What is a Maker Night?

As part of our residency at The Public we’re hosting 6 Maker Nights.

In essence a Maker Night is a bunch of people hanging out together. It doesn’t matter what background, skills or job you have: at Maker Nights all the differences fuel each other and, as people start to dream up amazing things, it’s generally possible to pool all the bits of stuff everyone knows and end up with a collective ability to make the idea a reality.

Giving it a go is the most valuable skill you can come with.

Make Magazine published a blog post yesterday that describes a Dutch novel written during World War II. Here’s part of the story that it quotes:

We have to establish a club for boys with a technical hobby to, like Verburg so strikingly said, get grand results by cooperation. A club with its own clubhouse, where you can experiment, where you can make a mess and loud noise, where you can be your own boss and disturb nobody! A club of merely enthusiasts, of boys, who love technique, one with their hobby! A club for radio, photography, film, chemistry, electricity and more! A club that has never been, but that we will found! Our club…. The Hobby Club!Leonard de Vries, “The Boys of the Hobby Club.”

Nearly seven decades later, we can confidently replace the word ‘boys’ with ‘people’, and point to the growing number of hackspaces, makerspaces, FabLabs and craft nights that are today’s versions of the Hobby Club.

But what about this emphasis on technology?

I really like this short documentary that, amongst other things, talks about the importance of making technology accessible through looking at something, knowing it, understanding it, taking it apart, putting it back together and remaking something new.

We Make Things. from Tunnel Media on Vimeo.

Wikipedia describes Maker Culture as being an extension of “a technology-based extension of DIY culture” [source] Here’s Ken Denmead’s take on it in another recent Makezine post:

The DIY and Maker Movements [..] are filled with people who want to figure out how to make or do stuff on their own, rather than purchasing pre-packaged goods or services. Are the two movements different things? I don’t think so. I think they’re two circles on a Venn diagram that overlap almost completely. Perhaps there’s a bit more art and design in the Maker Movement circle (what we might call the “Burning Man Influence”), and a bit more changing-your-car’s-oil-in-the-driveway in the DIY circle, but otherwise the passions for creating, building, and sharing are the same.Ken Denmead, “Why the Maker Movement is Here to Stay”

For me the Maker Nights are all about the people who come to them and the unpredictable things that bubble up out of conversations. They’re what you make them.

Perhaps this post should have been titled “Why is a Maker Night”. I think the answer to that involves a combination of “because it’s important” and “because we all have an urge to dream and to make things”.

Our first Maker Night is on Tuesday – see you there.

Mitch Altman on Hackerspaces, and the Pluses and Minuses of Technology

Mitch Altman, one of the co-founders of the Noisebridge hackspace in San Francisco, was recently in Bristol talking about the pros and cons of technology.

Here’s an excerpt of his presentation at the Pervasive Media Studio in which he encourages us to be aware of the implications of the technologies in our lives.

If this is your first encounter with the idea of hackspaces, then we think Noisebridge is as good an example of any to show some of the possibilities involved.

Here’s the wikipedia definition of a hackspace:

A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace, or hackspace) is a community-operated workspace where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital art or electronic art, can meet, socialise and/or collaborate.Hackerspace

…and here is a passage Noisebridge had on their wiki:

Noisebridge is a space for sharing, creation, collaboration, research, development, mentoring, and of course, learning. Noisebridge is also more than a physical space, it’s a community with roots extending around the world. […] We make stuff. So can you.

We love this video, too:

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

All of these put the emphasis on community and the uniqueness that comes from the people involved.

We’re running some fortnightly Maker Nights at The Public over the summer. Think of them as mini hackspaces.

Come along and be a part of the community.

Getting started


Although we’ve been plotting towards this summer of great stuff for a good few months now, yesterday felt like an official beginning.

I went to The Public to check out our new home for the next couple of months and start getting to know people. There was loads going on, but I managed to meet lots of the staff and also the resident knitting group who were busy working away in one corner of the café.

I had to ask one of the ladies to show me what she was doing, but really, really slowly – my eyes just couldn’t keep up with what her fingers were doing! I learned about ‘tatting’ – not something I had come across before and also had some really interesting conversations about our plans for skills sharing and mixing up tech and traditional crafts.


There’s got to be something we can do with these at some point too!

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