It’s a great time to be a maker. A growing group of crafty, creative tinkerers, “makers” around the world have created a movement that’s changing the face of industry and the economy as we know it. “If it can be imagined, it can be made,” reads their motto.
The maker movement is being fuelled by many things, not the least of which are advancements in technology like 3D printing and mini computing such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino. Access to cheaper, faster and smaller technology tools are driving a technology-based extension of this DIY culture like never before.
Maker culture is also greatly benefiting from a growing amount of physical hackerspaces and maker spaces that are popping up in major cities everywhere. These community workspaces bring like-minded individuals together to share ideas, tools and skillsets.
In an effort to make tools and networking even more accessible to makers everywhere, a new online community called Maker2Maker has launched. The site aims to be the destination for makers to collaborate on projects and sell, share or barter their skills to makers and non-makers alike.
Providing a virtual networking space for makers was extremely important for founder Alex Markus. “In cities like Toronto and New York access to a maker space is probably not a problem,” Markus told BetaKit. “But there are lots of places in North American and the world where people don’t have access to these resources. Maker2Maker acts like a maker space in that you now have access remotely to tools and people and skills that you may not have locally.”
Like the physical spaces Markus took inspiration from, Maker2Maker in intent on building a collaborative community. One of the most unique features of the site is the ability to create virtual teams to work together on a project. Teams can be setup as either private and public, the latter being a great way to meet and work with new makers from all over the world which wouldn’t be possible on a local-only level.
Another driver in today’s maker movement is the ability to take a DIY hobby and turn it into an entrepreneurial opportunity. Makers have many places online to sell their creations. Sites like Shapeways, Hatch (formerly Makeably) and Etsy are all established marketplaces which allow makers to turn their desire to create into a potential income generator.
Maker2Maker also serves as a marketplace. But instead of selling wares, the focus is on tools and skills. Makers are encouraged to barter, sell or share their skills with other makers to collaborate on a project or to non-makers looking for something to be created. It does this by providing a platform for makers to showcase their work and skills and communication tools to connect people. At this time, Maker2Maker doesn’t manage any of the transactional aspects which may be part of this type of exchange.
Markus has indicated he has plans to offer much more detailed bio pages and further opportunities to feature and showcase individual makers on the site. He hopes to also add features aimed at providing education to makers and non-makers and make this a core aspect of the site. But for now the focus is on growing the community, especially seeing that Maker2Maker just launched in beta earlier this month.
Membership to the Maker2Maker community is free and Markus intends to keep it this way. He also wants to keep the site ad-free. As the community matures, he does expect to add some premium features which would be accessible via a paid subscription.