A buddy of mine was griping:
Have we become a nation of observers? Non-participants? We don't make/build anything anymore. ...
It's something I have been thinking about for a while. I used to think, as my friend said, that we watch, we buy, but we don't build and do. I heard some parents talking about his kid who made a computer -- all the kid did was buy a chassis, supply, motherboard, and processor and plug them together. I was worried about our creativity. But then I started looking harder.
I started tuning into the Makers. There are huge communities of kids building things, doing extreme sports, making videos and tunes with their computers, making fun with fire. Look up catapults, siege engines, potato guns on the web. Here is one I saw just two days ago -- a guy wanted to build a solar reflector and got carried away. Bought a satellite dish (the huge ones) and outfitted it with mirrors.
Check out MAKE magazine, published by O'Reilly, and their annual Maker Faire. I went this year and it was awesome. Must have been 1000 exhibits of stuff people are making and doing.
Do you know about Lego Mindstorms? The son of the Lego founder did a Lego-based robot kit and people started hacking it. After some soul-searching, they decided to open the architecture and the result is a fantastic network of clubs doing Lego robotics.
And likewise for the Roomba -- the company, iRobot, has developer kits and people are making robots out of them.
And you don't have to go to geekland to see it. It's all over -- Home Depot, Food Network, Martha Stewart, and the mall stores where you paint pottery. The lady who runs a coffee shop I visit is making a quilt and told me quilting is big! And the web itself is swarming with words and images and music produced by ordinary people.
Seems to me creativity is alive and well.
Gotta go now. I need to go make something.