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Tuesday
Jan282014

Pete Seeger

Hearing of Pete Seeger's passing hit me hard today. His work to revive folk music and use music as a powerful weapon for positivity in the world inspired me.

In 1992 I went to Kobe Japan and studied at a college there and then stayed with a lovely Japanese family in Yao, Osaka. I fell in love with American style, old timey, banjo music in Japan.

While I was in Kobe, my friend Joe Pepi Benge, an avid banjo player, took me to Shaggy's which was a western bluegrass bar that played the best authentic old timey and bluegrass music. Everyone but us was Japanese. In Japan, people take their hobbies SERIOUSLY and the Japanese guys had studied Scruggs and then kept going. They were fantastic. Pepi was pretty good too!

It was the first time I'd heard American folk music and I fell hard for it. I returned to the states, Claudia bought me a banjo, and I got Pete Seeger's book and checked his records out of the library and made cassette copies.

A week later I wrecked my bike and gave myself a good gash and spent the rest of the summer learning to play banjo when I wasn't limping around. A few years later, in London, I met Tom Paley of the Lost City Ramblers at the Cecil Sharpe House and bought a fiddle off of him. 

For a few years, I thought that I might have a future as a professional banjo player. It turns out I'm not gifted with a great singing voice and while I can read music easily, I don't have an ear for picking up tunes easily.

Playing banjo is one of the things that makes me happy. It's really hard to be miserable while playing the banjo. Pete Seeger gave me hope that doing art and following your passion can lead to wonderful things and have an impact on the world. I admire his work and I love that his banjo said, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

Thursday
Nov142013

MakerBot Academy

I was a teacher in Seattle Public Schools in the early 2000s. I had a generalist certification and I had a background in puppetry so, even though I was qualified to teach anything K-8, I mostly taught middle school art with a two year stint thrown in there teaching K-5.

I'm really happy to be announcing MakerBot Academy. It's our initiative to put a MakerBot in every school in the USA. I'm personally jumpstarting the movement by putting in a chunk of change and Ralph Crump and Autodesk are joining me to empower the next generation with advanced technology.

We also put together a Thingiverse Challenge to make math manipulatives so that the community can do their part to get materials ready so that when teachers get their MakerBots, they can have things ready to make that will make their classroom better.

I can't wait to see what teachers and students do with MakerBots! 

Friday
Aug162013

Level Complete - Full Speed Ahead!

Yesterday we announced that we closed our merger with Stratasys. We have a lot of work to do so this isn't a finish line, it's a milepost. It's like we've finished a video game level and it feels really good to have completed the level, but now we're on the next level and the terrain is a little different and the challenges are fresh. 

In the early days of MakerBot in 2009 after we started the company and before we started shipping, I really thought that MakerBot would be a side project. I met Zach and Adam in the early days of NYCResistor. It promptly became clear that MakerBot wasn't a side project as we started logging 100 hour weeks. We spent the early days lasercutting, banging on keyboards, acquiring parts, and packing boxes. We lived on ramen which turns out to not be very healthy. I sold my musical instrument collection and started a secret cafe in my apartment to get through that first year before we paid ourselves.

Fast forward to 2013 and, as of yesterday, MakerBot is now a public company as a part of Stratasys. Since 2009 we've shipped an epic amount of machines and now have the capacity to keep cranking them out at our Factory here in Brooklyn. We're getting ready to launch the MakerBot Digitizer which allows people to make 3D models out of physical objects using LASERS.

We didn't get here alone. All of the people who have ever bought a MakerBot, everyone who has ever worked at MakerBot, and everyone who works at MakerBot now helped us get this far. I am proud of the work we've done together and thankful to get to have worked and be working with such smart people. There is a lot of potential energy in the universe and exploring how we use it to empower creative people is our frontier. We've got a lot of work to do and the future looks bright.

(Factory image: Core 77)

Tuesday
Apr232013

MakerBot: One Foot in Front of the Other

We just hit a few inflection points at MakerBot. It's an exciting time for the company and the industry.



