Yesterday the White House announced that its first Maker Faire will take place on June 18th. The Administration had members of the band OK Go (who are arguably a Maker group that occasionally makes music) spread the word.
I agree that we all should get involved, and I like how the White House wants to make June 18th a Day of Making. But that seems tough to do with just two weeks notice. The Administration announced back in February that there would be a Maker Faire. That would have been an excellent time to make the suggestions for how individuals could celebrate the White House Maker Faire (or the Day of Making) in their own communities. Instead there were vague suggestions of how universities and companies could get involved. They were good suggestions, but not really directed at getting people Making.
I’m concerned that the Maker Faire will end up being the same kind of showcase/good publicity opportunity that the Science Fair can be. Sure, there are plenty of efforts to communicate the value of learning science and technology connected to the Fair, but the event does not seem to be something that an average kid could look at, decide they want to participate in, and know how to make that happen. The participants appear to have already been chosen well before the date of the Fair is announced, and I wouldn’t argue with you if you thought the projects were window dressing for announcing the latest education initiative.
That’s troubling for a science fair. But with the participatory and community elements of Maker Faires, the apparent lack of individual public engagement in the White House Maker Faire strikes me as a bigger problem. It’s okay if the participants for this Maker Faire have already been selected (as this MAKE article suggests), but I wish the White House was more explicit about it.