MAKE Newsletter for December 15, 2008


Dear Makers,

In a recent column, titled An Upside to the Economic Downside, Ellen Goodman wrote:

Sociologists will tell you that the most powerful impetus to change is not a new discovery. It's when you learn what you already knew. What Americans already knew at some level was that the credit-card-driven, debt-ridden, pay-later economy wasn't sustainable. Not economically. Not environmentally.

It wasn't just the Birkenstock crowd or our Depression-era elders who knew this. It's been nestled in our collective subconsciousness among all the critiques against materialism, all the screeds against commercials, all the unease about excess and inequality, all the fear that we've filled our kids' lives and landfills with stuff. But it was as commonly dismissed as a Sunday sermon. Or manipulated into a pitch for diamonds.

It is the time for change and I believe makers were hoping the time would come. We're living in a period of dramatic change that is, as Dickens described Paris during the French Revolution, "the best of times and the worst of times."
We hear plenty about how bad it is or how bad it is going to get. However, there's also good news, and it's echoed in Goodman's comments. Many of us have felt that our way of life, our way of living, was not good for us, and not good for the planet. We sought change but we weren't clear how to make change and change the world. So much of society and culture seemed locked-in, finding more reasons not to change.

As I see it, we have a special opportunity now to make change and remake the world we live in. The kind of problems we face won't be solved by the usual approaches nor by the usual people. Albert Einstein said: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." We can approach these problems differently and propose unusual solutions that might have seemed impossible to achieve not long ago. Education, Energy, Transportation, Healthcare, Construction, Community -- you name it, it's on the table. We need more and more makers engaged in these issues.

As I said in my recent MAKE column, The Visible Hand, we have "to believe that [change] starts with each of us." As individuals and in groups, we can work together to face tough problems and we can make changes in our lives, our homes, and our communities. I am seeing more and more examples of people applying themselves to a wide range of issues, usually involving creative uses of technology and/or social media.

I plan to begin covering these efforts under what I'm calling Remake on the Makezine blog. I invite you to share your ideas and your projects with me (dale at oreilly dot com) and tell others about what you're doing to remake the world. I hope we can create an ongoing dialogue about what remakers are doing and what can be done.

Dale Dougherty
Editor and Publisher
MAKE magazine

From the MAKE Blog

IMPORTANT! "Safe dates" to get your gifts by the holidays!

OK Makers, this is the last week to order products and ensure getting them before the holidays. Below is the schedule of shipping "safe days" followed by many/most of our gift guides for 2008 for you to check out. Times are tight for everyone this year, so be sure to give a gift that gives back: learning, building, and making.

Ground - Dec 15th
3-Day Saver - Dec 17th
2-Day - Dec 18th
Overnight - Dec 19th

USPS (Any Method):
Due to the high volume of mail that the postal service deals with around the holidays, order by December 10th; however, many packages are lost or delayed in transit and we do not replace or refund any orders lost using this shipping method. We strongly encourage you to not use this method in December.

MAKE's 2008 Gift Guides:

  • The $20 Gift Guide at MAKE - Electronics kits for $20 and under. We know holiday gift budgets are shrinking, and a lot of us will have more time than money next year, so more than ever, if you're going to spend your hard-earned cash, consider spending it on something that gives back.

  • Arduino Gift Guide - All things Arduino, our most popular open source prototyping gift for artists and engineers!

  • Robot Gift Guide - For our MAKE Robot Gift Guide, we've put together a sampling of robot-related offerings from the Maker Shed, as well as some other robots we fancy.

  • MAKE's Gift Guide for Kids - These gifts will inspire you to go out and make new things, teach others what you know, or even learn something new. The best gift you can give any kid is quality time together.

  • The Chemistry Gift Guide - Celebrating chemistry and inspiring the next generation of chemists. The first, biggest, and only chemistry gift guide in the world. Make the next scientists and chemists!

  • Music Maker's Gift Guide - Musicians know how important it is to add a personal touch to their instruments, and what better way to make something personal than to actually make it yourself? There are a number of very cool kits for sound-makers out there, from circuit-benders to serious synthesizers. Here are some great gift ideas for those interested in crafting their own sounds.

  • Made in Japan Gift Guide - Gakken kits that we have in the Maker Shed with descriptions of each item. You may have seen some of these items on the Make blog, such as the hack-loving SX-150 Analog Synthesizer and the Mini-Theremin, but this list also includes some of the lesser-known gems like the Gravity Clock, the Stereo Pinhole Camera, and the New Edison-style Phonograph.

  • Video Makers Gift Guide - Video solutions, tutorials, on-the-go, and more. This holiday season, millions of people will give and receive some form of video, whether it's a LCD TV, video game system, camcorder, or other device. Why not consider giving the gift of video in the form of a fun and practical project that can be found in the pages of MAKE magazine? Here is just a sampling of some of the video-related gifts and resources you can find in the pages of MAKE and the Maker Shed.

  • Steampunk Gift Guide 2008 - Jake Von Slatt's excellent guide for all things steampunk for steampunks!

  • Alternative Energy Gift Guide - Solar, wind, fuel cell, biodiesel, and more. Next year is going to be a big year folks; we'll see more investment and emphasis on alternative energy than ever before. This will be our "space race" and our "moon landing." The children of today will be the ones who will shape the next decade and the next century. As a parent, a friend, a mentor, or just someone who is giving a gift this holiday season, instead of a plastic toy or knick-knack I'm going to ask the you consider giving something that might just spark the interest of a young mind who will be called on to solve our energy needs.

  • Open Source Hardware 2008 - The definitive guide to open source hardware projects in 2008. Each year we do a guide to all open source hardware and this year there are over 60 projects/kits -- it's incredible! Many are familiar with Arduino (now shipping over 60,000 units) but there are many other projects just as exciting and supported by amazing communities. We think we've captured nearly all of them in this list. Some of these projects and kits are available from MAKE, others from the makers themselves or other hardware manufacturers, but since they're all open source hardware, you can make any of these yourself -- everything is available!