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.