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TED@MotorCity

Dale Dougherty: We are makers

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America was built by makers -- curious, enthusiastic amateur inventors whose tinkering habit sparked whole new industries. At TED@MotorCity, MAKE magazine publisher Dale Dougherty says we're all makers at heart, and shows cool new tools to tinker with, like Arduinos, affordable 3D printers, even DIY satellites.

- Tech publisher
A technology and publishing enthusiast, Dale Dougherty founded MAKE magazine and created the world's largest DIY festival, Maker Faire. Full bio

I'm going to have a pretty simple idea
00:15
that I'm just going to tell you over and over until I get you to believe it,
00:17
and that is all of us are makers.
00:20
I really believe that.
00:22
All of us are makers.
00:24
We're born makers.
00:26
We have this ability
00:28
to make things,
00:30
to grasp things with our hands.
00:32
We use words like "grasp" metaphorically
00:34
to also think about understanding things.
00:37
We don't just live, but we make.
00:40
We create things.
00:42
Well I'm going to show you a group of makers
00:44
from Maker Faire and various places.
00:47
It doesn't come out particularly well,
00:49
but that's a particularly tall bicycle.
00:51
It's a scraper bike; it's called --
00:53
from Oakland.
00:55
And this is a particularly small scooter
00:57
for a gentleman of this size.
00:59
But he's trying to power it, or motorize it,
01:01
with a drill.
01:04
(Laughter)
01:06
And the question he had is,
01:08
"Can I do it? Can it be done?"
01:10
Apparently it can.
01:13
So makers are enthusiasts; they're amateurs;
01:15
they're people who love
01:18
doing what they do.
01:20
They don't always even know why they're doing it.
01:22
We have begun organizing makers
01:25
at our Maker Faire.
01:27
There was one held in Detroit here last summer,
01:29
and it will be held again next summer, at the Henry Ford.
01:32
But we hold them in San Francisco --
01:35
(Applause)
01:37
-- and in New York.
01:39
And it's a fabulous event
01:41
to just meet and talk to these people who make things
01:43
and are there to just show them to you and talk about them
01:46
and have a great conversation.
01:49
(Video) Guy: I might get one of those.
01:51
Dale Dougherty: These are electric muffins.
01:53
Guy: Where did you guys get those?
01:55
Muffin: Will you glide with us? (Guy: No.)
01:58
DD: I know Ford has new electric vehicles coming out.
02:01
We got there first.
02:03
Lady: Will you glide with us?
02:05
DD: This is something I call "swinging in the rain."
02:08
And you can barely see it,
02:11
but it's -- a controller at top cycles the water to fall
02:13
just before and after you pass through the bottom of the arc.
02:16
So imagine a kid: "Am I going to get wet? Am I going to get wet?
02:19
No, I didn't get wet. Am I going to get wet? Am I going to get wet?"
02:22
That's the experience of a clever ride.
02:25
And of course, we have fashion.
02:28
People are remaking things into fashion.
02:30
I don't know if this is called a basket-bra,
02:32
but it ought to be something like that.
02:34
We have art students getting together,
02:36
taking old radiator parts
02:38
and doing an iron-pour to make something new out of it.
02:40
They did that in the summer, and it was very warm.
02:42
Now this one takes a little bit of explaining.
02:44
You know what those are, right?
02:46
Billy-Bob, or Billy Bass, or something like that.
02:48
Now the background is -- the guy who did this is a physicist.
02:53
And here he'll explain a little bit about what it does.
02:57
(Video) Richard Carter: I'm Richard Carter,
02:59
and this is the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.
03:01
Choir: ♫ When you hold me in your arms ♫
03:04
DD: This is all computer-controlled
03:06
in an old Volvo.
03:08
Choir: ♫ I'm hooked on a feelin' ♫
03:12
♫ I'm high on believin' ♫
03:17
♫ That you're in love with me ♫
03:22
DD: So Richard came up from Houston last year
03:26
to visit us in Detroit here
03:29
and show the wonderful Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.
03:32
So, are you a maker?
03:35
How many people here would say you're a maker, if you raise your hand?
03:37
That's a pretty good --
03:39
but there's some of you out there that won't admit that you're makers.
03:41
And again, think about it.
03:44
You're makers of food; you're makers of shelter;
03:46
you're makers of lots of different things,
03:49
and partly what interests me today
03:51
is you're makers of your own world,
03:54
and particularly the role that technology has
03:56
in your life.
03:59
