Thursday, November 23, 2017


The Foundational Works of the Maker Movement

8 Updates, last on December 12, 2017

Perhaps due to its long history of pioneering across a continental wide wilderness, America has always had a significant streak of the self-reliant, do-it-yourself (DIY) and entrepreneurial spirit. But just when the regimented factory life of the 20th century or the " digital cave" life of many or the smorgasbord of pre-made products appeared to be extinguishing that DIY streak, a counter-movement emerged.  It began with small flickering flames representing those makers who are regular inhabitants of hardware, electronic parts and textile stores. That in turn led to a recent national and global rebirth in the concept of personal making. This has been further driven by a dramatic drop in the cost and capabilities of the technologies for making, composing, communicating, sharing, distributing and marketing things and ideas. But I wonder if it is not equally driven by a significantly repressed primordial instinct for a central art of being human; as noted educator Maria Montessori commented about effective learning in her book The Absorbent Mind, "He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man's intelligence" (p. 25). In turn, the foundational works of the maker movement in the booklist below provide direction for those hands.

Many attribute the more recent make-it-yourself awakening to Dale Dougherty's creation of Make Magazine in 2005 and its development of Maker Faires but it also has much deeper roots in the computer programming and robotics communities and the great digital palette of creative options brought on by the digital age. Collectively this has led to a broader renaissance and growing interest in all of the crafts from ancient as pottery to as cutting edge as coding and electronics. This has frequently led to hybrid products between all the forms, old and the new. In the last decade, the maker movement has held hundreds of maker faires attended by millions and built hundreds of shared community places with the tools for making things throughout the United States and the world. They are most commonly called makerspaces, and this term is largely synonymous with the terms hackerspace and fablabs.

There are two makerspaces in the North Carolina county in which I live, one in Smoky Mountain High School ( and a portion of the concept in the university library just a few miles down the highway. It is curious that the high school is ahead of the university library in concept and resources, though the building houses the university's engineering program has ample maker technology for those in its programs.  Unfortunately for me, the nearest functioning public maker space is a long drive away.

It is perhaps representative of the spotty localized nature of this maker revival that the town library and the 5 library regional library system ( do not possess on their shelves any book on the topic. This is deeply ironic and a failure to build on the self-reliant history of our Appalachian mountain communities.  However, those in the booklist below led by two hyphens can be obtained through the larger North Carolina library system. There are numerous books written on the themes  of the movement, weaving together how-to-narratives for every technology, along with those with deeper philosophy and theory concerns.  The "great books" list of the foundational and continuing major works of the maker movement is still a work in progress.  Below, in full recognition of the hubris involved, I propose a list of some candidates for the maker canon, those works most important and influential in shaping its culture. As the list is a work in progress, what appears on it will change from time to time as it should. In spite of my attempt to be thorough, it is inevitable that there will be items of which I am not yet aware and argument for and against various titles. How-to titles for specific technologies from A to Z will wax and wane and are far too numerous for comprehensive inclusion here. Building social discussion and debate around this more refined list is part of its purpose. The blog posting format yields itself well to such text driven commentary. Post your thoughts!

Decades if not centuries before 2005, there were works that will have contributed to the maker and DIY spirit. To indicate the progression over time, the books are listed by year. Where available, the list includes up to two reviews of a book. Let me know of better reviews. Astute readers looking for the executive summaries of this content would find the reviews a place to start in gaining a sense of the scope and range of these ideas. However, they are hardly a substitute for reading the book itself.

The larger social and economic implications of significantly expanding our citizens' personal making capacity are still more hopeful than concrete. We are still at the infant stage of the maker movement, perhaps getting beyond some parallel to Ford's Model T stage. It took a very long time before the business community researchers saw any bottom line value to the emerging digital age and personal computers; it is likely for the same to be the case with this movement. Much has yet to be invented and written.

P.S. If the booklist below seems daunting and you need a single place to start, I'd recommend downloading Sarah Davies's 2017 book to your digital reader, Hackerspaces: Making the Maker Movement. Articles are too numerous to include. Google Scholar shows over 12,000 works as of this writing (related to hackerspace, makerspace and/or fablabs) but literature reviews are included under the separate heading of Article Literature Reviews.

