Monday, April 24, 2006

The Maker Faire - modern Americana

We were due to have an Earth Day party on Sunday but we cancelled - thought it would rain although we barely squeaked by without it (it's been an odd year for weather here in CA). Instead, we went to the Maker Fair, which was a total geekfest. It was put on by the people who do Make Magazine, which is a magazine for people who ... make things. And heeere is the Make Blog, which today seems to feature a knitted motorcycle!! The Maker Faire seems to embody Silicon Valley and America to me. You know the Wierd Roadside Attractions that punctuate the obscure tourist roads of America? Shoe trees, large coffee pots, large twine balls,and giant cow hamburger stands? Well, the Make Faire is those same exact people - fifty years later. But now the tools are a LOT better than the occasional decorated concrete bunker in South Dakota. Honest. The people who make stuff in the Make Magazine articles are fascinating. They make really cool stuff. They're obsessed, they're creative, and ... let's be honest here: it's a lot more fun to visit them in a faire than to be married to many of 'em, in my opinion. Sometimes, I think that my husband's vocation/avocation (inventing technologies and creating companies) (also known as severely marketing-based entrepreneurialism - ahem) is kind of obnoxious. I mean, why can't he just decide to go and make wine in Umbria, for heaven's sake? (Can you tell I miss him when he's gone?) This making of companies is a real timesink. Then I meet people who spend literally years of their time assembling, say, Babbage's Difference Engine out of legos and Meccano. Can we talk about this? Show of hands from wives reading this please. Would you severely harm your husband if this was his hobby? Gosh, I wonder if there's a "hobbyist quencher" series of items cooked up by partners of Make exhibitors. Hobbyist zapper? I can see it now. "Honey, could you please take out the garbage." Three days later. "ZZZZZAAAAAP!!!" Gosh, I'll have to work on that. Makes some gaming and the odd planning of new products seem positively mainstream. BTW, the new Lego Mindstorms were shown at the show. They look very nice, although for the 8-plus range. Lego Mindstorms are programmable robots (and the soundtrack for that link will give you a headache within 12 seconds.) Coming up: A discussion about why there are lots and lots of games for the 4 to 7 range about all sorts of things, but ABSOLUTELY NO JUNIOR SIMULATORS. Is this moronic or what? Showing my geek roots, I remain...

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