A little self reflection goes a long way sometimes. My epiphany was finding out I’m part of a culture that I didn’t even know I was participating in.  Let me explain.

First, a “maker” is someone who messes around with robots, figuring out how design and parts come together to create something that previously didn’t exist.

Second, Makers are part of a cultural movement. They’re a community of do-it-yourselfers that are really into technology and have a “self taught” philosophy.  Although the community is comprised of a diverse set of people, many of them learn through “doing”.

That’s me in a nutshell. At some point, I’ve evolved from a custom fabricator, building signs in a garage and developing a start up company in 90’s to an engineer and custom designer. Because I thrive on an insatiable appetite for learning through experimentation.  I suppose that makes me some type of mad scientist or now some type of “maker”.

Some believe that the maker culture is a reaction to the disconnect that came with the smart phone, internet era. Technologies can take us away from the physical connection with the world around us. Maker culture is a counter culture response to that.

Makers take collaboration to a whole new level.  They’re about connecting the physical sense of manufacturing with the social technologies.  With communications being blown wide open, sharing ideas, learnings is now the norm. With relation to  3D printing, you can download any model and print it or modify it as you see fit.

LEARNING BY DOING – IT IS AS WIDE OPEN AS YOU COULD IMAGINE!

I’m absolutely fascinated by the concept of “learning by doing”.  Think for a moment about traditional forms of learning, including classroom learning, It unloads a massive amount of information that may never get applied in the real world. Dumping truckloads of new information on a learner can stall or cripple the inspiration that started it all, as well as, restrict the flow of creative thought.

Now compare that with the valuable lessons that come from experiments in the real world.  It gives you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Don’t get me wrong, both have their place in our world, and there may be a “hybrid” combination of the two, but learning is a very individualized process and everyone does it their own way.

Personally, I don’t want someone to tell me what my options are, I want to find them, figure them out and process them on my own terms. I believe many of the creative thoughts out there are missed through conformity. “I do because I’m told I should”.

Well, this kind of what sums my thoughts on this.  Philosophy can take you down a long road. Quick advise, find your passion through exploration. Touch, feel, smell, use all your senses to test your limits (ie., by doing, not by dictation).

MY LITTLE WORLD…

Four years ago I wrote about 3D printing.  Fast forward to today: I have two 3D printers sitting in my office, grinding and clicking away around the clock! A few months back, it hit this custom designer like a brick, I had to dive into this technology.  So I bought a small hobbyist type 3D printer (120mm) and experimented with it in my office. Educational for sure, but too limited in it’s capabilities. So, just like Tim Allen on the TV show Home Improvement, ar, ar, more power! I purchased a much larger one (400mm cube area).  Why? Because I am a maker!

IS THIS A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY OR NOT?

I found out where the 3D printing world is and only scratched the surface.  Playing with technology is fun but can I incorporate this into our business plan? Would it tie into our existing core competencies?  Would it be an entirely new market?

When it comes to running our business and identifying what’s next on the horizon, it’s about doing what we choose to do, not what we’re told to do.  It sounds rogue and rebellious, but it’s how products get to the next level and how organizations and people evolve. It’s this type of learning that changes the world and exposes new visions and direction.

Stay tuned as this develops. This has been the driving force behind our passion for making the most creative signs on the planet here in our shop.  We’re exploring the possibilities and not letting anything put creative constraints on what we’re creating for our customers.  Don’t be surprised to see your sign printed in the future!

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