Musings on Cons and Maker

I’ve had an active two weeks. You may not have been able to tell from my posts, which are conveniently pre-queued, but I’ve done two conventions and then some.

One was Maker Faire. Maker Faire is basically “Geek DIY”, where you can hear music played on Tesla Coils, see Adam Savage (no relation that you can prove), buy hand-made soap, and see what happens when people build a dragon out of truck parts (answer: Gwar’s idea of a minivan). ¬†Also there was at least one Naruto.

One was Anime North. Anime North is the insanely huge anime-and-more convention in Toronto I’ve been doing for ages. It looks to have broken 20K attendees this year, covers a wide variety of ground, and has a huge amount of artists, cosplayers, and more. ¬†There were more Narutos, if you’re keeping track.

In some ways, these events are different. Maker Faire is more building and tech than pop culture. Anime North is highly social with dances, raves, and more. Yet, underlying each is a current of “hands-on-involvement.”

Turning your favorite My Little Pony character into a human analogue, a repurposing, is similar to the repurposed technology we saw (like a tree of fire-spitting umbrellas). The hobbyists who do insanely complex things with Arduinos and 3D printers aren’t much different than the people in the artist’s alley, crafting their own creations. Also, steampunk is freaking everywhere at both events.

However what I didn’t notice was a lot of awareness of the similarities between Maker events and Con events. There was some crossovers (including at least one random Naruto at Maker) but I didn’t feel any “contunity” between the two kinds of events. I just found a lot of similarities.

I’ve got an inkling in the back of my mind that this can and should change, especially from a progeeky point of view. The power of the Maker culture, paired with the enshusiasm of fandom, providing the fans an even wider scope of ways to build, make, and grow, could be amazing. With such growth potential and support, the fans and otaku of “regular” cons could realize their professional and semi-professional potential much easier and more effectively.

How do we build further bridges? Hell, I’m not sure. Yet, but I’m starting by trying to get Maker events started at cons I work with.

I am willing to entertain suggestions . . .

Steven Savage
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at