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Becoming a Maker [Entrepreneurship
Posted on December 2, 2015 @ 07:44:00 PM by Paul Meagher

I'm a quarter of the way into a book by David Lang called Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything (2013).

Part of what hooked me into reading the book is an epiphany he had that I can relate to - the realization that you are useless.

The jobless wandering and the maker longing were a powerful mixture in the days and weeks after being laid off. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how tragically specialized I had become. I was extremely well prepared for a job that no longer existed, without the fundamental skills I could repurpose elsewhere. I seemed to be far away from being able to build, fix, or create anything of tangible value - any real, physical thing. My so-called skills - emails, social media, and blogging - were hollow substitutes. Now, after hurtling in and out of a digital career, I felt as though I were missing a critical piece of my humanity. ~ p. 8

The realization of my own uselessness came when I was helping a friend for a few days with the building of his house. One guy on the job was frustrated with my lack of ability to measure, cut and carry out directions. Life in university and in front of a computer had not prepared me well for the building trades. I've since taken steps to remedy my lack of practical skills but I've still got a long way to go.

The urge to be a maker is, for some people, based on the realization of being useless and wanting to take steps to acquire what they perceive to be useful skills. In the case of David Lang he eventually got involved in a project to develop an underwater rover vehicle so that they could find out if a treasure was buried in a cave at the bottom of a deep well. A treasure was rumored to be hidden in the well because the pirates apparently went into the cave with gold but didn't leave with it and no one has found it yet.

One of the storylines in the book is how he came to acquire the range of skills required to contribute to an underwater robot project in a fairly short amount of time. By hearing about his story and how he was able to acquire the practical technical skills he needed you can get a better sense of how to become a maker yourself. The book discusses the maker culture, the internet resources that makers use, and the maker mentality. If you have heard about makers and wondered what it was all about this is a good book to get you up to speed. It might be a good book for a high school student who likes to tinker with electronics or someone who wants to run with the geeks and build cool stuff.

To become a maker you have to be dedicated to learning alot of technical skills so that you can practice making competently. The book goes into some detail on the types of skills that makers acquire and how they acquire them. In contrast to Maker books that deal with just the technical aspects of making, this book provides you with an unabashedly personal journey into becoming a maker. This makes it easy to read.

In some ways becoming a maker is about engaging in a lifelong learning quest to become more skilled in practical and technical crafts. While Making has become associated with working with microcontrollers, harvesting electronics from old appliances, and hacking various electronic devices it is more general than that. Taking ownership over fixing your own vehicle, building or renovating your home, or growing your own food are all examples of skills a maker might want to master as well and it might define your particular brand of making.

The maker culture is a vibrant and growing culture and this is a good book for gaining some insight into the types of characters who engage in it, their motivations, the resources they use, the importance of engaging with the maker community and how it is evolving. It is an inspiring read and might inspire you to take up the cause of becoming a maker yourself.

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