanted them for their children's parties. It snowballed.
Soon Tina had an online store (www.etsy.com). Then she began
teaching classes on how to launch a business and had a great mention in
Martha Stewart's magazine, Martha Stewart Living. Her phone
couldn't make it through the day from all the order notifications she
was getting. Last I heard, she was working on a book.
This all came about from a simple desire to make something for the first
time since sixth grade. An accidental entrepreneur was born. And what
was Tina's background? She was a labor organizer.
I grew up playing neighborhood football with a kid named Ben Parks. His
dad was a ceramic artist and had throwing wheels, clay, and amazing
glazes around his house. One day his dad invited us all to come out and
throw a pot. What a great afternoon. I attempted to make a large
vase—and after what seemed like dozens of attempts and lots of
help and encouragement—I ended up with a sad-looking, lopsided,
very small coin holder. It will hold a couple of dollars' worth of
quarters. I glazed it beautifully with help from Ben's dad. A couple of
days later, after it had been fired, I got to take it home.
This thing is an ugly duckling that will never grow up, but guess what
... I still have it. It's small enough that I've taken it everywhere I
have moved. Its only value is that I made it and it is some kind of
memento from my childhood. Looking back, I realize now that I was not
the target of that day of making, though I still appreciate the gift it
was. Ben eventually became a ceramic artist himself, following in his
father's footsteps. There is something fundamental about making.
Sharing what you have made and what you know about making with others
is the method by which a maker's feeling of wholeness is achieved. You
cannot make and not share.
We make to share. Each of us is wired to show off what we have made. We
get a lot of satisfaction out of the making, but the real payoff is in
sharing. Some people are coy about showing their work off. Others are
just terrified. One of the reasons we may have stopped making is that
what we set out to make and what we ended up with may not match very
well. Or others may have ridiculed us for our attempts. "I'm not good at
making anything," need never be said again. We were born to make. It may
take some practice to get good at some kinds of making, but technology
has begun to make creating easy enough that everyone can make.
My favorite question to ask at any makerspace is, "What are you making?"
People open up like flowers when asked that question and given any kind
of positive encouragement. In this regard, we are all still five years
Interestingly, after six years of working in a creative space, I've been
told, "I can't tell you everything, but ..." probably hundreds of times,
maybe thousands of times, but I've never been told, "I can't tell you."
Why? We want others to see what we have done.
When I worked at Avery Dennison, we used to let the newest junior
product managers help work on the back panels of our product's
packaging. They had to work off templates that had been approved and
developed for the line, and they had to have all the appropriate
approvals; nonetheless, the back panel was "theirs." The young managers
would jump into this with gusto, argue over font choices, the kerning of
apostrophes, the shade of loam green. I repeat, they cared about the
kerning of an apostrophe—the space between a letter and an
apostrophe. Look at the space they had to work with here:'s. Can you see
it? On a high-resolution computer screen, this is about the distance of
two or three pixels, and they removed one! Yet, they would protect their
design turf like a pit bull protects its bowl of food, growling when
someone tried to mess with their back panel.
Let me put this into context. To be a junior product manager at any
Fortune 500 packaged goods company, you have to graduate from a
respected MBA program at the top of your class. You have to work between
your bachelor's degree and your MBA at another major company with
consumer facing interactions. You are among some of the "best and
brightest" our schools and companies produce. You will almost always
make senior director, VP, SVP, or CEO if you choose, or you will go out
and start your own company. If you are a junior product manager at this
level, you are a very intelligent, type A, hard-charging, competitive
That said, once the aforementioned products were launched into the
channel and we all went to an Office Depot or Staples to see what the
final product packaging and shelf positioning looked like in the stores,
the junior product managers would rush like little kids to the stacks of
"their" products. They would stand in front of them, momentarily
admiring the way the products looked on the shelf and then pull a
package off the shelf, turn it over, and examine their handiwork. A
sense of satisfaction visibly rolled over them as they saw that the
typesetters had taken their ideas into final production and the s was
just a little closer to the apostrophe because it had been manually
kerned. Invariably, these talented, impressive, type A young
professionals would turn and say something like, "I did this."
"I did this."
"See the space between the apostrophe and that s? I did that."
The glow on their faces was like a new mother's when holding her child
for the first time. Complete satisfaction. The need to show others one's
new, beautiful child is embedded in the human psyche.
What is going on here? First, while the contributions that these
professionals were excited about might seem insignificant—after
all, the difference, distance-wise, between the spacing of an apostrophe
that has been automatically kerned and one that has been manually kerned
is negligible—but the end product is something that can be bought,
taken home, and shown to a significant other. Second, it is public.
Hundreds of thousands of these packages are shipped all over the world.
