Make magazine, launched in February 2005 as the first magazine devoted to Tech DIY projects, hardware hacks, and DIY inspiration, has been hailed as "a how-to guide for the opposable thumb set" and "Popular Mechanics for the modern age." Itching to build a cockroach-controlled robot, a portable satellite radio or your very own backyard monorail? Hankering to hack a game boy or your circadian rhythms? Rather read about people who fashion laptop bags from recycled wetsuits and build shopping cart go-karts? Make is required reading.
Now, following on the heels of Make's wildly popular inaugural issues, O'Reilly offers Makers, a beautiful hardbound book celebrating creativity, resourcefulness and the DIY spirit. Author Bob Parks profiles 100 people and their homebrew projects-people who make ingenious things in their backyards, basements and garages with a lot of imagination and a little applied skill.
Makers features technologies old and new used in service of the serious and the amusing, the practical and the outrageous. The makers profiled are driven by a combination of curiosity, passion and plain old stick-to-itiveness to create the unique and astonishing. Most are simply hobbyists who'll never gain notoriety for their work, but that's not what motivates them to tinker. The collection explores both the projects and the characters behind them, and includes full-color photographs and instructions to inspire weekend hackers.
Parks is just the man to track the quirky and outlandish in their natural maker habitats. A well-known journalist and author who covers the personalities behind the latest technologies, Parks' articles on innovations of all kinds have appeared in Wired, Outside, Business 2.0 and Make. He has contributed essays to "All Things Considered" on public radio and discussed trends in technology devices with Regis Philbin and Russ Mitchell on television. As a Wired editor, Parks directed coverage of new consumer technologies and contributed feature articles.
All those who love to tinker or who fancy themselves kindred DIY spirits will appreciate Parks' eclectic and intriguing collection of independent thinkers and makers.
Date Published 12/1/2005
Rated By: A Williams
From: Neutral Bay, Australia
Comments: Nice inspiration and a marvelous coffee table book
I find a my love of "Make" magazine a strange thing. I've only built one thing from the magazine and two from the website, yet I enjoy enormously the tales and instructions. I read the magazine and the RSS feed religiously. Perhaps it is that I am heartened that the day of the backyard tinkerer both having fun and doing serious work are not behind us. Perhaps I enjoy knowing there are other nerds out there.
It's therefore no surprise that I enjoyed what must be O'Reilly's first coffee table book - "Makers". Subtitled "All Kinds of People Making Amazing Things In Garages, Basements, and Backyards" this marvelous hard cover volume covers a large range of projects from an incredibly diverse group of people.
The tales are amazing, from a 19 year old high school student (who looks five years younger) who took atmospheric samples with a kite and a plastic drinking cup all the way through to the electrical engineer in Virginia who spent a year and $1,000 building a nuclear fusor.
In between there is a good sampling of the home enthusiast, high school students, researchers and the downright kooky. There is a good mix of design hacks, electronics, engines, useful, strange and marvelously useless that really define the home tinkerer. Here are the tales of a bunch of people who just had to "scratch their own itch."
Most of the stories are a two page spread with a picture or two showing the project and on the facing page the text. The pictures are good quality and a mix of the entertaining and informative. For each story you get the name, occupation and location of the maker along with the cost and an estimate of the time taken to build. For most you also get a URL where you can go for more information.
The book is attractive, well laid out and informative with only a few minor gripes in the quality of the editing - an example "You can instantly change the message at any point instantly by typing a new one and pressing Enter." The paper stock is typical of a coffee table book, a high weight semi-gloss, and the design uses some good looking easily read fonts in a wide open layout. It looks and feels marvelous.
Finding a project is easy, the Contents page lists each of the 100 projects and their makers, and the back has an alphabetical index of the makers. O'Reilly have a page for the book though it gives little real detail, the Amazon page is more useful and informative. This is another gentle reminder for the people at O'Reilly that the usefulness of these PR pages has been dropping lately.
My one serious complaint is that the book is light on details for both the projects and the makers themselves. Since most have some sort of a website about their projects I was most upset by the lack of detail about the people - I'd have enjoyed knowing more about their process, history and motivations. As it is I am left wondering since most seem loathe to talk about themselves on their site. A good length interview with each would have improved the book enormously, though probably required shortening the list of projects. Personally, I would have preferred it. As it is we are left with a book that is indeed a coffee table book - just that little bit too superficial but attractive and probably worth buying nonetheless. I give it four stars because of the lack of depth, on every other criteria it is five. It is full of tales and inspiration.
O'Reilly's biggest mistake was in the release date for this book. It was probably just a little too late to get into everyone's Christmas list, but it may be just the thing for that last minute gift or to soak up the gift certificate from Aunt Margaret.
