Maker Media Ceases Operations

Over the years we’ve had the dubious honor of bidding farewell to numerous companies that held a special place in the hearts of hackers and makers. We’ve borne witness to the demise of Radio Shack, TechShop, and PrintrBot, and even shed a tear or two when Toys “R” Us shut their doors. But as much as it hurt to see those companies go, nothing quite compares to this. Today we’ve learned that Maker Media has ceased operations.

Between the first issue of Make magazine in 2005 and the inaugural Maker Faire a year later, Maker Media deftly cultured the public face of the “maker movement” for over a decade. They didn’t create maker culture, but there’s no question that they put a spotlight on this part of the larger tech world. In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the shuttering of Maker Media could have far reaching consequences that we won’t fully understand for years.

While this news will surely come as a crushing blow to many in the community, Maker Media founder and CEO Dale Dougherty says they’re still trying to put the pieces together. “I started the magazine and I’m committed to keeping that going because it means something to a lot of people and means something to me.” At this point, Dale tells us that Maker Media is officially in a state of insolvency. This is an important distinction, and means that the company still has a chance to right the ship before being forced to declare outright bankruptcy.

In layman’s terms, the fate of Make magazine and Maker Faire is currently uncertain. The intent is to restructure the organization and rehire enough people to keep the brand alive, but it may take rethinking their business model entirely. While they aren’t looking to crowdsource the resurrection of Make, Dale said he believes the answer may ultimately come from the community’s willingness to financially support them, “my question is can we perhaps rely on the community to offer support for what we’re doing in ways we have not asked for in the past.” Ideas currently being discussed include the sort of annual membership and pledge drives used by public broadcasting.

It’s impossible to overstate the positive influence that Make has had on the public’s perception of DIY. It put on a global pedestal the sort of projects which otherwise might have never been seen outside the basement workshops or garages they were constructed in. Through their events and outreach programs, Make showed an entire generation of young people that building something just for the joy of building it was something to be proud of. Make proved that nerds could be cool in a way that had never been done before, and worryingly, may never be done again. Let’s take a look at that legacy.

Explosive Growth

When the first issue of Make hit newsstands nearly 15 years ago, Maker Media didn’t yet exist. At that point, the magazine was managed by a division of O’Reilly Media that Dale founded. Within the first year, Make became so popular that they decided to bring the “show and tell” concept of the magazine into the real world with the very first Maker Faire held at the San Mateo Fairgrounds in California.

From that point on, the Make brand seemed unstoppable. It spawned a whole line of books that drilled down into specific facets of the maker community, and after a few years, there was even a more artistically themed spin-off magazine called Craft. Many will remember there was even a short-lived Make: Television program that aired on PBS in 2009.

Maker Faire also saw astounding growth. Approximately 22,000 people attended the first Maker Faire in 2006, but by 2011, cumulative attendance to the primary events held in New York and California had skyrocketed to 175,000. The next year, “Mini Maker Faires” started sprouting up all over the United States to cater to those who couldn’t make it to the coastal events. All told, Maker Faire events were soon playing host to over a half million annual visitors.

It seemed the world couldn’t get enough Make content. Some argue that the meteoric rise of the DIY culture pre-2010 was due to a slumping economy: high unemployment and low disposable income meant people were more likely to build something for themselves or repair what they already owned rather than buying something new. Whatever the reason, Make was clearly on the forefront of something huge.

Creating A Brand for Makers

By 2013, the decision was made to spin the Make empire off into its own company, Maker Media, with Dale at the helm. The new company would not only oversee the magazine, books, and live events, but also developing new products and services as part of what was already being called the “Maker Movement. O’Reilly Media founder Tim O’Reilly believed that it was time for Make to grow beyond its enthusiast roots, and become the cornerstone of a whole new market: “A movement that began with enthusiasts has turned into an entrepreneurial revolution. As an independent company, Maker Media will be able to accelerate its growth and develop new services for the maker community.”

The new CEO of Maker Media also believed it was time to recognize the movement had grown beyond its humble beginnings. “While MAKE started out with geek hobbyists, the audience now includes families who look for fun, educational projects to do together, ” Dale said in a post to the Make website. “It also includes makers who are developing new products and services for other makers and other audiences. It includes professional engineers and industrial designers.”

Investors seemed to agree, with Maker Media securing $10M in two funding rounds between 2013 and 2015. That same year, with events now as far out as Cairo and Hong Kong, Maker Faire attendance broke 1.2 million. By any metric, Maker Media seemed well positioned to be the defacto leader of the DIY movement that was now become a worldwide phenomenon.

