Make: Premiere Issue, 2005

Make Magazine

Location: Sebastopol, California
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Make is an action-packed response to the growing interest in do-it-yourself design. Subtitled Technology on Your Time, this “mook” (book/magazine hybrid) is directed at readers who like to hack, tinker, build, and take things apart. The magazine’s compact, easy-to-hold format is based on Popular Mechanics and other geek classics of the 1950s, recast in bright, crisp pages of photographs and instructional illustrations.

In addition to reporting on the work of renegade inventors, artists, and engineers, Make features such ingenious projects as an aerial, kite-born photography system, a video stabilizer to keep your digicam from shaking, and a megaphone that lets you throw your voice via loudspeaker up to thirty feet away. Warning: basic electronics skills are required.

Mass-customization was a progressive design paradigm in the 1990s, allowing customers to pick their own features and finishes before a product was put together in the factory. Today, DIY customization is launching a fresh assault on uniformity, as an outspoken vanguard of users seeks to get under the hood of products in order to reinvent their function—or simply fix them when they break. While manufacturers of everything from cars to software have been sealing off the inner workings of goods, a new wave of consumers is determined to break through the barriers and understand the stuff they use.

Make is the brainchild of publisher Dale Dougherty, who has dedicated his career to demystifying software. As cofounder, with Tim O’Reilly, of O’Reilly & Associates, Dougherty created a line of no-nonsense software manuals revered by coders everywhere. Make’s editor in chief, Mark Frauenfelder, a veteran writer, illustrator, and blogger, and designers David Albertson and Kirk von Rohr pull it all together by making the magazine fresh and readable.

The Maker’s Bill of Right’s (vol. 04) nails the magazine’s philosophy with such commonsense commandments as “Screws better than glues” and “Ease of repair should be a design ideal, not an afterthought.” As more consumers demand abidance to these principles, products will have longer and more varied life spans.