The Maker Canon Reading List of Books: 

A Date Ordered Beginning

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, 350 BCE. Ross translation (1908). Classics MIT.
"For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them".

Dewey, John. Experience and education. New York: Macmillan, 1938
The progressive education movement began in the late 19th century, lost the fight over control of the curriculum in public schools to the factory efficiency minimal-cost curriculum model of public schools in the latter 20th century. The progressive emphasis on hands-on learning by doing, centered in student interest and future-orientation remain the best alternative school philosophy to date in the 21st century. Dewey was its most brilliant advocate and critic. Its aura infuses the spirit of the maker movement and its adult community spaces today.

--Wigginton, Eliot.  The Foxfire Book: Hog Dressing, Log Cabin Building, Mountain Crafts and Foods, Planting by the Signs, Snake Lore, Hunting Tales, Faith Healing, Moonshining, and Other Affairs of Plain Living. 1972 Anchor, 1972. ISBN-13: 978-0385073530, ISBN-10: 0385073534
Reviews:  ;

Papert, Seymour. Mindstorms: Children, computers, and powerful ideas. Basic Books, Inc., 1980. This classic book has been referenced in articles and books over 11,000 times which includes many book reviews.

Levy, Steven. Hackers: Heroes of the computer revolution. Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1984. Review:

--Papert, Seymour. The children's machine: rethinking school in the age of the computer. New York : Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1994.  Reviews: ;

Brown, Henry T. 507 Mechanical Movements: Mechanisms and Devices. Courier Corporation, 2005.

--Gershenfeld, Neil. Fab: the coming revolution on your desktop--from personal computers to personal fabrication. New York: Basic Books, 2005. Reviews:  ;  “Yet, the important thing about this book is that it marked the beginning of a shift. A shift away from looking to large companies, institutions and governments to supplying citizens with products - and towards a more self reliant society. A place where we enjoy making the things that we need, in the quantities we need them in, for ourselves.”$002f$002fSD_ILS$002f0$002fSD_ILS:1635920/ada

--Anderson, Chris. The long tail: Why the future of business is selling less of more. Hachette Books, 2006. Review: ;

--Scherz, Paul. Practical electronics for inventors,, 4th edition. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 2006. Review:

--Turner, Fred. From counterculture to cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of digital utopianism. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Reviews:

--Crawford, Matthew B. Shop class as soulcraft: An inquiry into the value of work. Penguin, 2009.
Reviews:  ; “This book grows out of an attempt to understand the greater sense of agency and competence I have always felt doing manual work, compared to other jobs that were officially recognized as 'knowledge work.' Perhaps most surprisingly, I often find manual work more engaging intellectually. This book is an attempt to understand why this should be so."  ;

--Sobey, Ed. Unscrewed: Salvage and Reuse Motors, Gears, Switches, and More from Your Old Electronics. Chicago Review Press, 2011. Review:

David Gauntlett (April 11, 2011). Making is Connecting: The Social Meaning of creativity, from DIY and knitting to YouTube and Web 2.0,  1st Edition. Cambridge: Polity Press. ; Reviews: (pdf) ;

--Anderson , Chris. Makers: The new industrial revolution. New York: Crown Business, 2012.
Review:  ;

Wehr, Kevin. DIY: The Search for Control and Self-reliance in the 21st Century. Routledge, 2013.

Coleman, E. Gabriella. Coding freedom: The ethics and aesthetics of hacking. Princeton University Press, 2013. Reviews:

--, Lang, David. Zero to Maker: Learn (Just Enough) to Make (Just About) Anything. Maker Media, Inc., 2013. Reviews:  ;

Hatch, Mark. The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers, McGraw Hill Professional, 2013. No reviews.

Delfanti, Alessandro. Biohackers. The politics of open science. London: Pluto Press, 2013.

