About this project
Hi, my name is David. I'm writing a book about making and makers, and I need your support to make it happen.
"Wildest Dream" Goal: Make it to 1,000 Backers!
Here's how you can help/join:
1) Pledge for the book!
2) Spread the word! Send this link to friend who has an idea of something they want to build/create.
"David Lang is an inspiration to anyone who has dreamed of making, but has been hesitant to start because they feel they don't have the necessary skills. As David will show you, all it takes is curiosity, passion, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes."
- Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of MAKE Magazine, founder of Boing Boing, and author of Made by Hand
"Many entrepreneurs have heard the prediction that 'hardware is the new software.' Well, David is laying out a lean approach to building the right skills to help you get into the action." - Patrick Vlaskovits, entrepreneur and author of The Lean Entrepreneur
By this point, you've probably heard of the maker movement. A growing contingent of garage tinkerers who have been steadily building an impressive (and mostly grass-roots) infrastructure of maker/hackerspaces, new digital fabrication tools, and online collaboration platforms. By now, the makers have been fairly well covered by mainstream media like CNN, The New York Times, and The Economist. (If you want the full past, present and future of the maker movement, Chris Anderson's new book Makers is a wonderful read.)
It's one thing to read about this curious maker world, but quite another to immerse yourself into it, which is what I've done for the past year and a half. And what I've found has been both riveting and encouraging.
After losing my office job in the summer of 2011, I was forced to rethink my career trajectory. All of a sudden, it seemed that my education and work experience had prepared me for a future that wasn’t coming. The "knowledge" that I thought was my ticket in life was now the source of my insecurity, the reason I felt distanced from work that is meaningful, tangible, and measurable. Instead of scrambling back into the rat race and praying for a new job that wouldn’t vanish, I decided to focus on building the fundamental skills I had somehow managed to skip over; the skills that would enable me to create, develop or repair something useful or essential. I was looking to create a bridge between foundational knowledge of how things work and what their potential can be with the help of the latest technology. The first step was to recreate the shop classes my high school never offered. I immersed myself in this new maker movement by spending two months taking every class I could at TechShop in San Francisco: wood working, laser cutting, CNC machining, CAD, welding, and everything in between.
In a span of several months I flipped the switch from being an interested onlooker to an active participant. In less than a year, I went from a maker novice to card-carrying evangelist; from a tool-illiterate enthusiast to a partner in a fledgling underwater robot business. What I thought was an insurmountable disadvantage of never having used a soldering iron, turned out to be a phantom obstacle. Now, my biggest concern is how we're going to fill all the orders for the robot kit I helped develop. It's a much better problem to have.
And believe me, I'm the last person who ever thought I'd be singing this tune. Having labeled myself as mechanically incompetent and manually illiterate, I presumed that my relationship with devices would always be strictly utilitarian. Alexis Madrigal sums up my sentiments exactly:
"You know how some kids take apart clocks and toasters just to see how they work? Well, I used them as god intended, to tell time and make toast."Looking back, I see that the presumption was based on an irrational fear of the unknown, which I wish I could've faced sooner. All the new tools and terminology that seemed so intimidating were more accessible and usable than I ever imagined.
But the biggest surprise was the discovery that my experience is entirely replicable. Thanks to new rapid prototyping technologies, the tools of making are easier than ever to access and learn. All across the country and beyond, the maker community is self-organizing to create fab labs and makerspaces, which serve as cheap and accessible DIY classrooms. It doesn't require a major life change (like losing a job or facing a similar crisis) to get involved. These are skills you can develop on part time basis - a few nights a week or a weekend here and there. In fact, no matter what your day job may be, you’ll find these new skills can be complimentary and helpful in your everyday life.
The opportunity to join this new industrial revolution is growing everyday. The biggest hurdle is deciding to get started.
The ZERO TO MAKER book
My break came when MAKE Magazine gave me the opportunity to chronicle my Zero To Maker story on the MAKE blog. This gave me a chance to meet incredible makers and hear their stories about how they got started. Their insights and advice were too good to not be broadcast.
