The Chinese Farmer-Roboticist and Other DIY Technologist Tales

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In backalleys, garages, and shops across the world, a class of tinkerers are building new things. With little money and varying levels of formal education, the makers of our globe's cities are innovating with what they have to hand. Separated by language and distance, most don't think of themselves as part of a movement.

At new magazine called Makeshift wants to change all that. In the US, MAKE magazine became a rallying point for do-it-yourself tech nerds and hackers. Makeshift wants to bring that sense of community to the international scene.

"In different cultures [grassroots production] goes by different names: DIY in the US, jugaad in India, jua kali in East Africa, and gambiarra in Brazil," the editors wrote on their new website. "Makeshift seeks to unify these cultures into a global identity."

The magazine's staff includes wunderkind editor-in-chief Steve Daniels, an early-20s IBM researcher, photographer Myles Estey, and editor Niti Bhan, who founded the Emerging Futures Lab. They're based in New York, Mexico City, and Singapore, respectively, a nod to the international nature of their virtual collaboration. They claim contributors from 20 countries.

Makeshift launched a Kickstarter campaign yesterday that will end when the magazine's first issue officially launches on September 30. But we talked Daniels, who we covered when his first book came out last year, into running a little preview of the stories they'll be highlighting here.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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