Dedicated collaboration hubs are satisfying our fundamental ‘want’ to build while weaving together a larger network of support for makers of all abilities.
Remember career day back in elementary school? That time where doctors, lawyers and firefighters took center stage to explain the ins and outs of their jobs while you sat back and soaked in potential futures?
Fast forward to today, and the prospect of siloing ourselves into career paths seems slightly old-fashioned. Approximately 135 million adults in the United States fall under the catchall category of ‘Makers’. This trend signals a shift in how people view themselves and opens up a whole new level of community interaction — where people share resources and knowledge and actually help each other innovate.
Obviously, traditional jobs will never go away, but there’s a great opportunity for rethinking how we support those millions who will always be tinkerers at heart, or whose career paths are less defined.
One entrepreneur considering how we bring more Makers into the fold is Bethany Koby of Tech Will Save Us. Along with co-founder Daniel Hirschmann, Koby’s United Kingdom-based company provides DIY kits and resources for people wanting to embark on their own journeys as tech makers.
We wanted to get her thoughts on the growing number of collaboration hubs — or makerspaces — that provide budding innovators centralized access to resources and support.
For Koby, these collaboration spaces are not only providing essential physical space and community, but they’re also satisfying something universally intrinsic in people of every age, color and creed: the need to create.
“As humans, we’re makers. We feel satisfied making and producing things,” said Koby. “It’s a fundamental, core part of who we are.”
Though the act of creation is nothing new, it’s the social aspects around it that are rapidly evolving. We can connect and share with like-minded makers more easily than ever before. The result is a snowballing effect that encourages more people to to dig deeper into their passions and share what they’ve learned.
Along the way, they may even find that someone else takes notice.
“All kinds of movements have bubbled up because of our inherent need to make things,” said Koby. “Look no further than the food industry right now. You have novice chefs creating amazing and complex recipes at home and and then they go and become stars on the Food Network.”
Part of this inherent ‘want’ to make is we invest a little of ourselves in the things we create. It’s like a mirror staring right back at you. “When you make something, you care about it differently,” she said.
Koby says there’s a fear factor in creating something so personal. “People think, I can’t do that. I’m not a programmer. I don’t know how to design stuff,” Koby said.
As with any venture into the unknown, fear is either something that consumes you or that which you overcome. It’s here where community hubs can help bring out the best in people by creating the right support systems.
“Making in community is different than making alone,” said Koby. “It goes back to the confidence question. Building within a community scenario supports you and takes away some of that fear.”
Building is better together, in other words, and the spaces we create should reflect that. Koby says it’s not about lone geniuses trying to solve a problem. Rather, it’s about a diverse community of problem solvers using their unique skill sets to come up with solutions where the sum is greater than the individual parts.
Collaboration hubs can help get people out of their shells and overcome some intrinsic hurdles to making, but we wondered if the maker movement itself been inclusive to enough people? Not quite, says Koby.
“I think the maker movement has been speaking to a very excited, but a small group of people.”
And for Koby, enabling more and more people to fulfill their inherent want to create is what’s truly exciting. Especially when it comes to young people.
“We’ve had lots of experiences with kids who are hard to reach or not doing well in school,” says Koby. “But you tell them to go and design something on their own and all of a sudden, you’re having a completely different conversation and a completely different attention span and excitement about learning skills.”
Collaboration hubs provide the physical and emotional structures for helping people create, but can also accelerate learning around a more curated, but niche curriculum that falls outside the scope of traditional education.
A collaboration studio by day might be an adult-education classroom by night, and also help identify the some of the skill sets people need to hone going forward. Like so many in the maker community, Koby thinks it might be high time for us to rethink where and when education takes place.
“We think that 21st century learning happens around the kitchen table and in the classroom. These kinds of skills and this kind of learning isn’t just going to happen in an educational scenario or through curriculum, it’s going to happen through families making together and people making in makerspaces.”
The “Maker’s Manual” spotlights the do-it-yourself Maker Movement and how new computing technologies are helping democratize the creation of things once limited to craftsmen and professionals. This 10-week series from PSFK and iQ by Intel will explore trends and feature interviews with artists, inventors and entrepreneurs who are turning their ideas and dreams into reality.