Follow-up from our Sheffield meetup

Photo by Tamar Millen
Photo by Tamar Millen

On Wednesday 20 April, we gathered in the bar of the Roco in Sheffield to talk about what a Maker Assembly in Sheffield could look like. Here are my notes from the event. If you’d like to make suggestions for the event, comments are open on this post, so please add your thoughts below.


I said I’d follow up with some theme ideas that seemed to come out of the sessions. It’s impossible to capture or synthesise everyone’s ideas, but hopefully this will include something of interest to most of you.

Date

Current planned date, still TBC, is Wednesday 31st August. Please pencil it in.

Speakers

Do you have something to share about the topic below. If so, let us know

Themes

1. Scaling up, sustainability, economic impact

Questions about a ‘maker city’. Does it maker sense for Sheffield to brand itself based on its past?
Moving from being a small-scale maker to a larger scale manufacturer, running a maker business.
Local, national, international impact. Is bigger better?

2. Amateurism

(Maybe the opposite agenda to the above)
Should we resist the path of the ‘hardware startup’, the urge to turn everything into economic activity, jobs, etc.
The importance of free experimentation vs prescribed work
Innovation is not equivalent to ‘new products’ but ‘new thinking’
How can we learn from the failings of previous tech movements (especially the web, and Silicon Valley utopianism)

3. Diversity

In people, their experience, what they make.
In gender, ethnicity, sexuality, physical or social needs
Self-identifying as a maker, or not

4. Alternative his/herstories

C-base mythology (and other self-authored maker myths?)
The O’Reilly brand of Maker (TM)

5. Performance

Music (who was the accordian player mentioned?)
A making performance

6. Some other topics which we mentioned, but only briefly

Hi-tech/lowtech/trailing edge tech
Open Source
Adaptive design/prosthetics/hacking the body
Education, and engagement (new makers). I feel this is more the territory of STEM groups and/or Maker Faire.

Other agendas

Some things came up which we might be able to address through activities, stalls or other features at the event:

1. Connecting up

Attending and talking to others is a good start, but maybe we could have a ‘would like to meet’ wall at the event, or a ‘I can give/I can get’ noticeboard, or some other way of surfacing connections. Lightning talks (3 mins to say what you do and don’t do) – but we would need to be careful this doesn’t become a ‘me and my cool project showcase).
 
If you’re interested in helping facilitate this, please get in touch.

2. Diversity of attendees

A lot of people don’t use twitter, or don’t identify as makers, or just don’t feel like this event could be for them. We need help communicating about the event to more diverse communities, and figuring out how to reach them. We may need help designing the event format so people with different needs can enjoy it. If you can help with this, please get in touch.
Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their ideas.

3 thoughts on “Follow-up from our Sheffield meetup”

  1. Interested to know more about all the above and be involved but particularly interested if there is an education debate to have. Making is disappearing in our schools, measure culture it’s said is killing creativity in schools, what’s the picture really like? Crafts Council and NSEAD have been doing some related research. If new makers are to be nurtured where will this happen and where will opportunities come from?

  2. “Education, and engagement (new makers). I feel this is more the territory of STEM groups and/or Maker Faire.”

    I think there’s scope for discussing if education and engagement/new makers should be the territory of STEM groups and/or Maker Faires? (Out of curiosity, what do people see as the difference, if any, between a maker space/community and a STEM/STEAM group?)

    Some personal points of view:
    1. I see the maker community as being a support network that encourages and creates opportunities for education (either self-directed or facilitated).
    2. If everyone encourages new makers then it creates more opportunities and makes it easier for people to hear about it and join in.
    3. Maker Faires can be great inspiration (and I enjoy them) but attendees need to know what opportunities there are / who can help, once they’re inspired. (Maker groups attending the Faires can help with that.)

    Picking up on the post above; what’s the role of formal education in this? And what are the connections between maker space/communities, STEM/STEAM groups etc and schools etc.? What should those connections be?

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