Third, it is often the first tangible and public representation of
years, if not a decade, of work. It isn't the size of the impact that is
significant; it is that there was impact and it was made tangible, and
tens of thousands of people would "see" their work. That really is
powerfully satisfying, even if it is only the amount of nothing between
an apostrophe and an s.
If you make something and don't share it, was it made? If you make
something, even something as small as a one-pixel space modification on
the back of a package, and share it, you have made something, and it
must be shared.
Another aspect of sharing is sharing knowledge and knowhow. The best
attribute of a well-run makerspace is the sharing of skills and
knowledge. It starts with the formal instruction, but the best learning
takes place while one person is building or designing and someone else
with just a little (or sometimes a ton) more experience lends a helping
hand and the project gets upgraded in the process. The sharing
philosophy gives a makerspace its magic. People show off their creations
knowing criticism was left at the front door, and everyone feels
comfortable asking for help, guidance, and input into projects as they
go through the build process. Sharing makes a maker-space a community.
There are few things more selfless and satisfying than giving away
something you have made. The act of making puts a small piece of you
into the object. Giving it to someone else is like giving that person a
small piece of yourself. Such things are often the most cherished items
One of the most satisfying aspects of making is giving away what you
have made. Wonderfully, most people still value gifts made by the giver
more than gifts that were bought off the shelf. If you do nothing else
this year, make one Christmas present to give away. And reflect on the
level of satisfaction you get and the recipient receives in that act. It
If your parents are still alive, they probably are still hanging onto
craft projects you made for them when you were a child. Quilts are often
handed down for generations. A well-made item, meeting a real need, made
by and for a loved one, is among the greatest of gifts.
There is another type of giving, that of your creativity or intellectual
property. Embrace Global is a wonderful nonprofit that used TechShop for
some of its development work. Naganand Murty was one of the design
engineers who came to our space, under Embrace cofounder and CEO Jane
Chen's direction, to address the problem of infant thermoregulation in
developing countries. Babies who are born even a few weeks prematurely
are unable to thermo-regulate, or maintain their body temperatures on
their own, and consequently must be incubated within one hour of birth
or risk death or serious permanent disabilities. For the hundreds of
thousands of these babies who are born around the world every year
without quick access to incubators (because they are born in rural areas
where the nearest hospital with incubator equipment may be several
hours, if not days, away), the problem is especially critical.
The question that Naganand Murty and his team had (you'll meet cofounder
Jane Chen in Chapter 3) was fairly simple: Would it be possible
to design a simple, affordable "blanket" that could maintain a baby's
body temperature at a constant level for an extended period of time? And
that was not dependent upon a continuous supply of electricity? Well, it
turned out the answer was yes. The Embrace portable infant warmer, which
looks like a mini sleeping bag and costs a fraction of the price of
other baby warming devices, uses some fancy chemistry and design to make
But here is the most amazing thing. Portions of Embrace's core
technology were donated to the organization through interactions with
other members of the TechShop community. These community members gave
their ideas away freely. And as a result, General Electric has signed on
to help distribute the blanket, and Embrace is on track to save the
lives of 100,000 babies in the next five years. Jane has been recognized
by the World Economic Council as one of the top social entrepreneurs in
You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your
making. You may become a journeyman or master artisan, but you will
still learn, want to learn, and push yourself to learn new techniques,
materials, and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a
rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to
Making brings about a natural interest in learning. It brings out the
natural four-year-old in all of us. "Why is the sky blue?" "Where does
milk come from?" "How are babies made?" This natural inquisitiveness
seems to be beaten out of most people in school or at home. I'll let the
educators in this community help figure out why "project"-based learning
seems to fit some learning styles better than others, but it certainly
feels more natural. I always found the order we did things in physics
class backward. Instead of being taught the formula for determining the
ratio of the required output force to the input force and then trekking
to the lab to see how a lever works, it makes more sense to first
observe the lever in action and then learn the formula for it. This is
how the principle was figured out in the first place, through
observation. You observe an effect, then build a theory to fit the
observation. It may be faster to memorize facts than to experience them,
but then I would argue you don't really own that fact. "Hot" is a pretty
abstract concept until you've burned yourself.
The world is such a fascinating place. How do you design and build a
table? What kind of joints can be used to join the legs to the table?
Which are the best ones for what I'm trying? What periods in history
used different technics? What glues should I use, and when do I use a
screw or a nail, or a brad, or a staple, or a rivet? What woods have
which characteristics? What style do I want? What tools should I use?
The options go on and on. They don't have to; you can jump in and just
do it. Or you can plan and plan and plan. The key takeaway, though, is
that you are going to learn something. And no one can take it from you.
Excerpted from "The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers" by Mark Hatch. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Hatch. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.