Maker Culture

The Maker movement is a growing, global collective of people committed to tinkering, building, programming, and developing technology for personal rather than industrial applications. I am interested in the Maker movement both as a participant and as a researcher, taking part in Maker Faires while also trying to understand the impact and potential of the movement.

While I interned at Intel, I was responsible for coordinating the company’s sponsorship of 2012 Bay Area Maker Faire.  This included organizing volunteers for Education Day as well as developing and running the activities for the Intel booth, Make Your World, in conjunction with The Lab at Rockwell Group.  I undertook a similar role at the 2013 Portland Mini-Maker Faire, where we ran the “Sketch It, Play It” activity to introduce kids to the basics of circuit creation and conductivity.  I also maintained a personal presence at both events, under the auspices of Tanenbaum Fabrications and the Steampunk Academy, running workshops on Steampunk prop making and jewelry making using electronic components..

In the last year I have been involved with several Portland area programs aimed at introducing high school girls to Make-related topics like 3D printing, laser cutting, programming, game design and electronics: the “Girls get IT” summer camp and the ChickTech: High School weekend workshop.  I am currently doing contract work with the Corporate Affairs Group at Intel to develop curriculum as part of their involvement with the Maker Education Initiative; specifically, I am working on a summer-camp style workshop to introduce middle-school girls to the tools and ideas of the maker movement.

For the 2013 CHI conference, I co-authored a paper called Democratizing Technology: Pleasure, Expressiveness and Utility in DIY and Maker Culture.  This paper takes a critical look at the political, social, and economic systems that impact (and are impacted) by making.  It is grounded in ethnographic work within maker communities in both the developed and the developing worlds, and it advances a view of making as an international phenomenon with enormous implications for how technology is designed, manufactured, and distributed.  As a professional researcher I have worked as an advocate for the maker community, and for the importance of making, while also working to build a more critical understanding of the impact of these practices.