You're really a driver or a passenger --
04:01
to use a Volkswagen phrase.
04:03
Makers are in control.
04:05
That's what fascinates them. That's why they do what they do.
04:07
They want to figure out how things work;
04:10
they want to get access to it;
04:12
and they want to control it.
04:14
They want to use it to their own purpose.
04:16
Makers today, to some degree, are out on the edge.
04:18
They're not mainstream.
04:21
They're a little bit radical.
04:23
They're a bit subversive in what they do.
04:25
But at one time,
04:27
it was fairly commonplace to think of yourself as a maker.
04:29
It was not something you'd even remark upon.
04:32
And I found this old video.
04:35
And I'll tell you more about it, but just ...
04:38
(Music)
04:40
(Video) Narrator: Of all things Americans are,
05:04
we are makers.
05:06
With our strengths and our minds and spirit,
05:09
we gather, we form, and we fashion.
05:13
Makers and shapers
05:16
and put-it-togetherers.
05:18
DD: So it goes on to show you
05:20
people making things out of wood,
05:22
a grandfather making a ship in a bottle,
05:24
a woman making a pie --
05:27
somewhat standard fare of the day.
05:29
But it was a sense of pride
05:32
that we made things,
05:35
that the world around us was made by us.
05:37
It didn't just exist.
05:40
We made it, and we were connected to it that way.
05:42
And I think that's tremendously important.
05:45
Now I'm going to tell you one funny thing about this.
05:47
This particular reel --
05:50
it's an industrial video --
05:52
but it was shown in drive-in theaters
05:54
in 1961 --
05:57
in the Detroit area, in fact --
05:59
and it preceded Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."
06:02
(Laughter)
06:04
So I like to think there was something going on there
06:06
of the new generation of makers
06:08
coming out of this, plus "Psycho."
06:10
This is Andrew Archer.
06:13
I met Andrew at one of our community meetings
06:15
putting together Maker Faire.
06:17
Andrew had moved to Detroit
06:19
from Duluth, Minnesota.
06:21
And I talked to his mom,
06:23
and I ended up doing a story on him
06:25
for a magazine called Kidrobot.
06:27
He's just a kid that grew up
06:29
playing with tools instead of toys.
06:32
He liked to take things apart.
06:35
His mother gave him a part of the garage,
06:37
and he collected things from yard sales, and he made stuff.
06:39
And then he didn't particularly like school that much,
06:42
but he got involved in robotics competitions,
06:45
and he realized he had a talent,
06:47
and, more importantly, he had a real passion for it.
06:49
And he began building robots.
06:52
And when I sat down next to him,
06:54
he was telling me about a company he formed,
06:56
and he was building some robots for automobile factories
06:58
to move things around on the factory floor.
07:01
And that's why he moved to Michigan.
07:04
But he also moved here
07:06
to meet other people doing what he's doing.
07:08
And this kind of gets to this important idea today.
07:11
This is Jeff and Bilal and several others here
07:14
in a hackerspace.
07:16
And there's about three hackerspaces or more in Detroit.
07:18
And there's probably even some new ones since I've been here last.
07:21
But these are like clubs --
07:24
they're sharing tools, sharing space,
07:26
sharing expertise in what to make.
07:28
And so it's a very interesting phenomenon
07:31
that's going across the world.
07:34
But essentially these are people that are playing with technology.
07:36
Let me say that again: playing.
07:39
They don't necessarily know what they're doing or why they're doing it.
07:41
They're playing
07:44
to discover what the technology can do,
07:46
and probably to discover what they can do themselves,
07:49
what their own capabilities are.
07:52
Now the other thing that I think is taking off,
07:54
another reason making is taking off today,
07:57
is there's some great new tools out there.
07:59
And you can't see this very well on the screen,
08:02
but Arduino -- Arduino is an open-source hardware platform.
08:04
It's a micro-controller.
08:07
If you don't know what those are, they're just the "brains."
08:09
So they're the brains of maker projects,
08:11
and here's an example of one.
08:14
And I don't know if you can see it that well, but that's a mailbox --
08:17
so an ordinary mailbox and an Arduino.
08:19
So you figure out how to program this,
08:21
and you put this in your mailbox.
08:23
And when someone opens your mailbox,
08:25
you get a notification,
08:28
an alert message goes to your iPhone.
08:30
Now that could be a dog door,
08:33
it could be someone going somewhere where they shouldn't,
08:35
