WT360 – The Maker Movement and Its Effect on Quality

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On today’s weekend show, we’re talking about the Maker movement and its impact on quality.

What Are We Talking About

On a recent trip to Michaels Craft Store, Shannon was disgusted by all the junk on the shelves purporting to be Maker kits and wonders about the dark side of the Maker movement and how it might be perpetuating poor quality, disposable products.

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16 Responses to “WT360 – The Maker Movement and Its Effect on Quality”

  1. No matter the concept, if it becomes popular enough, someone will come along and try to package it. Then, cut the costs to boost the profits. Couple that with the natural human tendencies to A) take the easy route, and B) believe what is asserted with authority in writing on the box, and you get crap. It happens all the time, but it’s certainly harder when it happens to something personally important.

    I think that quality making comes from teaching a love of learning. Ignite that spark in a person that fires up the imagination and the need to learn more. Praise the creativity, no matter the level of the result, no matter the age of the maker. Whet that appetite, and they’ll eschew the kits in due course.

    Ah, but there I go, preaching to the choir. 🙂

  2. While I see Shannon’s point, in this dumbed-down world of ours, if a kid can put down the cellphone long enough to glue together some crappy plywood bird house, just maybe the maker urge can take root in that young brain. But only if the adults in the room provide much needed positive feedback. But this might just require them to put down their own cellphone, for a few minutes . . . . Fat chance, huh?

  3. I just wanted to comment on Shannon’s initial comments about who a real maker is and the definition of quality. Hey Shannon do you believe in freedom of speech, freedom to pursue happiness, any of those kinds of things?…I guess I am not totally astonished that you have such a elitist attitude. Are you saying that YOU (or some group of elites on high [take a look around]) define quality and experience for everyone? And where does your vast knowledge of life and the pursuit of happiness come from? I guess it is easy to understand if you wanted to protect your little domain. “Perpetuating a disposable society”…hmm…I suppose in order to meet your quality standards one would have to go through years of apprenticeship and purchase only the finest tools before being allowed to even try to produce something deemed worthy of your respect…hmm…What about a person who does all of those things and pours heart and soul into the work…is the quality of the outcome what matters to you only or do you not consider the heart that one puts into the work for the sheer enjoyment…putting anything together with your own hands no matter whether it is a kit or not is still better than doing nothing…I have suffered through been around elitists like you for 60 years now and I am always amazed at how smart you believe you are. How about just being nice to people as they struggle to make their way through life and help them find a good path that is right for them rather than judging them because they have an urge to make something at the level they can handle…

  4. I think this is a corollary to the common craftsmen lament; cheap products mold people’s perspective on what quality is and importantly for working craftsmen, what it costs.

    You can walk into to a Hobby Lobby and buy a foreign-made hall table for 99 bucks. It’s hard to get the materials – much less any of the labor – for that price here in the states.

    So, the disposable shoddy products have already permeated most people’s minds as acceptable. Therefore why should what they build or purchase from a “maker” anything more than that.

    Ultimately I just hope more people start rejecting the “disposable” mentality. It’s horrible for craftsmen, and horrible for the planet (and I’m not a “green” guy).

  5. Marc,

    Artisan water comes from an artisan well. These are underground springs that bubble up to the surface. It’s not a way of bottling but rather lets you know where it came from as opposed to a deep well or lake.

  6. Dunno how many of you guys read the comments, but I wonder if you’re thinking about the lifestyle that a lot of these quick/cheap upcycle videos are aimed at. I’m 32, but I’m only just now able to think about long-term furniture because I’m only now reasonably confident that I won’t be moving from one odd-shaped small space to another every 2-3 years. Almost all my friends who are younger, in the 26-30 range, and are not able to keep furniture past 1 or 2 moves simply because that furniture is no longer compatible with the new living space. How many pieces of furniture are you going to keep around that you feel emotionally attached to if you’re moving from studio to studio, or in different combinations of roommates over a few years? You probably want to have a good quality bed, but a dining table can be iffy, as you want one that makes the best use of available space, and your next roommate might have one. With this lifestyle, doesn’t it make sense that the furniture is more transient? At least for a decade or so.

    And I will say, talk bad about Ikea all you want, but there is a level of flatpack furniture *below* Ikea. I’m slowly replacing furniture with stuff I’m making by hand, but the Ikea stuff is mostly pretty well-engineered with affordable materials…they’re not things one could pass down, but they’ll hold up for 2-3 moves and won’t disintegrate. Other furniture can be much worse.

  7. I disagree with almost everything said. I doubt anyone who assembles a kit considers themselves a maker or thinks the assemblage will last; they’re just having fun. I’m sure a handful of painters-by-number from my youth thought they were artists. (sorry Uncle Del.)

    I also will defend the creative tinkerers – a different but also notable tradition – who make Instructables and YouTube so much fun. Hey, a guitar amp from earbuds and an Altoids tin! You gotta admire that.

    BTW, how old are you guys, or how wealthy did you grow up? I’m a Baby Boomer, and my GRANDPARENT’S house was full of mass-manufactured crap. My whole family was stunned when I asked for the few true vintage pieces we had. Those second-hand store acquisition were considered old-fashioned (and too dang heavy to move).

  8. My take on the “maker” adding quality or making crap. People don’t have the time, the money or the energy. For years we’ve heard that very few people even know how to cook anymore. So out comes the TV dinner (we don’t call them that anymore) they’re fancy weight loss or designer food creations) into the microwave so they can feed the kids, pay some bills and get ready for tomorrow. People that have had or have well paying jobs don’t have the time either so they’re hiring people to decorate or take care of their grass and pull the weeds, etc.

  9. Do I dare throw Ana Whites name out there with a pocket hole jig. There is a time and place for pocket hole jigs and a dining table shouldn’t be included in that arena. As a furniture maker that is what my toughest competition is and buyers don’t know any different.

  10. When you said Nicole was mad because you forgot your 20% coupon for Michaels it reminded me of every trip to Bed Bath & Beyond. We always have their 20% coupons stuck to the fridge and we always get to the store before realising we have forgotten them.

  11. I really enjoyed your conversation about Makers. First, I think the Maker movement is about satisfaction in building, or making something. There is a certain satisfaction that some get with assembling something for Ikea or Michael’s, although I agree that most of what the produce is crap. I also tend to put people into categories when we talk about these people:

    Assemblers- Those that can take something and assemble it. The Ikea crowd. There are those who are a step above assemblers that can take someone else’s plan, like The Wood Whisperer’s plans and create all of the pieces to assemble a project. Not that there is anything wrong with that, there is just a large jump from following a plan to making your own.

    Makers- Those that use tools and their own ideas to make something. It’s a huge spectrum from pallet wood projects to metal, acrylic… Many of these folks are not afraid to use computers, CNCs… I would place some of their projects as art and not necessarily useful.

    Master Makers- The DeResta’s of the world.

    Craftsman- Those folks that are exceptionally good at one format like wood or metal. One can give them an idea of what you want, and the build quality is outstanding.

    Master Craftsman- Sam Maloof

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