Well, I'm back from my premeir at the Detroit Maker Faire! It's the first time I've ever exhibited at a Maker Faire and it was great, and terrible. Here are some things I learned for next time, in no particular order.
- I went to the faire, and manned my booth by myself. This it turns out is far harder than I ever imagined it would be. Saturday I was "on stage" just short of ten hours. Sunday I packed up early to avoid the rush, and because I was exhasted, but it was still a seven hour day. It takes a lot of energy to project enthusiasium for that long. I was totally unprepared for that aspect.
- Given the chance, knowing what I know now, I'd do it again in a second. Exhibiting at the faire was really rewarding in two distinct ways. One, when I could have a long conversation with another adult who "gets" what I'm doing and understands what I'm saying when I explain it. I don't get the opportunity for conversations like this often, and the faire was great in this way. Two, seeing kids' faces light up when they'd interact with one of my machines and be surprised by what it did. I would very often have to coax them into touching something, while at the same time reassuring their parents it was okay, and I'd get rewarded with a big smile and an involuntary breathless little "cooool".
- Damn the rules, eat, drink, and go to the bathroom at every opportunity.
- Be nice to the folks in the booths around you and they'll be nice back (Paul and Mary were great!) Go mad dog robotics!
- Don't expect to see the rest of the faire. I only got the chance to see about five percent of what I did last year when I wasn’t a maker. I was planning to walk around a bit after packing up Sunday afternoon, but I was way too tired.
- The crowd has great ideas, listen and learn. I brought about six projects to show. One was my drawbot, and one was my electronic organ. Several times people played the organ expecting it to somehow control what was happening on the drawbot. GAH – what a cool idea!
- Sometimes lame is cool and cool is lame. I worked really hard before the faire on an enclosure for my electronic organ. It’s made from walnut, brass, and ash, is very precisely made and has a really swanky finish. I just didn’t get it working quite in time, so instead I brought the lego keyboard I had working. Turns out the organ was the biggest hit with the kids – mostly because it was made from legos.