What do you make?

So many Americans don't make anything today. We sell stuff. We buy stuff. We consume stuff. We yak about stuff. (For me, it's books. I read them voraciously, but I sure don't write them. Yet.) But many of us don't make much, aside from toast and messes.

But there are many "makers" left in this country. There's even a "makers' movement afoot. I am fascinated by this phenomenon. Two recent books from the guys at BoingBoing.net epitomize the idea:

Corey Doctorow's Makers (the link points to a free download at CrapHound.com; I love love love that Doctorow gets the benefits of free downloads. Be sure to check out his reasoning in the section called "About this Download" at the beginning of the ebook. And if you like what you read, buy a hard copy of the book, or spread the word about Doctorow's sagacity to your buddies). This book held me spellbound until I finished the last "page" on my phone's Stanza reader. Many of the book's main characters combine the free and sharing spirit of the open source and creative commons movements, with the inventive and entrepreneurial spunk that peppers the stories of American history. It's like crossing Edison with Larry Lessig. An unlikely mix, but truly inspirational when it all comes together. Plus, the book offers a barely futuristic view of a post boom US, marked by nearly-abandoned suburbiascapes and new ways of doing business. The book also talks a lot about 3-D printing, a technology that will hijack your brain if you give it some thinking time (check out the videos below).

Mark Frauenfelder just came out with Made by hand : searching for meaning in a throwaway world. I've got it on hold at my public library, and can't wait to take a gander.

See also MakerFaire.com

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