Book Report #1: Chris Anderson’s Makers

As much time as I spend writing about my anxiety and gender transition, the larger goal of this blog is to write about how I’m changing my life in general. One aspect of this is reading more often. I didn’t read many books growing up. Much of this is because I simply gave up on life at a very early age. Now, that I’ve climbed back on the horse, I find my curiosity returning. An ex-girlfriend told me once my brain is like a sponge. While much of the water I am absorbing is online. Most of the nonfictional knowledge and pure poetry and beauty of fiction is still stuck in dead tree form.
So, the purpose of these reports is to share my opinions of each book I read. I hope that, with the personal expectation that I will summarize my experience once the final page has been flipped, I hope to retain more knowledge and get more out of it. And I suspect that by using the term “book report”, I’m calling back to my regretful earlier days of primary and secondary school when I didn’t see the purpose of continuing after being saddled with the debt of wrong gender.

While dog sitting up in Lafayette over the weekend, I finished Chris Anderson’s Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. Anderson is a talented writer, whose enthusiasm for the subject matter is infectious. He sucks the reader in with one hand and explains why you should care with the other.
I’ve known for a good number of years that Chris Anderson was the now former editor of Wired Magazine. But, until i started seeing him being interviewed for his then current book, Free: The Future if a Radical Price, I didn’t know exactly who he was. I didn’t know what he looked like. Or, more importantly, who he was.

In Makers, Anderson (if I write Mr. Anderson, I immediately think of The Matrix) starts off giving the reader an inside view of his family. Specifically, his grandfather. This is a great place to start. Chris Anderson’s grandfather was an inventor. By starting here, he is able to show how things have changed for inventors when it comes to getting their ideas out to a wider audience.
Its not only maker spaces and garages, covered in this book. Although, he does wrote extensibly about their importance. And it’s not just the modern tools like 3D printers that would cause his grandfathers jaw to drop. No. Chris Anderson sets up a much larger tent in describing how all these smaller and more specific trends are changing our culture at its core.

I still remember taking shop class in junior high. In wood shop, I constructed a jewelry box my mom still uses. And in metal shop, I made a much less interesting box that I recently dug out of storage to find it full of love letters from teenage crushes. Anderson writes about how we moved away from that hands on learning with real material objects as the Internet and information processing became a more important and desired tool.

But, now that we are several years into our information revolution, Chris Anderson sees a move back to the hardware. He details many instances of how entrepreneurs are using the Internet to not only communicate with people on the other side of the planet. But, also how people who have the same kinds of ideas his grandfather had, don’t have to give up control of their ideas or even go into debt building factories or hire employees to make their dreams a reality.
Mr. Anderson (dammit) even talks about how he started the company that let him quit his job at Wired and how his own experiences mirror those of others around the world. Open organizations and volunteerism is changing the world everyday now. If its a car designed by a community of rabid fans or a crowd funded Kickstarter campaign that proves the viability of a product. There’s now easier and more effective ways to get things done.

As with Chris Anderson’s other books, this one is a page turner. While I’m confident others will find it informative and enlightening, I’m also wondering if the reason I read it so fast was because I saw a bit of my family in his grandfather. Was it easier to make that connection because I knew someone like him? Perhaps that helped me turn the initial pages. But, I’m confident Chris Anderson’s persuasive way of laying out his argument, his skill as a writer and his in depth knowledge of the subject matter make Makers a book I must recommend for those looking for where our world is headed.

I enjoyed it.


About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
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