An interview on Making with

Mike Warren (mikeasaurus)

Designer, Instructables and Autodesk

About Mike

Mike Warren is a designer, inventor, and author based in San Francisco. His work combines electronics, woodworking, and reuse using physical fabrication in line with the maker culture. His open source work is carefully documented to inspire and encourage others to remix his projects and share the results. Warren won The New York Times Innovation Whiteboard in 2012 for his umbrella light (an illumination device retrofitted into the shaft of an umbrella to indicate location to others in the dark) and was the favorite selected by James Dyson. An advocate for making things yourself and problem-solving, Warren is the author of a maker book for young adults 23 Things to do before you are 11 1/2, as well as 2 all-ages books about making, and served as the technical editor for the young adult fiction Dewey Mac Kid Detective. His work has been featured in PopSci, The New York Times, WIRED, BoingBoing, Vsauce, and many more. He is currently a designer for Instructables and Autodesk where he shares DIY tutorials.

What is Making?

Making is a personal expression to create. Whether making something physical or digital, it’s a personal journey manifested through your own personal lens. This might sound hokey, but it if you ask 10 people to build a box you’ll get 10 different boxes. All the boxes might have similar characteristics, but will all be slightly different.

Just like there are many ways to solve a problem, there are many ways to make and create. That’s what Making is, creating something that’s meaningful to you.

Who are Makers?

Makers are people who want to change the world around them, big or small, and who can see solutions to gaps in their lives. Makers want to create or challenge themselves creatively.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and makers are the ones who take that call to action and make those ideas reality.

Why is Making important?

Making is important as it keeps us engaged on things we already know, and challenges us to learn something new. I think Making pushes innovation through upcycling old things and ideas to make our environment a more interesting place.

I also think Making is a way we can tangibly make sense of news and ideas we see around us, and things online. For instance, I can read about a new technology, concept, or process from someone in another country and apply it directly to ideas in my own workshop. There’s a symbiotic relationship between sharing and making, and that keeps us all striving to learn and explore.

What is an exciting example of Making and why?

The most exciting thing I have seen lately is the access to free online tools that allow anyone to digitally design without having to be an expert.

These tools are geared to have a low barrier to entry so that young makers can get involved, but scale really well to older designers and can handle complex geometry with reasonably high precision.

This is exciting as it has eliminated the price point that previously put budding designers out of the game, and opened up the field to anyone with access to the Internet. 

How is Making transforming education?

Making is hands-on, and hands-on education is critical to learning.

Education programs that use project based learning allows students to be directly connected to the project they are learning about. Through iteration and research students are more intimate with the subject they are learning and therefore more likely to continue learning about it, even after the class is over. 

How can Making change my community?

Making with other people creates a bond through sharing, and a shared experience through completing a project fosters community and encourages others to participate.

How does Making solve big problems?

Just as Making creates community, the same community can band together and tackle big problems. The strength of the community will bring Makers with different skillsets together and solve big problems more effectively.