These 'Alpha Geeks' are already living in the future (photos)
by CNET News.com | May 16, 2012, 8:00pm PDT | Image 1 of 20
Speaking yesterday at the Palo Alto Research Center at the MAKE Hardware Innovation Workshop, Tim O'Reilly addressed a room full these "Alpha Geeks" -- 150 or so big thinkers who are on the leading edge of the DIY maker community.
"Great things begin with people having fun, but they don't end there", O'Reilly said. He sees MAKE's mission as finding these interesting technologies and people who are innovating from the edge, and amplifying their effectiveness, taking their passion and desire to have an impact on the world and enabling a commercial narrative -- making creativity sustainable by making it a viable business.
We're going through a dynamic shift -- the future is here, O'Reilly says, it's just not evenly distributed yet. Silicon Valley started with hardware, and through the community and open-source environment, hardware is again redefining the maker movement, with makers' tech turning into consumer products at incredible speeds.
Image 1 of 20
No messages found
Maybe the intangible product is...
No one fixes their appliances or electronics anymore. If it stops working, pitch it out, and spend $50 at WalMart for a new one. It's a shame, because now there's all this waste from shoddy products built cheaply enough to compete in a never-ending price war, and nothing is made to last. Cars and stereos from the 70s might still work. The little Magnavox bookshelf system you buy now looks like something out of an arcade and will probably won't work right in two years.
On the other hand, technology has progressed to the point that really incredibly sophisticated tools are available to anyone. I can buy a multi-channel digital oscilloscope for a few hundred dollars, and troubleshoot Arduino circuits running at 16MHz from a 9v battery, and communicating with devices on cellular or Ethernet networks. Or I can build my own amp. If I learn a little about electronics, I can make MP3 players with touch interfaces (hey, it's no iPod, but it works), or a programmable thermostat (I guess you could just buy a similar package, installed, for about $2k...), or maybe just give up a few hours of consuming TV commercials and build something with no practical purpose other than hands-on experience with how things work.
So, it's not about the crazy, hacked projects someone else builds, it's a change in the way you, as a Maker, see the world. It's about taking the back panel off a manual espresso maker and thinking... I could add an LCD and PID controller and turn this thing into an industrial-grade machine that wakes up before I do and costs 1/3rd the price the coffee shop down the street paid for theirs. Or, a self-watering lawn. Or a home-made ECU to fuel-inject a VW Bug.
Whatever it is that takes you back to middle-school science fairs, where you could dream up anything, and you were encouraged to try it and see what happens. It doesn't always work out -- at least at first -- but eventually you come up with some really great ideas.
On that note, I forget who said it, but it's one of my favorite quotes (paraphrased, I'm sure): I didn't fail, I just succeeded in eliminating another way that doesn't work.
Ya Gotta Be A Maker
You become the inventor and maker of new things rather than just programming games or videos or something else with somebody else's programs or languages. And it is something millions of Americans of all ages and all genders and all education levels and all "classes" are doing. I bet you don't even know you are actually using the end results of some "experiments" by makers right now. So look into it before you start to pooh, pooh it. Oh yes, some fail but give a lesson and some work and have been taken up very seriously by investors. The best I've seen so far come from a 14 year old girl and some young boys who aren't yet hidebound by the naysayers.
Yep, it's just a mindset
"Wannabee" Not - Just at step one
There are no posts from your contacts.
Adding contacts is simple. Just mouse over any member's photo or click any member's name then click the "Follow" button. You can easily manage your contacts within your account contacts page.