Making it – our DIY future

I’m not exactly a maker – I don’t spend a lot of time building or deconstructing devices or hacking what I’ve bought. I’m not a regular reader of Make Magazine, though it’s edited by my friend and former bOING bOING colleague Mark Frauenfelder, and I’ve always appreciated his world view… Mark’s a mashup of wide-eyed innocent and wise sage, and his head’s all full of fascinating cartoons and futuristic visions. When I curated a digital convergence track for SXSW Interactive in 2006, I included a session on DIY and convergence and contacted Mark, who suggested Phil Torrone, who signed on and suggested Limor Fried and someone from Make’s sister magazine, Craft. It was a great session; the next year Phil and Limor keynoted to a packed room at the conference. I realized there was a huge DIY movement emerging and they were channeling those energies. Consider that the world of the future may not be a slick, standardized manufactured environment but a world of personal reconfigurable environments, highly individualized; a world where everyone’s expected to have gadget literacy and everything in our environment has an open, hackable architecture.

A couple of years ago, after the first Maker Faire in California, I emailed Mark and suggested they try it in Austin. They did, and as a result I found myself working an installation on the DIY Home of the Future based on Derek Woodgate’s research and Dave Demaris’s hard work, along with Bon Davis and several others. (Our Plutopia collective and annual party emerged from this endeavor – long story.) I wrote a couple of DIY home pieces for Worldchanging at the time, posted here and here. Derek had done a lot of thinking about the future of personal built environments, again highly reconfigurable by “the user.” This assumes a couple of things: 1) that we evolve the gadget literacy I mentioned earlier, and we see that in the DIY/Maker movement as early adopters on the today’s fringes, and 2) homes and gadgets and devices will be increasingly open, hackable, and reconfigurable. To that end, Make has published a Maker’s Bill of Rights, and Jeremy Faludi at Worldchanging riffs on the concept, discussing design for hackability as green design. Note that the Bill of Rights page at Make has a link to the Leatherman Squirt, aka “Warranty Voider.”

Author: Jon Lebkowsky

Co-wrangler of Plutopia News Network, cohost Radio Free Plutopia. Podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. Former editor/publisher, FringeWare Review; associate editor at bOING bOING and Factsheet Five; writer at Mondo 2000, 21C, Wired, Whole Earth Review, Austin Chronicle; sub-editor at Millennium Whole Earth Catalog; blogger at Worldchanging. Digital culture maven, podcaster, writer, dharma observer, enzyme. On The WELL, Cohost of VC (virtual communities), Media, and Civil War (.ind) conferences.