The biggest shift was last September when we launched the MakerBot Replicator 2 Desktop 3D Printer and the new MakerWare. By being made with a chassis of powder coated steel and with a number of refreshing updates, it's a machine that professionals can feel proud to have on their desk. The wooden machines we made were awesome and each of the 3 previous generations were leaders in the category at that time, but the Replicator 2 is black. The users that have shown up to get this new MakerBot are a mix of professionals getting a jump on the innovation process.  



MakerWare was a shift away from ReplicatorG. It's a lot easier to use and streamlines the whole process of moving a digital design from your computer to your MakerBot. Our software team worked hard to make it simpler and more powerful.

In December we moved offices. At the old botcave, I had rented anything on the block that we could put desks into and it had become a rabbit warren. With our new office, I focused on keeping things simple with simple desks and we spent our buildout money on nice ergonomic chairs. People work hard at MakerBot and it's a lot easier to work hard when you've got good posture in a nice chair.



Thingiverse Customizer is an application that runs on Thingiverse that allows people to make things that can be customized. This new class of customizable things is huge. It means that a lot of people who haven't thought of themselves as designers get to jump into the world of digital design. Want to try it? Check out the lithopanes project, as seen above and make an awesome 3D model!



At MakerBot, we're making great partnerships with companies that innovate. We worked with Nokia to create backs that go right on the Lumia series phones. We've teamed up with Autodesk to do some wonderful things too.

MakerBot is hiring! We've got a lot of work to do and we're looking for people to help us. Go to the MakerBot jobs page to check it out.

This is all just some of the stuff that we're working on. The game is on and we're focused on making wonderful things happen in the world.

As a CEO, I've grown a lot. I used to be the guy who wanted to do everything myself and now we're 200 people and I've got a team that reports to me and each one is a ninja in their field. I love coming to work. I enjoy the people I get to work with. Life is busy, full of hard work, and good!

Wednesday
Aug312011

HackerSpaces: The Beginning (The Book)

Repost of my post on hackerspaces.org. In December of 2008, a group of hackers was sitting on the floor with faces aglow with laptop light cruising the internet and skyping friends in and listening to death metal. It was 12 days before 25c3. Astera and I had a conversation that went something like this:

B: There should be a book.

A: Yes, there should.

B: We have 12 days.

A: We can do it.

The twelve days we had was until CCC started. We figured we would have it done by then. We contacted all the hackers we knew around the world and put the word out. We expected to get about a half a page of writing from each space. We reckoned that it would be a 25 page pamphlet. We also reckoned that it be easy for folks to write up a little summary within a few days of what it was like to get their hackerspace started and get back to us.

Within a week we had been scorched by a flame war, gotten a lot of both written and photographic material submitted and it seemed likely that the book would happen. Then the submissions kept coming… and coming. The hackerspaces around the world told each other about the project and many groups sent some writing in describing the beginning of their hackerspace. Word had even gotten round to groups that didn't have a space yet and they were sending us descriptions of their pre-beginnings too! The 12 days came and went and still the submissions kept coming.

After a few months submissions had trailed off and Astera came to NYC and began designing the book. She's a pro and it shows. This book looks beautiful because she took the material and somehow made it fit together aesthetically, not a trivial task. Jens Ohlig jumped into the process last year to help push the editing process forward. Remember, in our minds it was going to be a project that would take less than two weeks and it turned into something epic. It's been a long wait and I hope you'll think that it's worth it.

Download HackerSpaces: The Beginning!

This book documents where the hackerspace movement was in December of 2008. In that way it's a bit of a time capsule. It's not an exhaustive book, but we hope there are enough stories in here to show that all your excuses for not starting up a hackerspace are invalid. Each group faced down their own dragons to bring their hackerspace into existence including floods, rats, and drama. If they can do it, so can you.

We did this because we wanted it to exist and so it is a reward in itself. If you feel moved and want to support hackerspaces, we suggest contributing to the Wau Holland fund which helps make awesome things happen for hackerspaces. We would also like to thank everyone who submitted photographs and writing, this is your book.

After these years, the book is finally free in the world as a pdf. Download it, read it, and share it. We're open to the idea of making it into a real physical book and if you're interested in making that happen, let us know.

Build, Unite, Multiply!