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Our Future Remade by ‘Maker Culture’

March 26, 2010

Do-it-yourself robots, weapons, even human organs. Open source tech makes it possible, but do we want this?

First I’d like to say. Finally! Something published!

Maker Culture - Taking things into our own hands

Maker Culture - art by Conal Pierse

Last semesters, the journalism class from Ryerson University teamed up with my class to work on a twelve-part multimedia feature series. We split off into groups and took different angles at describing and defining what our mutual teacher called “maker culture.” A resurgence of the Do-It-Yourself ethic, coupled with the collaboration and communication powers of the internet, seemed to be changing the way people do just about everything.

Different groups looked at things like science, food, art, politics, and education.

Being the annoying skeptic-in-the-corner type, I decided to take on the “Issues and What’s Next” angle. The issues piece came at the end of the 12-part series. It is designed to stand alone, but I’m sure it will make far more sense if you at least read one or two of the others first. We asked questions like – how will copyright law affect sites like Etsy? And, how do consumer protection laws work for individual producers rather than corporations?

Learning to be multimedia journalists, in addition to the print feature there is also video, and a podcast to go with each feature.

Throughout our podcast, we read excerpts from Cory Doctorow‘s book Makers – (the whole thing is free online, by the way.) We went to the book launch of Makers at the Merril Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

We interviewed Cory about his thoughts and opinions on the movement, copyright law, and his new book. One of my classmates, Savithri Sastri, is the super-professional interviewer. She also makes delicious snacks.

We had enough extra footage left over from the book launch that I decided to make a… “lighter” video. It was the first video I’d ever made with music, and I may have gone a little overboard. But eh, it’s all for the sake of learning, right?

The whole series was a blast to work on – researching to be just one small part of a mega-feature series is a fantastic learning experience. Thinking of different ways to tell the story through different media was equally challenging – but I think it’s definitely paid off.

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