like a little brother into a little sister's room.
08:39
There's all kinds of different things
08:41
that you can imagine for that.
08:44
Now here's something -- a 3D printer.
08:46
That's another tool that's really taken off -- really, really interesting.
08:48
This is Makerbot.
08:51
And there are industrial versions of this --
08:53
about 20,000 dollars.
08:55
These guys came up with a kit version
08:57
for 750 dollars,
08:59
and that means that hobbyists and ordinary folks
09:01
can get a hold of this and begin playing with 3D printers.
09:04
Now they don't know what they want to do with it,
09:07
but they're going to figure it out.
09:09
They will only figure it out by getting their hands on it and playing with it.
09:11
One of the coolest things is, Makerbot sent out an upgrade,
09:14
some new brackets for the box.
09:17
Well you printed out the brackets
09:19
and then replaced the old brackets with the new ones.
09:22
Isn't that cool?
09:25
So makers harvest technology
09:27
from all the places around us.
09:30
This is a radar speed detector
09:32
that was developed from a Hot Wheels toy.
09:34
And they do interesting things.
09:37
They're really creating new areas and exploring areas
09:39
that you might only think --
09:42
the military is doing drones --
09:44
well, there is a whole community of people
09:46
building autonomous airplanes, or vehicles --
09:48
something that you could program to fly on its own,
09:51
without a stick or anything, to figure out what path it's going.
09:53
Fascinating work they're doing.
09:56
We just had an issue on space exploration,
09:58
DIY space exploration.
10:01
This is probably the best time in the history of mankind
10:03
to love space.
10:06
You could build your own satellite and get it into space
10:08
for like 8,000 dollars.
10:11
Think how much money and how many years it took NASA
10:13
to get satellites into space.
10:16
In fact, these guys actually work for NASA,
10:19
and they're trying to pioneer using off-the-shelf components,
10:21
cheap things that aren't specialized
10:24
that they can combine
10:26
and send up into space.
10:28
Makers are a source of innovation,
10:30
and I think it relates back to something
10:32
like the birth of the personal computer industry.
10:34
This is Steve Wozniak. Where does he learn about computers?
10:36
It's the Homebrew Computer Club -- just like a hackerspace.
10:39
And he says, "I could go there all day long
10:42
and talk to people
10:45
and share ideas for free."
10:47
Well he did a little bit better than free.
10:49
But it's important to understand
10:51
that a lot of the origins of our industries --
10:53
even like Henry Ford --
10:56
come from this idea of playing
10:58
and figuring things out in groups.
11:00
Well, if I haven't convinced you that you're a maker,
11:02
I hope I could convince you
11:04
that our next generation should be makers,
11:06
that kids are particularly interested in this,
11:09
in this ability to control the physical world
11:12
and be able to use things like micro-controllers
11:14
and build robots.
11:17
And we've got to get this into schools,
11:19
or into communities in many, many ways --
11:21
the ability to tinker,
11:24
to shape and reshape the world around us.
11:26
There's a great opportunity today --
11:29
and that's what I really care about the most.
11:31
An the answer to the question: what will America make?
11:33
It's more makers.
11:35
Thank you very much.
11:37
(Applause)
11:39

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About the speaker:

Dale Dougherty - Tech publisher
A technology and publishing enthusiast, Dale Dougherty founded MAKE magazine and created the world's largest DIY festival, Maker Faire.

Why you should listen

Dale Dougherty co-founded O'Reilly Media, a technical publisher and conference organizer known for its advocacy of Open Source and the Web. He coined the term "Web 2.0" while developing the Web 2.0 Conference. Dougherty started MAKE magazine, which brings the do-it-yourself mindset to everyday technology -- celebrating the right to tweak, hack and bend any technology to your own will.

Dougherty is the creator of Maker Faire, which leads a growing maker movement in New York, Detroit and the Bay Area. An early Web pioneer, Dougherty was the developer of Global Network Navigator (GNN), the first commercial Web site launched in 1993. He's a former publisher of Web Review, the online magazine for Web designers. Dougherty developed the Hacks series of books to "reclaim the term 'hacking' for the good guys," and he's the author of Sed & Awk.

More profile about the speaker
Dale Dougherty | Speaker | TED.com