Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab
Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab

Readings & Summaries

  • What was the author’s argument?
  • How did they support it/make the argument?
  • What key points were the take-aways?

“Why I Am Not a Maker”

The author argues that the culture surrounding making has a hierarchy of makers placed above non-makers, and she also suggests that this culture is informed by the history of making in which men and male creations were prioritized.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was that this gendered history only recognizes male creations that weren’t just, as the author puts, “for the hearth and home”. She supports this by using anecdotes from Silicon Valley and examples related to coding. But I disagree with a lot of what she says. I think a lot of makers have been recognized throughout history, as the history of inventions is a long and diverse one. Privilege and gender play a large role in the title of “maker” undeniably, but how exclusive is it really? I think a lot of “caregiving” inventions are recognized for their value as well. A lot of environmental products I believe fall under this category of caregiving in relation to the planet. A lot of inventions for the less fortunate have become really really successful and they’re not just made to make a profit or because “the world needs more stuff”. The LifeStraw water filter is a great example of this. Sure the time and resources could have been spent making another brand of vacuums, but the makers behind that project developed that product with people in mind. They tried to solve a widely ignored problem, for ethical reasons, not just financial incentives.

I think making can be a rebel movement. I think often times people make products that counteract typical capitalistic manufacturing. When products aren’t single use, when they’re long-term, and made with sustainable products that is “going up against the system” of fast, casual, disposable manufacturing.

I understand that a lot of women’s work goes unrecognized. And I completely agree. But this article is tearing down “makers” as if there’s nothing redeemable about them.

As I began to read the next article I realized that this issue, and these articles definitely require you to already be familiar with the maker space culture and I definitely am not. I don’t know who’s qualified or who’s excluded, and I feel like my knee-jerk reaction shows how much I don’t know the context. That being said, I think being exposed to the culture before reading these articles would have been helpful.

“Power, Access, Status: The Discourse of Race, Gender, and Class in the Maker Movement”

This author makes a lot of good points including that the Maker movement is white and rich, diversity and inclusion efforts shift the responsibility to women and minorities, and that the movement as a whole is being run like a brand for rich white guys rather than a movement because of financial incentive. The other backs up these claims with evidence from Make Magazine, various quotes, and statistics from the Maker Faire.

I think my main take-away from this article is that there are a lot of societal issues that effect Makers that are not only unchecked but sometimes unrecognized by the people operating in the Maker space themselves. In addition, the author calls out how some diversity efforts think it’s enough to just recruit diverse makers “and stir” and there’s a lot more than needs to be done to make these spaces accessible.