Discussed in this review: The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch. McGraw-Hill, 2013, 256 pages. Buy at Amazon.
What’s a maker? Chris Anderson puts it this way in his book Makers: “We are born Makers (just watch a child’s fascination with drawings, blocks, Legos, or crafts), and many of us retain that love in our hobbies and passions. It’s not just about workshops, garages, and man caves.”
So being a maker is not only about 3D printing, CNC Machines, welding, woodworking, hacking, and tinkering, but also cooking, gardening, knitting, and sewing. I suggest that writers and teachers consider themselves makers from here on out. The word “poet” in Greek also means maker.
Maker Movement Texts
Though Chris Anderson’s well-researched Makers points out that we are on the verge of a new industrial revolution, it is Mark Hatch’s The Maker Movement Manifesto that captures the revolutionary spirit. Hatch has raw tungsten running through his veins. He extrudes thermoplastic when he sweats. When he shits, there’s enough spare parts left in the bowl to build a robot.
Anderson’s book is a great read, yet he is the editor-in-chief at Wired. He’s measured and mild-mannered in comparison to Hatch’s mission-from-God mode of discourse.
Hatch’s book doesn’t use the term manifesto lightly. This is not just marketing. He’s a believer. He converted me. He’s got the 12-step program for frustrated knowledge workers and people pushed out of the last remaining manufacturing jobs. Come on out to the woodshed, the service is about to start. And I have to say he sold me on it. So much so that I had to go out to San Francisco and see what this TechShop was all about. I had been to the Arch Reactor, a hacker space in St. Louis for a 3D Printing Meetup Group and learned a few things there. But TechShop is on another level.
Before becoming the CEO of TechShop, Mark Hatch served as the director of commuter services at Kinkos. Yet Hatch’s resume got more interesting, as he explains: “I picked up an MBA at the feet of the grandfather of management, Peter Drucker, and I am a trained revolutionary, thanks to the Special Forces training I received on my way to becoming a Green Beret.”
What’s He Building In There?
Hatch knows that making is that essential human endeavor. Though beavers build damns, ants create hills, and various primates fashion and use tools, it is humans who make and share. “We were born to make,” he says, as the church organ swells. And dear reader, at this point I’m catching the Holy Ghost. Believe me. This is the desire to make and share inside each of us. We are all inventors. But many of us have closed off our selves to making. People tell themselves they’re not artists (writers, inventors or whatever). We fear ridicule. We fear frustration when our work doesn’t match up with the idea we have of it in our head. But we are all quietly burning up to make something.
If I could heat Hatch up to a high enough temperature, I could boil his thinking down to a turn on a phrase coined by Descartes. At the molten core, Hatch seems to say: I make, therefore I exist. And like Descartes before him, this applies to the world at large as well as to the self.
The Void That Making Fills
Hatch also points out a strange phenomenon that exists in much of the white-collar world: the amount of pride a “very intelligent, type A, hard-charging, competitive professional” invests in a product that has been packaged and shipped to stores is not in any realistic relationship to the amount of input they had on the product or even the packaging.
This is not just another case of a future CEO taking credit for others’ work. Hatch explains this strange proportion: “It isn’t the size of the impact that is significant; it is that there was impact and it was made tangible.” As the Associate Editor of Sou’wester, I experienced this disproportionate amount of pride every time a new issue came back from the printer. My babies are here, I think to myself. The amount of pride I feel wouldn’t be morally sound unless I wrote every word in the magazine, designed every bit of layout, graphic, and even invented new environmentally friendly ink (the composition of which I’d have to share open source-style).
I’ll let Hatch’s last words close us out here as well:
Let me finish with an invitation to come on out and take a free tour of one of our shop locations. These are friendly places, and we like to share. But be ready at the end of the tour for our basic question: What do you want to make? And be ready to develop into a new version of you, because answering that question could change your life or even the world.