The DIY (or Maker) community is a wonderful place of creativity, support, learning, and overall growth. However, it can be a bit intimidating when attempting to navigate it, especially since in recent years it has absolutely exploded in size. Today we will attempt to provide a overview of the many facets and opportunities in the community, so you can get involved and find your niche.
First off, it can be helpful to identify what part of this huge community you are most interested in. This is not to say that you should limit yourself in any capacity, but it can be helpful when getting started to have an idea of what you want and where you would feel the most comfortable. Make a list of your main interests and skills. Do you enjoy baking? 3D printing? Do you just love the idea of making your own blackwood flutes? No matter what your passion, there is likely a thriving sub-set of the Maker world just for you.
Next it is important to understand your resources and how best for you to plug into the community. Side note, this does not require you to be actively making or working on a project. Many Makers began by just going online and appreciating (and getting inspired by!) what other people have come up with . A majority of the community exists online however there are also opportunities to find real life connections. We will talk about the online component first.
Setting up online: There is an extensive Maker network online, but we will go over some staple websites to get you started. Make.com is one of the main players in the Maker Movement, and in addition to some amazing projects they are one of the main hubs of the community. Instructables is the go-to website for most DIY project sharing/exploring, and along with Hackaday, it is one of my personal favorite DIY websites. If you are more on the craftier side, Pinterest is also a great place to showcase and see some of the best DIY content on the web.
Reddit is also a great way to get involved with the community as well. The subreddits r/DIY and r/somethingimade are great places for people to see your work, though the smaller, more specific subreddits can also be very valuable. Just select something that your interested in and search it on Reddit to find these more personable communities.
Also consider following your favorite people on various social networks, Twitter and Instagram are great ways to stay up to date with people whom you appreciate their work. It is also good potential networking.
Getting involved in person:
In addition to your online presence, there are myriad ways to get involved in real life. Check your local city for Makerspaces/Hackerspaces (some colleges have them too). The app Meetup is also a good way to get connected with Makers who share your interests. Additionally, Maker Faire is always a great way to see and share awesome projects. If you cannot make it to the main ones check online to see if there is a Mini Faire in your area. Conventions such as Comic-Con are also potentially good places to meet like-minded individuals.
- Engage! The more you interact with the community the more it engages with you, and more you can get out of it.
- Feel free to ask questions, there is no shame in learning!
- If you have an idea, go for it! Even if it doesn’t end up exactly how you envisioned it, you can always make a second prototype, and it is all part of the making/learning process.
- Follow tech blogs that interest you. Adafruit, Wired, Sparkfun, (and of course Digilent!) are all good blogs to inspire and keep you in the tech loop.
Basic Rules of Etiquette
People work exceedingly hard on their projects and exert a great deal of creativity, so subsequently the projects can be a little personal. If you have a expansion or improvement idea for someone’s project, try to present it as a suggestion not just a criticism. We are all always learning so helpful commentary is good, but this can also be sensitive work.
if you see something you like, tell them! There are few feelings comparable to the excitement of opening up your email and seeing that you have a new comment on your hard work.
Always credit original content creators. If I was to build a Thor hammer that made sound when it made contact with the ground and I followed so-and-so’s tutorial on how to build the hammer but then added the sound myself and put my version online, I would credit so-and-so for the hammer design but then make it clear the sound aspect was my work.
So go out there and get involved, and good luck!