Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire: technological independence

maker faire
Photo credit: Eindhoven News Media Library

In a few days, the Mini Maker Faire in Eindhoven will get started. My questions started from what a Maker Faire, or what a ‘maker’ is to be specific. It turns out that it is a fair in which all kinds of engineers, crafters, artists, enthusiasts, hobbyists – so called ‘makers’- show what they have created.

The first Maker Faire started in 2006 in the USA, and spread around the world as it attracted more and more visitors every year. It has also been held in Eindhoven from 2014 as a Mini Maker Faire. This is an event that seems to fit Eindhoven, given that it is famous for having big technical companies like Philips and ASML, and the Technical University Eindhoven. A large percentage of the population in Eindhoven are either technical students or engineers.

Maker movement

For me personally, it was one of the cultural shocks to see how comfortable Dutch people are with building things or fixing broken machines, like bicycles, themselves. They seem to be so used to the Do-It-Yourself concept. One of the examples is that when you move to a new house, you lay your own floor and paint the wall yourself. Where I grew up, we just pay and experts take care of everything.

The Maker movement is the extension of this DIY concept. It’s a social movement and a trend in which people pick up technological skills themselves and build up their own machines, crafts, etc. “Instead of technology owning you, you own the technology.” Said René Pare, the director of Madlab and organizer of the Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire. “We would need it in order to stop big companies from stealing all the information from your phone, and then hi-jack your identity, push you to buy stuff. There’s a regulation for that from the government, but that is not enough. The more that you are aware of it, the more influence you have on it, and you are an owner of your own space and data. You have to be protective of your individuality.”

The Maker Faire is in fact a by-product of the maker movement. In 2005, Dale Dougherty launched the Maker magazine to serve the maker movement. The very first Maker Faire was launched in San Francisco, USA in 2006. After its success, the event spread around America. In 2008 it attracted 65,000 visitors. The concept was also introduced through many other countries including the U.K., China, and Italy. Smaller scale Maker Faires, known as Mini Maker Faires, have also been held in many local communities around the world. The first Mini Maker Faire in the Netherlands was held in Groningen in 2012. Mad emergent art center, a.k.a. Madlab, first held the Eindhoven Maker Faire in 2014.

Madlab’s 3rd edition of the Mini Maker Faire

The Mad Emergent Art Center is organizing the Mini Maker Faire this year after many innovative events such as the Living Data Challenge, and Science Hack Day. For them, the Maker Faire is the largest project throughout the year in terms of scale. They have held the Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire twice, and are presenting their 3rd edition of the event this year on September 10 and 11. They started their first trial of a Mini Maker Faire in the Strijp-S area with 50 makers in 2014. Despite the small scale, it was quite successful and has been growing ever since. This year, they will have 120 makers at the fair, from various backgrounds.

Last year, the Faire had 1500 visitors. The ambition this year is to have 3000 visitors. “Every year, we try to add up. Different makers, new concepts,” said Yama Saraj, a human resources consultant at MADlab. “It is a very large show,” said René Pare. “People can spend hours. Special artists are performing. One of the makers is a fashion technology artist from San Francisco. There is also a robot artist.”

Expats’ opportunities at the Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire

As one of the most international cities in the Netherlands, Eindhoven has many ways to help expats feel at home. The Eindhoven Mini Maker Faire event is a good opportunity for expats to join as a way of integration. Moreover, Eindhoven is currently accommodating 2000 refugees. How to integrate this vast number of people in the community is a big problem. Just like expats, refugees are also expected to have difficulties adjusting themselves to the new environment. Since many of the refugees are engineers or artists from their own country, they could take part in the event as a maker, or visitor. It will give them a chance to get to know part of the society better by meeting locals and expats at the event.

“Maker movement is an open source. Anybody can join,” said Yama Saraj, a former refugee from Afghanistan who is now working for MADlab. “Eindhoven has almost 2000 refugees. These people need to integrate themselves into society. Refugees and expats both feel lonely. Participating as a maker gives you a feeling of achievement. I think it’s also one of the tools to make new friends.”

What you do at the Maker Faire doesn’t require much of a language ability. Even if you don’t speak good Dutch, you can still participate either as a maker or a visitor. Additionally, through participating at workshops, Make-athons, or lectures, you can socialize with other participants.

[url=1]More info on the event you can find here.[/url

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