Experimenting at Full Scale: David Lang on Being a Maker

Interviewed by: Ahmed Siddiqui

David Lang is a Co-Founder of OpenROV (@OpenROV), an open source underwater robot project. He also writes the Zero to Maker column on the MAKE Magazine blog, where he chronicles his head-first dive into the maker world. Prior to underwater robots, David managed a sailing school in the Bay and led sailing trips to locations around the world.
As a San Francisco resident and a mentor for our upcoming Startup Weekend Bay Area Maker event, David answered some questions about his experience as a Maker, and his predictions for the future:

AS: What got you most interested in Making/Hacking?

DL: Maker Faire. I vividly remember attending Maker Faire in San Matteo a few years ago. I was blown away by the different makers. Aside from working on such cool and interesting projects, everyone was so passionate about what they were doing. The passion was infectious. I wanted to be a part of it.

AS: Why do you think the Startup Weekend format can work for Makers?  What outcomes are you expecting this weekend?

DL: Before I got started, I was pretty intimidated by all the new tools and technology. It wasn’t until I dove in and made a commitment to learn that I realized how easy it was to pick a lot of it up. More importantly, I realized the maker community was one of the most helpful, welcoming and supportive groups of people you could ever hope to meet. With the technology changing so quickly, we’re all learning as we go. That’s the best part: we’re learning together.

Maker Startup Weekend takes the best of my experience – the introduction to the new tools and the supportive community – and packs it into a weekend format. It’s a great way to get started! 

Also, from the time I’ve spent at TechShop, I’ve noticed that amazing things can happen when makers meet each other and share skills and ideas. We’re doing that on a much larger scale here – it will be exciting to see what comes of it.

AS: Where do you see 3D printing going in the next year?  Next 5 years?

DL: More affordable, more accessible, and more capable.

AS: Where do you think sensors and electronic hardware going in the next year?  Next 5 years?

DL: Smaller, cheaper and more ubiquitous.  

AS: What do you think is going to happen to mass production in the next few years?

DL: I’m really confident about my answers to the previous two questions: where additive manufacturing and sensor technology are going. However, the impact of these technologies is less certain. I don’t think mass production is the answer. It seems to be going in a direction of micro production or mass customization. As Chris Anderson has written a lot about, we’re creating the long tail of stuff. 

There’s never been a better time to start making.

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