I’ve been hearing a lot about the Maker movement, the no-longer underground swell of talented, creative, adventurous people we used to call hackers. Maker Faires (why the “e”?) are popping up all over the country, and participants both young and old are creating and sharing bytes and pieces on topics as diverse as Halloween costumes, robotics, fabric, toys, energy sources and more. I don’t think most makers are doing this solely to build better mousetraps. A love of tinkering, and a sense of personalization definitely play large parts.
It’s the personalization that I think has the most potential for creativity as well as monetization. You either like to tinker or you don’t. You’re driven to improve or you aren’t. But everyone loves to feel special. Whether they’re monogrammed cashmeres from J.Crew, vanity license plates for your car, or M&Ms with your picture on them, an imprint on an article makes it uniquely yours.
In our immediate media world, there are dozens of ways Maker-wanna-bes can become stars of their own show. YouTube and Pinterest are the most obvious. Every avatar is a personal statement of sorts. And since the days when the original Teddy Ruxpin read stories to your child, to Bert and Ernie now answering your iPhone, developers have been figuring out how to personalize content. Storybots, which inserts your child’s picture into an animated story, created by the same JibJab guys who brought us elves and political satires, are one more example of targeted content incarnation.
So how do Makers and marketers and monogrammers merge? That’s our challenge. Media can no longer be a one-size-fits all commodity. Interactivity is the new normal. Collaboration beats out competition. Old is a perfect reason to re-new. Toys, books, music, movies and television have to speak directly to the users. The tools are here. The talent is here. It’s our job to Make it happen.
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