--Karvinen, Kimmo, and Tero Karvinen. Getting Started with Sensors: Measure the World with Electronics, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi. Maker Media, Inc., 2014. no reviews

--Martinez, Sylvia Libow, Gary Stager. Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, 2013.  Reviews:  ;

Wilkinson, Karen, and Mike Petrich. The Art of Tinkering: Meet 150+ Makers Working at the Intersection of Art, Science & Technology. Weldon Owen, 2013. Reviews:  ;

--Lipson, Hod,  Melba Kurman. Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. Wiley, 2013.
-Reviews: ;

--Roslund, Samantha; Fontichiaro, Kristin. Maker faire. Ann Arbor, Michigan : Cherry Lake Publishing. 2014.  [Grades 4-7) Take a trip inside a Maker Faire to see the sharing of  ideas and projects.

Gershenfeld, Neil. When Things Start to Think: Integrating Digital Technology into the Fabric of Our Lives. Henry Holt and Co., 2014. Reviews: none, but a superb review of similar concepts is

Walter-Herrmann, Julia, and Corinne Büching, eds. FabLab: Of machines, makers and inventors. transcript Verlag, 2014. no reviews

--Aliverti, Paolo, Andrea Maietta, and Patrick Di Justo. The Maker's Manual: A Practical Guide to the New Industrial Revolution. Maker Media, Inc., 2015. no reviews.
Important related article Browder, R. E., Aldrich, H. E., & Bradley, S. W. (2016). Entrepreneurship Research, Makers, and the Maker Movement. Working Paper.

Oskay, Windell, and Raymond Barrett. The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory: Build Over 200 Pieces of Science Equipment!. Maker Media, Inc., 2015.  Review:  ;  ; highly related article:

--Bdeir, Ayah, and Matt Richardson. Getting Started with LittleBits: Prototyping and Inventing with Modular Electronics. Maker Media, Inc., 2015.

--Dougherty, Dale, and Ariane Conrad, and Tim O' Reilly. Free to Make: How the Maker Movement is Changing Our Schools, Our Jobs, and Our Minds. North Atlantic Books, 2016.      Reviews:  ;  ;

Moser, Helen. Transformative Innovation for International Development: Operationalizing Innovation Ecosystems and Smart Cities for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction.  CSIS/Rowman & Littlefield, 2016. Review:

Davies, Sarah R. Hackerspaces: Making the Maker Movement.  John Wiley & Sons, 2017. Reviews:

Kroski, Ellyssa, ed. The Makerspace Librarian's Sourcebook. ALA Editions, 2017.
ISBN-13: 978-0838915042, ISBN-10: 0838915043  Also, Connor, Elizabeth. "The Makerspace Librarian’s Sourcebook." Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA 105.4 (2017): 422.
Reviews:  ;
“—challenges remain about how to plan, fund, locate, implement, and sustain makerspace activities in an existing program that focuses on providing access to knowledge rather than creating it. Throughout this contributed work, the emphasis is on imagination, collaboration, and production rather than technology, but considerable attention is paid to specific tools for makers.”

Article Literature Reviews

Barrett, Thomas, et al. "A review of university maker spaces." Georgia Institute of Technology, in: 122nd ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, June 14–17, Seattle, WA, 2015.

Papavlasopoulou, Sofia, Michail N. Giannakos, and Letizia Jaccheri. "Empirical studies on the Maker Movement, a promising approach to learning: A literature review." Entertainment Computing 18 (2017): 57-78. This is available as a PDF file online. "Forty-three peer-reviewed articles were collected from a systematic literature search and analyzed.... The results of this survey show the direction of Maker Movement research during recent years and the most common technologies, subjects, evaluation methods, and ped- agogical designs." This article was part of special issue publication of the journal accompanied by 3 other articles on the maker movement.

Smith, Adrian G, Social Innovation, Democracy and Makerspaces (June 14, 2017). SWPS 2017-10. Available at SSRN:

Vossoughi, Shirin, and Bronwyn Bevan. "Making and tinkering: A review of the literature." National Research Council Committee on Out of School Time STEM, National Research Council, Washington, DC (2014): 1-55.

Alpabetically Ordered  list of the included books and literature reviews.

Other Lists

Emily Mitchell's 2013 list "Books for educators interested in starting a makerspace"

179 Best Makerspace books

72 Best maker books.

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