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How the DIY Movement is Reinventing America

The Founding Fathers were do-it-yourselfers, from Jefferson's explicit idealization of the self-sufficient yeoman farmer to Franklin's intrepid experimentation with electricity. Over the centuries, a return to this kind of independent DIY spirit has helped fuel the Industrial Revolution, the radio era of the early 20th century, the hippie movement, and punk rock.
Now, after decades of outsourcing and offshoring, the Maker Movement is rekindling a DIY spirit in the U.S. 3-D printing startups like Makerbot have become real businesses, while thousands of people embrace DIY projects of their own, from pickling things to raising chickens to making cars.
Meanwhile, American companies like Motorola and GE are beginning to return manufacturing facilities to the U.S.
Are these trends connected? Can DIY help spark a resurgence of manufacturing?
This panel will look at the opportunities and challenges facing the DIY movement and its potential to revitalize American industry.


  1. What are the roots of the maker movement today? Are they deep roots -- ie. are people actually making things? Or is it just voyeuristic and superficial?
  2. Some high-tech manufacturers, like Apple and Motorola, have recently announced plans to open US factories. Can the maker movement help stimulate this move to "re-shore" manufacturing? If so, how?
  3. Can the maker movement create real, good-paying jobs? Or is this just another way for us to spend money on DIY kits and use up our leisure time?
  4. What do makers need to do to make the leap from hobbies (in their garages or kitchen tables) to real businesses? What are some of the hurdles faced with the move to production? Can it be done without using overseas manufacturing?
  5. Does our education system need to change in order to foster more of an independent DIY spirit? What changes would help? Should we start taking vocational education seriously again? What about entrepreneurial alternatives like Thiel Fellowships and startup schools?



Dylan Tweney, Executive Editor, VentureBeat

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