Maker culture is a term that refers to a growing community of hobbyists and professionals dedicated to making their own functional devices, whether it be technological gadgets, open source hardware and software, fashion apparel, home decorating, or nearly any other aspect of physical life. The movement stems from a direct reaction to a consumer culture in which most products have become steadily homogenized and local industry has given into big box retailing of dull products made with cheap foreign labor. One of the results of the culture shift has been the fact that some of us have forgotten how to make hardly anything other than dinner and house plants, and a few of us have even forgotten how to do that much.
Maker culture represents the desire of individuals to return to a lifestyle that includes a person making their own life tools and understanding how the machines that we depend on operate. The common man has been a craftsman throughout the history of society, and it is only recently that the knowledge of how the central tools of our lives have become inscrutable products. The growing inclination for people to understand how these products work or are produced represents a coming sea change in which common society returns to crafting its own fashions, arts, and technological tools.
Maker culture is partially rooted in the do it yourself (DIY) values of a handful of subcultures, ranging from self described punks and goths to hippies and hackers. These diverse groups all held one value in common: subverting the impression that the individual is somehow dependent on consumerism for a sense of identity. To combat this perceived dependence, they set about fashioning products and a lifestyle of their own design, based on their own values and fashioned with their own hands. These cultures developed in decidedly different directions, but they made their cultures on their own stitch by stitch.
However, it is difficult for any maturing individual to not eventually eye the self aggrandizements and doe eyed idealism of these subcultures without some world weary skepticism, so with great relief that we welcome the mainstreaming of maker culture to those of us who have grown too old to sew our literal hearts on our sleeves. Instead, there is a growing world of open source design that allows any budding to designer, gadget hacker, or interior designer to build upon concepts that other individuals have discovered and made available for all to read, watch, and learn from online.