Chuck Stephens: Making as an Economy of Ideas

lightingChuck Stephens is a local Maker of Art, Instruments, Music and Gadgets, who also works with Eureka! Factory, which produces Gulf Coast MakerCon.  He was one of our featured Makers back in March and is back with a guest post with some thoughtful considerations about the Maker Movement.



Chuck sharing his creations at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014

The focus of Gulf Coast MakerCon, and the maker movement in general is on using tools and technology in the interest of creativity, self-reliance and personal fulfillment. While some folks do take their talents and passion to the next level and start businesses, the majority of us are just people who like to share our skills and talk about what we do.

Maker Movement Infographic

Economic development is the fortunate side effect of the Maker Movement that should be nurtured and supported, but not the prime mover.

Economic development within the maker movement is important and the DIY segment has driven the advancement of many emerging technologies, but that is a fortunate side effect, not the prime mover. The maker community is an ideal incubator for innovation, not because of our attention to profit margins or market projections, but because we are driven by curiosity and an open flow of information. Innovation is just a side effect of that socially-connected exploration. It’s not about what you make or how much you can make from it; it’s about sharing how you made it. The maker movement is an economy of ideas.

On the other hand, business is in the business of staying in business. No matter how altruistic and progressive a businessman is, he has to bring in money to do what he does. Some balance their profit margin with their sense of social responsibility while others just want to get rich at any cost. It’s hard to tell one from the other sometimes.building

This means we need to be careful of who we work with. We need financial partners who share our vision and want to build a better community, not investors looking for a quick return. We need mentors from the business community to share their knowledge, resources and time. We don’t need carpet baggers who see small scale tech speculation as ‘the next big thing’. We need real innovation and new ideas, not just buzzwords covering the same old tired business model of spending the least to get the most. We need business partners as innovative and open minded as the community they want to work with.

3D printingIt’s this free-form creative community that provides the real asset for the business sector. By fostering and supporting events like Gulf Coast MakerCon, makerspaces, STEM programs like FIRST Robotics and other fun and social tech outlets, businesses are insuring a tech community to attract and retain talent. This community also encourages fun, experiential tech education, giving young makers a wide variety of mentors and role models within the local community.

If you come to Gulf Coast MakerCon you’ll meet some inventors trying to make money with learninginnovative new products, but you’ll also meet folks who create things, and would rather teach you to build your own than sell you one. You’ll meet people who want to invest money in young businesses, but you’ll also meet folks who want to invest time to help spark new ideas in young minds. You’ll meet some businessmen looking to live comfortably from good ideas and hard work, but you’ll also meet folks who understand that there are also great dividends from the ideas you share freely.


Join us and see the Economy of Ideas in action, at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015!

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