A few days ago I argued that the Maker Movement finally depends on the ingenuity and effort of private entrepreneurs and of companies large and small — but that these efforts go much faster, further, and better when supported by a range of public-private collaborations.
This is consistent with the long lesson of American economic development (as Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson have argued in their new book, and as I have discussed over the years), in which the nation’s dominant private industries — from agriculture and energy to info-tech and aerospace and bio-tech — have been sped by publicly funded research, training programs, regulatory standards, and trade policies. (Clyde Prestowitz has a very good new Washington Monthly article on the real history of America’s economic rise, here.)
The advantages of public-private partnership apply to the new Maker Movement as well. My wife Deb and I have reported on several aspects of this, for instance the way K-12 schools, community colleges, research universities, and local “maker spaces” have fostered local hardware skills. (Selected articles here.)
Here’s a list of several recent developments:
- The National Maker Faire is on this weekend — right now! — in Washington. If I were in town, I would be there.
- The White House has declared this the National Week of Making, running through next Friday. Enjoy.
- The White House has also just announced its Champions of Change award winners, in the maker category. Congratulations!
- In a similar vein, the Department of Education has released its own set of maker-related grant winners in the Career Technical Education (CTE) category. As Deb and I have chronicled over the months, CTE programs have repeatedly been the most inventive, practical-minded, and economically effective kinds of educational innovations we’ve seen around the country. Congrats to these winners too.
- My friend Peter Hirshberg just yesterday released online his Maker City Playbook, which is designed to collect, compare, and disseminate useful tactics from the most effective maker zones around the country. After the jump I have one sample passage from the book; I’ll say more about it in upcoming dispatches. For now, I encourage you to give it a look; the full text is available free, online. Congrats to Peter and his colleagues for carrying out the project and to the Kauffman Foundation, whose studies I have often cited, as the main underwriter. (For the record: Deb and I have no involvement with any of these groups except as followers of their work.)