Paul Graham's got a short thought piece up on makers and the Hardware Renaissance. Great read. Link to his latest thought piece here.
I recently joined denhac (www.denhac.org), a hacker space based in Denver and it's full of makers. People who love hardware But they also love software, technology, music, art and media.
There's a trend here. A big one. I think the cost of creating hardware is dropping. Atoms will always cost more than bits to produce, but the distance in cost between the two is closing fast. The cost of the tools needed to create are dropping extremely fast and the capabilities of these tools are skyrocketing.
When I really think about it, these hackerspaces are kind of the new computer club, moose lodge/coffee shop/bar/hangout/workspace and free schools of the 21st century.
I suspect they may be even more, like the beginnings of new local media creation points. A place where media makers come together as well as technology geeks. An intersection where the cool kids from all the clicks meet, and. well.. create.
Our denhac, for instance, is for us a club, a place to work, an impromptu movie theater, a recording, podcasting and live internet radio studio, a 3D print shop, a well stocked toolshed for hacking together a range of silicon based projects you'd be surprised at the sophistication of and a university to take classes on damn near any subject you can imagine; for example: denhac has in the last few months, had classes on Synthetic Biology (hacking DNA with $3000 home 'labs'), Lock Sport (picking locks), Serious Computer Security (think: ROP Exploitation and associated protection techniques) Game development, Home Beer Brewing with microcontrollers, Silicon Mask Making (Level: Hollywood), DEFCON 'badge' creation (basically a custom computer that does wild stuff built into your DEFCON badge) and on and on and on. It's a 'true' Free School where those who can teach something interesting self organize and present classes for any interested person to attend and learn.
|We've got a van. I don't know why. But we've got a van.|
We're also getting ready to put together a proposal for a Low Power FM (LPFM) license (something that's going to become available mid next year... a 100 watt FM station that covers your local community). This would make us the first hackerspace with it's own live radio station (we already have an internet radio station, why not go retro AND analog!).
|Creating DEFCON badges, en mass|
Now, put all this stuff together and what you really have is a place that attracts intelligent, interesting, creative and slightly crazy people. The ones that don't really fit into the 'corporate' culture of a big company (although many members work at these big companies). You'll get lots of startup types. People who like creating things because they feel the need to. Because they want one. Because that damn thing is stupid and and I can do so much better. And when you get these kind of people together, well, really good things happen.
I'll even go so far as to say that, if your town doesn't have a hackerspace, you might think about getting to work on creating one. It's going to be the place that attracts all the creatives. It's where the cool kids will hang. It's where the future's, very likely, being invented... right now.