Monthly Archives: March 2011

Your project is awesome

During the process of planning this Mini Maker Faire, particularly in finding
people to have booths, do demos, and so on, I’ve talked to quite a few makers.
It has really been amazing, and I’ve had a chance to go deep on blinking lights,
discuss the finer points of micro-controller design, argue about the importance
of tool-chains, and generally geek out at people’s projects. I have learned
there are quite a few really cool projects out there, (and I’m pretty sure this
means there are even more waiting to be found). All these things are pretty
cutting-edge, high-tech, making from brilliant makers. I’m sure then, that you
can understand my confusion (and I’ll admit it: frustration) when people say
“Oh, my project is not really booth-worthy”.
On the surface this is a really befuddling phenomenon — for example: how could
someone not realize that creating a brand new electronic instrument from
scratch is an amazing feat? I once talked to a guy making a quad-copter who
said “it’s really nothing special, there are much better designs out there”. I
think there is clue to the problem in that statement. It is easy to get lost in
the [web distortion field](
People see pages of plans, videos of results, and articles praising those who
have done similar projects, particularly within communities of makers. They
assume that at this point what they are doing is no big deal, because (to quote
the song) “it’s all been done before”. This is understandable really, when you
look at the internet you see communities devoted to everything.
Enthusiasts can collect and share their accomplishments. This has
amazing results — rapid iterations of plans result in new, complex, projects
happening faster than ever. Unfortunately though, it seems to promote this odd,
myopic view, where people judge their results against the state of affairs in
the community. By doing this, they miss (or forget) just how cool their
accomplishments are.
In one sense, this is just modesty on the part of the makers — they know of
something cooler and admit it. In another sense, (the Maker Faire sense), this
myopic view can be a bit damaging. The point of the Faire is to present new
stuff to people who have never encountered it before. Just because yours is the
400th frobulator rather than the first, doesn’t change one important fact: it’s
really freaking awesome. It may not make the front-page of frobulator weekly,
but it is also way cooler than any solder-by-numbers kit. Even more
importantly: outside of the frobulation community, almost no one has heard of
your frobulators — even if they would be really interested. People sometimes
just need opportunity and exposure to new thing. This is what we at UC Mini
Maker Faire consider the true heart of these gatherings: community building and
recruiting. This is why we want you to show off your “not-so-great” project at
a booth. It grows your community, enriches the maker scene, and brings us all
together as a result.
Have a project? What are you waiting for? Get a booth today! Email if you are interested in having a booth, demo, or talk
at the Faire!

Ramping up…

With the inaugural Urbana-Champaign Mini Maker Fair just under a month away—APRIL 16!!—we have begun a serious ramp-up of activities. We also have made a renewed commitment to keep our friends, fans and followers in the loop, by posting here on our blog and to Facebook and even tweeting.  To begin this renewed public activity, we want to tell you what we’ve been doing the last few weeks.
Location and Space:
The location for the first UC Mini Maker Faire is the Independent Media Center in downtown Urbana, Illinois. This building was originally a post office, and today is a pretty cool community space. It has room for maker booths, demonstrations, and general mingling. The IMC building is also home to Makerspace Urbana — one of the our host organizations (tours of their space will be happening the whole day, and probably some sort of hands-on workshop too). More details about the space and setup will be posted as we get them!
Official Endorsement from Maker Faire Headquarters:
We’d hoped to do a lot more publicity, but our official endorsement and permission from O’Reilly (the publisher of Make and Craft magazines) to use the Mini Maker Faire name took a while longer than we hoped. The wait has paid off — we are an officially sanctioned event!. This is pretty cool as it marks us as recognized participants in a greater community of Maker Faires and Makers!
Maker Recruitment:
We have (and still are) recruited local makers, and we’re looking forward to a fantastic event. There is a lot of work to do yet, but the real challenge is not getting caught up in all the projects people are doing.  All of us committee members are Makers, too, so examining cool projects can distracting. Another exciting consequence of the selection process: it has made us aware of a much bigger local maker community than we previously imagined.
Speaking of the community — if you or your friends are Makers, and want to be involved let us know, it isn’t too late to participate either as a volunteer or potentially even find booths! Email us at
We have some dedicated sponsors and we are actively seeking some more. There are various sponsorship packages available, and if you or your organization would like to sponsor this event, please email us at, and we’ll work with you!
UC Mini Maker Faire
April 16, 2011
10am to 3pm
See you there!