The Unisphere from the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens

Since Maker Faire Bay Area, I have had the privilege of participating in vibrant Maker Faires in Barcelona, Xi’an (in China), Singapore, Tokyo, and Moscow. Also, during that time, we did something of a test-run of a Maker Faire in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Maker Faires have spread around the world — over 200 this year in 40 countries. This weekend the World Maker Faire takes place in New York City for the eighth time.

Held at the New York Hall of Science in Queens on September 23 & 24, World Maker Faire is a cultural event that celebrates our ability to create, build, invent, tinker and make things that are wonderful. It’s an opportunity to get hands-on with new technology and tools. Makers love to share their clever and fascinating projects along with their know-how. More importantly, at Maker Faire we get to experience maker culture — its joy, enthusiasm, generosity, and optimism. Maker Faire connects each of us to the world around and to makers all around the world.

Every child should have this experience for themselves. It opens their eyes and their minds. This is not something that they will experience on television or iPads. Or learn at school.

Maker culture is different than consumer culture, which tells us that we will be satisfied only when we can buy something. Participation in maker culture offers the deeper satisfaction of curiosity, exploration and problem-solving. It rewards us for developing our talents and being resourceful and resilient. You can’t buy what you find here at Maker Faire.

Come be part of a maker community that is open and inclusive of all kinds of people of all ages and abilities. Makers share a common toolset and skillset but it is their mindset that allows them to thrive in an ever-changing world.

The Future 50 Years On

In 1964, the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov came to the World’s Fair in Queens, the same place where Maker Faire is held. Asimov was asked to think about what he might see at a World’s Fair in 50 years. He made a number of fairly accurate predications.

  • Robots will neither be common nor very good.
  • Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with “Robot-brains.”
  • Only unmanned ships will have landed on Mars, though a manned expedition will be in the works.
  • The world will have few routine jobs that cannot be done better by some machine than by any human being.

Asimov predicted that “mankind will suffer badly from the disease of boredom.” If machines do the work of humans, what will humans do? He said that in the future “the lucky few who can be involved in creative work of any sort will be the true elite of mankind, for they alone will do more than serve a machine.”

I suspect that Asimov is right that creative work will be even more valuable in an age of increasing automation. I hope he’s wrong, though, that only a lucky few can do it. What we see at Maker Faire is that many people can do this creative work, and even more would be able to do it, if they were offered some encouragement to do so. We can learn to take advantage of science and technology while learning what each of us can do to change the world.

Dale Dougherty, founder of Make & Makezine and creator of Maker Faire


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