The High Water Mark

With that much momentum, and just four years after the last influx of funding from investors, how can it be that Maker Media is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy? With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that 2015 ended up being something of a peak for Maker Media: while cumulatively Maker Faire events in 2017 surpassed 1.5 million visitors, since that point there’s been a steady decline in attendance for the flagship events in New York and California. The company was forced into laying off some of their staff earlier in the year, and just last month, we reported on the possibility that the flagship Maker Faires might be coming to an end.

It’s difficult to nail down what went wrong, but part of it could simply be that the “Maker Movement” was content with remaining an underground niche. The glitz and glamor offered by Maker Media just wasn’t what they were after. In his announcement of Maker Media, Tim O’Reilly made a comment that today seems nothing less than prophetic: “The problem is that, as has often been said about AI as well, as soon as something crosses over into the consumer realm, it’s no longer seen as “makerish.”

In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson reflects on the failure of 1960’s counter-culture to spread despite the incredible momentum it seemed to have at the time, saying: “with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high water mark — that place where the wave finally broke, and rolled back.” This moment might be looked back on as the point where the wave broke for the Maker Movement, but we still have a chance to decide how far it will roll back.

[Main image source: Make magazine collection listing on Gumbtree]

194 thoughts on “Maker Media Ceases Operations

  1. So they’re insolvent, but does that mean the don’t have enough liquid cash on hand, or is the value of their assets less then their debts? The first isnt great, but the second means maker media is done forever.

    Dale should get all the blame for this.

  2. All Maker Faire events other than Bay Area and New York are independently-produced and independently funded. The growth of these events has continued, and show the strength of the grassroots nature of the Maker Movement. These events will continue to highlight regional makers in one form or another. I love my friends at Maker Media, and I feel for them today – but at the same time, one company does not make a movement.

    1. They’re also licensed to use the brand from Maker Media. What happens if whoever buys the brand rights after the bankruptcy starts suing the “independent” Faires?

      If the Mini Faires decide to try and soldier on without the power and name recognition of the Make brand behind them, all I can say is good luck.

      1. The mini Faires didn’t really get much or any support from make. The ones around me will be just fine and one group purposely didn’t brand with make and has thousands in attendance. The organizers of the small Faires already have a large presence and clout in their local community.

      2. While I can’t speak for everyone, I for one was drawn to the local Maker Faire because it was a fair of makers, not because of any affiliation with Maker Media. It may be hard to come up with another name that so concisely conveys what it is, but I don’t believe branding is essential to the success of the local fairs, only communication to the public about what the event is.

      3. It’s a shame for all the folks who lost their jobs, but it doesn’t mean people will suddenly lose interest in attending whatever the MakerFaire events become. I would guess that the vast majority of attendees at MakerFaire events have never seen or heard of Make Magazine. If you keep holding the events under a different name, people will keep coming to them. The fees that will no longer have to be paid to Make Magazine to use the “MakerFaire” designation can be plowed into projects and added services at the Faires, so maybe some good will come out of it.

    1. My only surprise is they lasted this long. I subscribed to the magazine way back in 2005. I used to like the DIY tech aspect, but found it very political and very left-wing. I never understood why they felt I had to be a hard-core socialist to enjoy building electronic projects.

      It came to a head IMO with their “Remake America” issue 18. It was insane left-wing babbling that could be a poster-child for the term wing-nut-job. It was a disgusting rant cover to cover against western life that would have made Karl Marx look like a robber baron industrialist. One reader was so disgusted they ripped out the horrible editorial page, scribbled “this is why I’m cancelling” and snail-mailed it to them. The editorial staff had a field day mocking and making fun of the guy. It created a huge backlash, many cancellations, and eventually they apologized. I will never forget how proud they were of themselves that they’d managed to piss off loyal customers so much. I cancelled my subscription at that time and have never had anything to do with them since 2009. TBH, I haven’t read a single thing they’ve written since 2009.

      They are clueless people who have no clue how to run a business. They are counter-culture crazies who just get sick self-gratifying thrills out of screwing with people. Anyone else remember their stance on the controversial aspects of LED throwies. They all claim to be pro-environment yet mercilessly mocked anyone commenting on the environmental impact of throwies.

      If they represent “maker culture”, then I want nothing to do with maker culture. Fortunately they don’t, they’re an insignificant fringe just likes to babble nonsense in the corner. This insolvency shows how irrelevant they are, people just don’t care about their nut-job rantings, and the maker movement will be better off without them.

