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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
‘Maker’ spreads spirit to make a difference
     2014-August-1  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Luo Songsong

    songsongluo@126.com

    MAKER FAIRE was successfully held in Shekou in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District in April with hundreds of individuals and corporate innovators demonstrating their latest products and services. This was largely thanks to Kevin Lau, 28, maker ecological community director of Shenzhen-based Seeed Studio, which co-hosted the event, the world’s largest gathering for do-it-yourself professionals and hobbyists initiated by Make magazine. Lau was determined to bring the event to the city after he realized that the popular fair had never been in China, or even in Asia.

    The first Maker Faire

    In 2012, Lau joined Seeed Studio to lead its marketing department and visited the Maker Faire in the United States. When he was invited to Make magazine’s headquarters in 2013, he saw lots of pins placed all over a big world map to mark every city that had held mini-maker events. Shenzhen was one of them.

    In addition to the pins, there were six flags on the map marking official Maker Faires that had been held in only six cities in America and Europe. Lau was determined to upgrade Shenzhen from a pin to a flag.

    “Regarded as the Hollywood of makers, Shenzhen boasts a modern and complete industrial supply chain,” he said. However, it was impossible to organize an international event without a venue, sponsors and exhibitors from all over the globe. Thus, Lau organized and led a small team to visit numerous organizations and explain their plan of hosting a Maker Faire to bring the maker spirit to the people of China.

    Even though they were rejected again and again, they eventually raised 1 million yuan (US$161,000) and found a large field to serve as the venue. The real challenge was inviting Chinese makers to attend. “Chinese inventors have made lots of amazing things, but most of them are introverts and don’t want to be on display in front of others,” said Lau.

    Lau heard about a maker from Shantou City in eastern Guangdong Province who made iron armor, but it was difficult to convince him to attend. After several rounds of patient communication, the maker agreed to attend the event and Lau sent a car to bring the armor to Shenzhen.

    The two-day event soon became a hit, and a few leading makers got together to brainstorm and exchange experiences, including Dale Dougherty, founder of Make magazine, who later invited many Chinese makers to attend the world largest Maker Faire in California in May.

    Lau was surprised and excited by the increasing presence of Chinese makers on the global stage. “I hope more people learn what makers do and that Chinese makers present themselves on international platforms more often,” said Lau.

    What is a maker?

    The concept of a “maker” officially came to China in 2011, but Lau had begun making things when he was about 7 years old.

    “During summer vacation, my mother would wake me up by yelling and pounding on the door every morning, and it always freaked me out,” Lau recalled. To prevent those rude awakenings, Lau connected a string to his clock so his mother would only need to pull the string to wake him.

    His passion for making things continued throughout his childhood. In high school, he joined a robot football players club and earned the nickname “computer boy.” In 2005, Lau began studying digital media at the Guangdong University of Technology.

    He wasn’t satisfied with the limited information available in his textbooks and classes, though, so he began to look for more knowledge in professional forums online. Lau quickly got hooked on a new technology, multi-touch. Driven by enormous curiosity, he started to make a multi-touch table on his own.

    He asked a village carpenter to make him a frame. Then, he bought some necessary components online and started to assemble it by himself. After lots of experiments and practice, he accumulated significant experience in the field.

    He established an online forum called MT2A (multi-touch to all) with a partner and translated the latest developmental materials for the technology from Western countries. With more than 20,000 registered users, the forum helped Chinese enthusiasts access the latest tech news for free.

    He said he was happy to see so many people use the information to make things on their own. “Aside from thinking and making, real makers share what they have learned and help people improve instead of simply chasing after money,” said Lau.

    Before he graduated, he was encouraged by a visiting professor to continue his studies in Germany. In Germany, he visited art studios, discovered open source hardware and learned how to blend technology with art.

    In 2009, Lau returned to China and was eager to find people with similar interests. Eventually, he found Keith Lam, a professor from the City University of Hong Kong and joined Lam’s art studio to focus on art. During this time, he worked with his colleagues to create interactive installations, including a golden award piece for the Design for Asia Awards in 2013 and another piece for the Asia Digital Art Awards in 2012.

    Lau’s goal in creating art was to inspire people to think, but he realized that young people seldom pay attention to art, but are obsessed with the Internet. When the founder of Seeed Studio asked Lau to join the company, he agreed and hoped to help the maker spirit inspire and change young people.

    Who can be a maker?

    Makers are everywhere. “People don’t need to be an engineer or entrepreneur to be a maker,” Lau said. “A maker is someone who changes the lives around him with his hands and is willing to share his experience with others.”

    “When I attended the Maker Faire in America, many U.S. families brought their children to the fair. These little kids would raise many critical questions and offer constructive suggestions,” said Lau. Based on his understanding of children’s education, he began to open maker studios for parents and children.

    “You can either force students to learn passively or put them into an innovative environment and encourage them to think and raise questions,” said Lau. “You can either be a keyboard master behind a computer and make meaningless comments on the Internet or you can choose to be a maker and make a difference.”

    Although he is busy preparing for the Maker Faire Shenzhen next year, he is still full of positive energy for educating people about makers.

    “When I finished a two-day workshop program in Qinhuangdao [in Hebei Province] recently, a boy told me that makers don’t need to read many books or major in science and technology, they just need to have a good idea, practice and work with teammates,” said Lau.

    “A maker is someone who changes the lives around him with his hands and is willing to share his experience with others.”

    — Kevin Lau, 28, maker ecological community director of Shenzhen-based Seeed Studio

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Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn