A couple of years ago I was flipping through YouTube looking for something to watch and YouTube suggested a guy who had a channel called "I Like to Make Stuff." Figuring I couldn't go wrong with such a straightforward title, I dove in and watched him make pocket-sized notebooks. Yep. Pocket notebooks.
Was I trying to learn this skill? Nope. Was I trying to enhance my bookbinding techniques? Nope. Was I trying to become better at this thing? No. And what did I do? I watched. End to end. Amazed at how simple this guy, Bob, made it look. So what did I do? I started watching all of his videos. As many as I could take in. A few hours later, I was amazed at the variety of things this one guy did and how all of his YouTube videos were like mini versions of all the instructional stuff I watched on PBS when I was growing up. He was great, engaging, and interesting, but he was something I wasn't: a guy who made stuff. One day I was watching some of his videos with my wife and I said "Ya know, my dad would love this guy if he was still around," and she agreed. It's true. My dad was a carpenter, and sadly while he was alive I never got to learn all the amazing things he knew. I had the greatest resource in the world: an amazing talented skilled craftsman and I never once took advantage of it. I was the computer guy. He was the make stuff guy. We didn't talk about that too much afterward, and I just kept watching Bob, week after week, and I started realizing something... My dad would love Bob, but what if I started doing Bob stuff? He made it look easy enough so why not make stuff also?
The thing with making stuff today is that there are so many things you can do. You can do electronics, 3d printing, woodwork, metalwork, sculpture, and heaven knows how many other things. It's incredible when you walk into something like Maker Faire and see all the things people make and the passion they have for making it, and it hits you that you don't have to confine yourself to a skill or a trade. You can just make. Whatever you want. That's what Bob did for me. Bob got me to buy my first real tools, and even though I've never made a Bob project per se, I have made tons of stuff over the past 2 years because of him. Had I never watched that one video YouTube suggested to me all those years ago, I never would have gotten off the couch and joined the movement myself. I feel like I'm a better person because of what I've taken on since his videos became a part of my life, and the influence of other people like Joel Telling, Jimmy Diresta, David Picciuto, Steve Ramsey, Angus Deveson, Keith Decent, Evan and Katelyn and Laura Kampf have all been a huge influence on my life, my path, and what I find joy in doing.
Last year at New York Maker Faire I had the opportunity to meet Bob, Joel Telling, and Angus Deveson and it was amazing. It was the highlight of my life (I'm not exaggerating) to meet three people who shaped so much of what I do now, and had such an impact on me. I got choked up telling Bob how he got me off the couch and got me to turn my basement into a shop and really push on making things. I still have a hard time putting into words how much the maker movement in general has meant to me, even beyond the people I named above, but every time I go down to my shop and do something, I think of the things I've learned from these people and I just can't believe that I'm lucky enough to live in a time when all this brilliance is shared online for free with people like me so we can take that knowledge and make incredible things for the people we love.
Bob said on an episode of "Making It" that it's humbling when people tell him how much his channel means to them because it's really just a YouTube channel. Well, maybe, but in the end, every one of those people above have had a huge impact on my life with just a YouTube channel, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks so, so to all the makers who choose to share their incredible skills with the masses, thank you. It's not easy putting up with trolls, and whiners, and idiots, and YouTube comments, and Twitter flame wars, and the fact that you do day after day means more to us than you understand.
I would never be on the path I'm on without you, and what my life would be without this movement and everything I've learned from it is saddening to me.
That, to me, is humbling.