Rated By: C. Charla
Comments: wow This is a great compliment to the more project-based MAKE magazine, as it focuses a little more on the personalities of the "makers." Of course, it also describes (and shows, in beautiful photographs), their projects, but it's a great way to see into the personal side of the amateur engineers, bored brainiacs, and fringe-worthy souls who are the heart of the newest form of the DIY geek culture: creating incredible, real-world projects, from the mega (a home built submarine for 3) to the micro, (a diy bat detector), to the whimsical (a Lego blocks project that will solve the Rubik's Cube).
If you're a vociferous reader of Slashdot, you may have seen some of these projects before, but the book really gets into the motivation behind them.
Production values, writing, and design are superb, and of course, URLs are provided so you can find out more on the makers' sites.
Bottom line, this fascinating survery of Make culture (and cool projects) is a must for every geek's coffee table, and it's also a great way to introduce your mom into what it is you actually do with your spare time...
Rated By: Thomas Duff "Duffbert"
From: Portland, OR
Comments: Saluting human ingenuity and creativity Tools and I usually don't get along real well. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the skill of those who can make something out of seemingly nothing... Makers: All Kinds of People Making Amazing Things In Garages, Basements, and Backyards by Bob Parks. A beautiful book that salutes the sometimes off-beat inventor we'd probably all like to be...
Parks has taken 91 "makers", those who have invented and created things out of the ordinary, and given them a short one to two page write-up on their invention, their story, and their motivation as to what makes them tick. In many cases, it's a matter of making a gadget out of trashed treasures that someone else threw out. Take Greg Miller, for instance, who built his own night vision scope from discarded parts and $39. Or you have the group of hackers who built an electronic lock-picking machine out of obsolete and castoff computer parts... cost $0. But there are also the serious inventors who devote large amounts of time, energy, and money to pursuing their dreams. Like Tom Chudleigh who has built a spherical wooden treehouse that took him two years and well over $10ooo. Or Hans-Joerg Krohn who missed being able to fly all the time before he was transferred to a job in Kazakhstan. To satisfy that urge, he spent over $12000 and 10 years building a full-scale flight simulator with multiple computers and customized instrument panels. While the back of the simulator looks like a Rube Goldberg device, the seating canopy looks like a professional trainer. An incredible feat of engineering...
O'Reilly has done a superb job with this "coffee table" book. After the success of their Make magazine, it's not surprising that they would publish something like this. What is unusual is the quality and beauty of the volume. Heavy paper stock, full color pictures, and a stylistic look that kept me turning the pages and marveling at how creative people could be.
This isn't a "how to" book, so if you're intending to buy something as a tutorial on building things, look elsewhere. But if you want to be inspired by human ingenuity and creativity, this book will definitely fit the bill...
Rated By: Bradley J. Dixon
From: London, ON, Canada
Comments: Excellent - overview of curious projects and the people that build them This book is a synopsis of some of the people that have appeared in the MAKE magazine (quarterly). The book includes about 100 brief (usually 1 page) overview of very interesting projects (for example a minature submarine or a realistic cockpit of a fighter aircraft) created by home hobbists. The key is "You Could Try This At Home", which is what MAKE magazine is all about (and the liability disclaimers are almost a severe as the back of a burningman (www.burningman.com) ticket. This book was inspiring! If these people can do this... so can I! I think you will find this book to be an enjoyable introduction into the world of technology project Making.
Now, back to my workshop... to Make something! I hope they make a Vol.2 in a few years.
Rated By: Trilok "Trilok"
Comments: Cool or what? This book is full of stuff that I'd love to build myself. Its just great to see what people make for themselves. Inspiring, great to flip through. Makers and geeks will be chuckling in excitement.
Rated By: Jack D. Herrington
From: Silicon Valley, CA
Comments: Stories that let you know your not alone This book is a collection of one or two page stories about people who create things, the Makers, as it were. And the stories about the people, and what they make, are fascinating and inspirational. Garage handiwork is back (though it really never left), and this book shows how is chic to be geek.
Rated By: D. Donovan,
Comments: Your home garage: hot lab of innovation Around the world there's an underground of citizen engineers hard at work making their own cameras, weapons, medical equipment, computers, and more in their garages, backyards, and homes - and their worlds come to life in both interviews and color photos in MAKERS: ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE MAKING AMAZING THINGS IN GARAGES, BASEMENTS AND BACKYARDS. From a farmer in Montana who modified a hay baler to break up derelict homes on his property to a Seattle apprentice electrician who has developed a fascinating Tesla washtub coil, these are lively portraits of inventors at work.
Rated By: William Gurstelle
From: Minneapolis, MN
Comments: Makers - well done book about fascinating people Bob Parks is a Vermont based free lance writer, well known among those who tinker with interesting mechanical, electrical,and other machine-like things. In Makers, Parks goes deep within that world to learn about and describe some of the best, and in my own opinion, most clever machines that individual makers have built.
His world of "Makers" is a big, exciting, and nuanced sort of place. Best of all, I think Parks understands what makes these folks tick, and brings that out well through excellent prose and helpful diagrams.