This past weekend I attended the first ever Vancouver Maker Faire, which was a ton of fun! It was a gathering of creative artsy/techy/geeky types, all showing off their work and inspiring others. Here's my photo album from the event: Maker Faire Vancouver 2011.
A "maker" is anyone who puts things together, blending art and technology, for the sheer fun of it and/or for aesthetic or utilitarian purposes. "Makers" are generally counter-cultural, even anti-establishment, often kind of social misfits or nerdy. The "maker" concept goes beyond putting paint on canvas, and also doesn't seem to include literary arts as far as I can tell (sorry, you painters, poets and novelists). Pure computer programming without any messing around with hardware is also not really part of it. Think DIY home projects, Popular Mechanics, arts & crafts, installation art, robot hobbyists, even guerilla knitting and guerilla gardening, and you're on the right track.
The Maker movement grew out of such predecessors as the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The flagship publication of the "maker" movement is Make Magazine.
Some of the highlights of the festival included the Panterragaffe, a pedal-powered walking machine,
and Mondo Spider, an electric walking vehicle.
I was inspired by all the cool things people had invented. There are times when I feel that doing/creating something with technology just because we can or because it's cool is not enough reason, but that it has to have some purpose, to make the world a better place (and most definitely not to allow it to become a worse place). But there is truly something fundamentally human and joyful about creating things for the sheer wonder of it. After spending the afternoon enthralled by the exuberance of the atmosphere at Maker Faire, I'm leaning more towards the Existential Pleasures of Engineering side of the balance.