The “How to Make A Makerspace” workshop, organized by Artisan’s Asylum and MAKE Magazine, opened February 1 at the Artisan’s Asylum, which is located in the former Ames Envelope Factory in Somerville, MA. Gui Cavalcanti is a co-founder of Artisan’s Asylum and the conference organizer. He opened the conference talking about the two-and-a-half year history of Artisan’s Asylum, which made the big move last year to its current 40,000 sq. ft. facility.

I gave the keynote.  The core idea in my presentation is that makerspaces are the on-ramp for new people to become makers and participate in the Maker movement. I used the analogy of marathoning, and that the growth in participation in marathons was due to 1) greater participation by amateurs, not pros;  2) distributed organization of more races of different sizes in more locations; 3) better training for more people through local track clubs. Marathoning, like making, is hard and individuals require support and training to become involved. Makerspaces provide access to tools, materials and training, and they should be welcoming spaces that invite anyone who is curious to develop skills, start their own projects, and become active participants in the Maker community.

I mentioned the importance of getting makerspaces into many places in our community, using different models and different missions.   Getting makerspaces into schools might be our biggest but most important challenge.

I presented some preliminary results on a Makerspace survey, which was hastily organized (by my team) in the week prior to the workshop.   These results reflect about 35 makerspaces.  We’d like to gather a broader sampling.   (If you are a Makerspace organizer, please fill out this survey and make sure you register your space in the directory on this site.) You can find several more slides about the survey in my talk (here’s the rough video).  Again, I emphasize that these results are preliminary, but I’d like to work with the community to gather information on makerspaces.

Membership in Makerspaces

 Friday dinner at Artisan's Asylum

I hope we can change two things about makerspaces as they are today. One is that “What happens in hackerspaces stays in hackerspaces.” I’d like to see spaces and the people who use them generate more information about what’s happening — sharing more broadly and consistently the cool and innovative projects, events, classes and activities that go on in the space. Secondly, I’d like to see makerspaces reach new audiences — it’s not just a “guy thing” or a “geek thing”. We need more women and people of diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds to participate.  We should not just be open and welcoming to new people but we should also export what goes on in a makerspace into other locations in the community such as libraries, schools and museums. We are all makers of spaces, and these spaces are makers of makers.

Here is the PDF of my presentation: Makerspaces-sm.

A rough video version is available on YouTube:  Video of Keynote

Follow #mksp on Twitter and +makeamakerspace.

Notable workshop attendees included Harvard University, Yale University, the City of Lowell, Indiana University, Northeastern University, the Mass Cultural Council, ArtistLink, the Ames Free Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, TechShop, Tufts, Northeastern, Mancuso Business Development Group, Duxbury Free Library, Goodwin College, Wheaton College, Peabody Institute Library, New Mexico Highlands University, and Central Connecticut State University…. to say nothing of all of the named spaces that aren’t affiliated with institutions, including two men who are organized a makerspace in Guatemala and several other international attendees.

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