Maker Movement: A Driver for Biomimicry

Last week we celebrated Bill’s advancement to PhD candidacy by watching the Maker documentary together while feasting on Chinese BBQ. “Maker” is a documentary on the rapidly growing Maker Movement and its impact on society, culture and economy. Recent advances in automated manufacturing (e.g. 3D printing) is driving the Maker Movement, which is powered by DIYers who want to build their own things rather than buying them. As a result of the Maker Movement, more and more makerspaces are popping up offering community-based industrial spaces equipped with cutting-edge manufacturing tools. Further supporting the Maker Movement is a shift towards open-source design templates and proliferation of crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. These trends are enhancing collaboration between tinkerers around the globe. As proven by nature, mixing up the gene pool helps speed innovation.

“Maker” is the follow-up of another documentary, “Design & Thinking.” Both are efforts of Muris Media. Bill knows the director of the two films, Mu-Ming Tsai, through the Innovation Open House (IOH) platform. IOH, founded by Taiwanese entrepreneur Chuang Chih-Chao, is a place where prospective students deciding which university is right for them can review personal insights from current students and alumni from countless universities with unique degree offerings. Bill shared his experience studying biomimicry at the University of Akron on IOH, and Mu-Ming described his experience of the film department at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. After connecting with Mu-Ming through IOH, Bill watched his documentary “Design & Thinking” and really liked it, which is why he recommended all of the biomimicry fellows get together, watch, and discuss the “Maker” follow-up.

The documentary shows great projects and recent advancement of the Maker Movement. Amongst the interviewees are some of high-profile players: Carl Bass (CEO of Autodesk), Charles Adler (Co-Founder of Kickstarter), Danae Ringelmann (Founder of Indiegogo), and Jim Newton (Founder of TechShop). Interviewees comment on the fact that the way of the future is democratized, small batch manufacturing, with more customization. For many years, society undervalued maker classes like woodworking and basket weaving, but creativity expressed through making is making a comeback.

The Maker movement, coupled with the open-source and crowdfunding movements, can play an important role for further driving and supporting biomimicry efforts not only because it encourages more and more people to make prototypes and test out their ideas, but also because it facilitates connections between distant makers with like interests. The scientific world can learn something from the Maker Movement too: open source inspires. The scientific community should push academic journals to make papers more widely accessible, and not make the scientists themselves pay for both the publication and acquisition of papers.

We strongly encourage the makers of these inspiring documentaries to make their next documentary about Biomimicry!

* This blogpost was written by Bill, Daphne and Emily

Other links:

– The Maker’s magazine has a post that is a must read for everyone interested in making your own Makerspace:

– Wiki house, an open house construction set:

– Digital Designs:

– Autodesk blogs:

– Shapeways 3D Printing Service and Marketplace:

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