Even with all the attention that the maker movement has garnered, some people still feel it is too intimidating and prohibitive to take the plunge. An autonomous robot may be awe-inspiring in theory, but if you are hanging on to your cubicle job, it's hard to imagine it as a possible career move. It's easy to see the potential of a desktop 3D printer when you've got a masters degree in industrial design, but nearly impossible to understand how it fits (and why it should be included) into your busy schedule and everyday life. A mental bridge must be crossed to see making as an opportunity worth pursuing, whether as a new career or a serious hobby. I know because I had to cross that bridge.
But I wouldn’t want to do it by myself. As I quickly discovered, making is very little about DIY - it's all about DIT (Do-It-Together). In the maker movement, the art of collaboration is the key to innovation and productivity. The Zero To Maker book will be no different. It's going to be a team effort, and you are a big part of it!
By supporting this Kickstarter project, you'll be part of the team. The goal is to get as many new makers involved as possible. The money will go to 1) keeping me alive during the next several months 2) making the book an excellent physical product (in addition to a great resource) - something you'll like holding in your hands.
It's not just a book, it's an invitation...
This isn't just an ordinary book that you could find on Amazon or at a Barnes and Noble. I want you to come with me. It's going to be a year-long digital and physical tour of this curious Maker world. I want to show you all the delightful little corners, the inspiring characters, and immense opportunity.
Maker Interviews on G+
We're going to have a series of eight live interviews on Google+ On Air Hangouts with some of the amazing makers I've met over the past year. The interviews will run on select Wednesday nights (6pm Pacific Time) in February, March, and April (schedule to follow in an update). Our interviews will be:
- Dale Dougherty, founder & publisher of MAKE: Magazine and co-creator of Maker Faire
- Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, author of Makers, formerly editor-in cheif of WIRED
- Mitch Altman, founder of Noisebridge and creator of TV-B-Gone, Neurodreamer Sleep Mask, etc.
- Abe and Lisa Fetterman, Creators of the DIY Sous Vide Machine and founders of Nomiku
- Bilal Ghalib, Maker Evangalist for Autodesk/Instructables, Founder of GEMSI
- and more inspiring makers!
Backers at the "Join the Show!" Level will get to join the Hangout and ask specific questions. (Each show will have 5 Backer Slots, with backers getting a first-backed, first-choice decision on which show to join.)
Of course, the DIT experience wouldn't be complete unless we actually get our hands dirty and MAKE STUFF. I'm teaming up with TechShop, The Mill, and other makerspaces around the country to create Maker Fellowships, a two-month program and introduction to making. Each location will accommodate up to four Maker Fellows for the two-month program. It starts with an immersive maker weekend:
Then a combination of classes over the course of two month program (choose 3) depending on where your project takes you:
- Shopbot CNC
- Autodesk Inventor 1, 2, 3 (TechShop Locations only)
- CAD to CAM
- Vinyl Cutter CNC
I'll be at each of the locations for the Zero to Maker weekend, then following up remotely for the duration of the program. Based on my experiences, the opportunity to have a cohort of other Maker Fellows (up to four at each location) will make a huge difference. The compact schedule will get right to the point, making sure participants can breeze past the unnecessary hurdles.
*Important Note: Want to set up a Maker Fellowship program at your makerspace? Send me a message!
We're all learning and navigating this new world together. I hope you'll join us!
"Yes, the Maker movement is stronger than ever and everything that you need is out there, but that's as much of a crippling statement as it is an inspiring one. How do you know where to start if "everything" is there for you? Let David be your technology sherpa, you will travel higher and deeper into making what you want than ever before and after you plant your flag on the top you'll already be chomping at the bit for your next climb." - Lisa Fetterman, Co-Founder and CEO of Nomiku
Risks and challenges
"If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." -African Proverb
I'm working overtime on OpenROV and writing on nights and weekends. So far, this process has been fun (and fulfilling), but it certainly lacks any semblance of balance. I feel confident that I can continue to work at this pace for the foreseeable future. For me, the best insurance against burnout is to surround myself with a supportive community who are working on the same goal. In fact, that's where you all come in!
Another risk is that I, for any reason, am not able to attend the scheduled weekends at TechShop. Luckily, all the Maker Fellows would still be in great hands with folks at TechShop, and I'd offer a fair refund for my absence.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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