As a riff off of Matthew T. Dearing's "We Are All Makers" post, I wanted to rant about the anti-makers.

I do like the fact that there are so many makers and hackers; I'm not sure if their numbers are increasing as there's always been craftsmen and hobbyists, but I hope so.  Certainly it's going on a lot even physically near me (in Cambridge MA), and I am sometimes a maker--I'm into building robots and costumes (and steampunk costumes).  Some are moving into new realms, such as the DIY bio-engineering activities.

It's really unfortunate though how many idiots are downright frightened of the output of makers and hackers.  For instance, in Boston people waste the time of bomb squads to investigate benign glowing objects such as the Ignignokt LED signs placed by VJ Zebbler (who is quite a nice guy; I run into him sometimes in Boston) for a marketing campaign in 2007



and the LED board on a shirt worn in an airport (also 2007) by MIT undergrad Star Simpson.


It's not limited to Boston, of course--when I went with an MIT team to San Diego several times with our autonomous underwater vehicle, there were those observers who claimed we had some sort of bomb.  But they were half-kidding and didn't call the police on us.  

It's really scary that even in a college town full of hackers and makers and researchers (and trust me the stuff in labs looks much scarier than a simple LED board), and we have idiots who think glowing lights will explode and that exposed circuit boards (or even breadboards) == terrorism. 

(Image credit: Bunnie)

Perhaps I've created a straw man--is there anyone really so extreme that they can't stand anything DIY?  Or is it just that each person prefers their DIY hobby, but is easily intimidated by others' hobbies that they don't understand?

Or is it that some people don't want to understand weird and pointless making and hacking--as Dale Dougherty said in the TED video referenced by Mr. Dearing, a lot of making is done for reasons the makers make not even know.

Are people afraid of glowing boards and exposed wires simply because that always accompanies a bomb in movies?  The sad truth is that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) do exist in real life; warfighters in the Middle East encounter them (sometimes tragically) every day.  But the grotesque paranoia about complex and/or electronic DIY projects that seems to have gripped some people in the US is dangerous.

The reason the fear is dangerous is that makers shouldn't have to worry about being arrested and/or shot because some idiots are afraid of the "magic" which is normally covered up behind shells of molded plastic.