Tuesday, May 22, 2007

TechCrunch vs. The Maker Faire

Mike Arrington wrote one of those shot-heard-round-the-world posts today. It wasn't news, but Mike Arrington writing it on TechCrunch was the news. The Valley in a troubling state? Indeed.

It would bum me out a lot more if I hadn't spent this weekend at the Maker Faire. The fair was a beautiful thing. The people and projects looked great; the companies mostly silly. The bigger they tried to look (Yahoo!) the sillier they looked. The more they focused on doing cool stuff (Microsoft... sorta kinda) the better they looked. But really it was DIY anything and everything. The essence of the geek thought process was there, the thought process that makes Silicon Valley work decade after decade: one part science, one part "I bet if I monkeyed with this a little more, it would be really damn cool," and one part "that is really damn cool -- you need a hand with that?"

Robert Scoble already made this connection. But I want to hammer on it a little more. Spend 15 minutes browsing this flickr stream and you'll feel right as rain. It's meatspace stuff, mostly, some fire and robots and yarn along with the software. But the idea is the same, and the membrane between online and offline has never been thinner.

On Saturday, we spent 20 minutes looking for parking and ended up in the far reaches of a dirt lot where some cargo trailers were parked. The event was well attended.

The peninsula has its own cash-driven strain of lycanthropy, never more than a full moon away, but a lot of people here always want to sit down with a soldering iron or scissors or a blank text editor window and put something new and cool into the world.

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