Is Maker Faire the new World’s Fair?

The New York Times has a regularly occurring section entitled “Room For Debate,” where they bring in knowledgeable people to discuss timely topics and events. Last week, the newspaper posed the question, “Reinventing the World’s Fair, or not. Is there a way to give the fairs of the past new life? And if so, what would they look like?”


Dale Dougherty, Founder of MAKE Magazine and creator of Maker Faire, chimed in with the following response:

A World’s Fair offered the promise of what the future would bring, and its standard bearers were large companies who built elaborate pavilions that helped to make a vision of the future seem real. At the 1939 World’s Fair in Queens, Westinghouse introduced Elektro, a 7-foot tall robot that could speak with a vocabulary of 700 words, smoke cigarettes and blow up balloons. The voice box for this electro-mechanical robot was a 78-r.p.m. record player.

Today, we have lots of people building robots that are much more sophisticated than Elektro, and easier and cheaper to construct; indeed you can see some of them at this year’s Maker Faire in Queens. As the founder of Maker Faire, where individuals and groups of tinkerers, hackers, artists, inventors and builders come together to demonstrate how technology and talent can change our lives and the world around us, I think of the Maker Faire as the new World’s Fair: the people’s fair.

It is important for us as a society to imagine the future, and the World’s Fair provided a context for doing so. But it is also vital that we see ourselves participating actively in creating or making that future, and that’s what we believe Maker Faire is doing. Oh, and Mr. Greenhalgh, we just had one in Detroit — for the fifth year in a row!

For those unfamiliar with the event, we hope to see each and every one of you next month at the 5th Annual World Maker Faire, held September 20-21st at the New York Hall of Science. If this year’s Maker Faire Bay Area was any preview of what is to come in Queens, we are certainly in for a treat. With an anticipated 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees, there should be enough to inspire, inform and entertain the thousands of attendees. This family-friendly event that celebrates technology, education, science, arts, crafts, engineering, food, sustainability and much more will once again have Atmel as a Silversmith Sponsor.

Only days until we enter through the doors of the New York Hall of Science, here’s a look back at last year’s event in photos.

Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire! Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as a number of the Makers mentioned above. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects

1 thought on “Is Maker Faire the new World’s Fair?

  1. Dan Mathias Robotics Scientist at FutureBots Humanoid Lab

    The best years for Makers and Fixers was from the 1960’s to the mid 1990’s, we did it all and then some we were green before there was a green movement, if it was broken we would fix it, today is just Re-makers and probably die off in 5 years, there is just no passion for engineering like I had as a kid in the 60’s-70’s, sorry but that’s a fact..



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