Sunday, October 14, 2012


There's a lot of talk about the "creative class" and what it means to be a designer. The problem is, everyone wants to be a designer, everyone wants to be creative...people understand what that means. Being a designer means that you make things. And making...creation...has some magic to it.

We've been starting to notice this around our house. Whenever someone says something utterly ridiculous, we will say, "I'm sure that was the first time those words have ever been put together in that way." It's a moment of magic when you think that, potentially, you said something that's never been said before and it elicits a strong response (usually around here it's laughter).

I respect writers who are crafting new ideas and eliciting emotions through words; they are makers. Artists, who through music or performance or through a physical manifest of their creativity, are magical in their creation of the meaningful new. It's that concept, the "meaningful new," that differentiates makers from everyone else.

Yes, everyone else. There are the talkers, the "futurists," who imagine what might be and fancy themselves designers because they throw out big ideas into the universe. The talkers may have credit for coming up with ideas, but it is the makers who actually craft the future.

There are the documentors, the people who capture what is. They are the journalists, the recordkeepers, the scribes, the librarians; they are the people who preserve reality and hold our memories to task. Their scrapbooks and archives are imperfect and biased, but they help us reflect on where we are and help us measure how far we progress. It is the makers whose progress they are documenting.

There are the opportunists. They will sell and promote what the makers make. Without them, we may not discover and benefit from the makers. They are the communicators, the marketers, the sales people. They try to tie the emotion to the innovation, to tell the story of the new. Without the makers, they have no story to tell.

Then there are the critics, who assign value to the work the makers do. They also are communicators, but what they communicate is their opinion, nothing more. They sit in judgment, counting on others to find them credible in their opinions. Without makers continuing to risk judgment, critics would have nothing to judge.

Beebo and Gearmo, made by John Pagano
Finally, there are consumers. We all are consumers, but many people are only consumers. We buy what others design and build and create to help us at work, at home...sometimes just for enjoyment. We want the new. We want to feel like we are makers, if only because we accumulate and consume what they make.  It is a human drive, based in learning, curiosity and delight, to discover and design and create.

When I woke up this morning, I followed my usual pattern of checking Twitter. I read all kinds of opinions and judgments, saw photography documenting peoples' activities and behavior, and read many, many tweets of people trying to sell me something, either a product or their opinions. Then I got a text from my partner, who today is on the east coast. He sent me a picture of  the robot he made from found objects this morning with his son. With the magic of a creator, they designed Beebo with springs for legs and wheels for feet, with a head that swivels, eyeballs that roll, and a kitchen timer heart beat (later I found out that he had made a second one for me named Gearmo). This is what makers do. They make things that change us, inspire us and make the world better. They are the catalyst for progress.

Z and the bots 
What are you making?

No comments:

Post a Comment