      1. Lessons learned about an idealistic fringe culture that was some out to corporate culture and investors. The successful counterpart model is “4400” in the hacker community. Keep it grassroots, don’t attempt to scale to mass appeal, and don’t allow investors into your business model.
        Corporate models attract the polished, politically correct zealots who think everyone cares about their left wing idealism, salaried by profit-driven capitalists.

        I stopped buying MAKE: years ago. It had become just a sidebar to an engorged, trendy consumerist mindset, and lost the grassroots narrative.

      2. Yup, equally bewildered by the political insistence of Make.
        It’s like a bunch of militant lefties suddenly realised what fun red-necks have been having hacking stuff together, and tried to take it away from them.

      3. I dont think its counter culture if the culture theyre are countering is a minority of their audience. Maker culture is largely liberal, and as a company that aims to increase the adoption of the movement, you have the obligation to at least remain neutral. It was really dumb from a marketing standpoint even if they wholly believed in the idea. They cornered themselves for pride.

        1. “Maker culture is largely liberal,” That perception is perpetuated by the above cited overt zealotry, and it’s false. What the hard-left doesn’t see about most other groups of people is that we don’t feel the same need to project our world view on others and just keep quiet throughout most of the tantrums the left throws over their pet issues. You’ll find conservationism is much more vast a community than just the hard-core environmentalists who put humans last in most equations. The same goes for many other behavior spectrum-isms. The loudest and most shocking minority gets the press, the rest of us just keep on enjoying life and doing our thing, quietly for the most part.

          1. I feel that you are making a few bad assumptions. 1) Assuming that conservatives are quieter (citation needed) make liberals appear like a bigger group. This does not equate that conservatives are a bigger group. In fact, its more accurate to paint the US as a liberal nation because the majority of the citizens voted left. 2) Equating the hard left to “hard-core environmentalists” is a disservice to the right. The right used to be the hard-core environmentalist, Teddy Roosevelt is a noticeable example of this. I’m sure many conservatives are still as environmentalists just like the left, its just sad that the environment is now a partisan issue. 3) “The loudest and most shocking minority gets the press” this have always been true, with hard left and far right ideologies. For every example from one side, there’s an example from the other. This means that those who ” just keep on enjoying life and doing our thing, quietly for the most part.” are from both sides of the spectrum.

      4. I really hope Hackaday reads the writing on the wall and leaves the politics out of hacking. I’ve been seeing too much of exactly the same thing here. I’m especially looking at you Brian Benchoff. Stick to the hacks, not the moralistic screeds or the posts inspired by nothing more than political correctness and an urge to correct some left wing politically percieved “wrongs” in our society.

      5. Well firstly left and right wing are relative terms, not absolutes.

        If the maker magazine came across sometimes as idealistic, it was only expressing its roots. The maker community came partly from the feeling that big corp was increasingly trying wall off and control technology. Things like SCO attempted takeover of linux, DRM and increasingly monopolistic practices of companies like Microsoft meant that users increasingly felt there rights were being impinged.

        The maker community was a reaction to that. The idea that the community could provide a bulwark against these forces by reverse engineering, re-purposing and ensuring the information was held publicly , rather than hidden on company servers or behind paywalls. In many ways its ethos was as much libertarian as left wing (political affiliations are more circular than than linear )

        In some ways it is job done. There is a lot more involvement of big companies with open groups and generally an acceptance that open standards in the long run are better than closed propitiatory one. However it would be easy to assume that the battle is over. There are still forces out there who would like to grab and restrict technology for the highest bidder and there is a need to remind people of the how the battles were won.

        So if the maker magazine came across sometimes as idealistic, it was only reflecting its roots. Maybe the problem is that too many people have forgotten where we come for and can only see the results. Maker was always more than just doing things with technology. It was about ensuring that people are allowed to do coll things with technology and that was always going to be political

      6. Yup, it didn’t take long for me to notice Make was as much about Socialist indoctrination as it was about making stuff. I quietly slipped out the back door and never went back. The scary thing is youngsters aren’t experienced enough to notice what’s being done to them and, before long they get caught up in the brainwashing process.

  3. Hit the nail on the head with the observation of too “consumer” for cool. Make magazine is not really something a true maker would buy, rather something an aspiring maker would buy. So what would a maker, with skills, actually buy? A maker version of the machinery’s handbook probably.

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. As someone who was making quite likely before you were born, I watched the magazine content steadily improve with projects for all skill levels. While I don’t recall making any verbatim, I riffed off a great many.

        1. Current mode. Makers are going to make not read a magazine about making, that’s what the internet’s for. Why doesn’t HackADay have a monthly publication I wonder?

          1. This. I’m a product design engineer with 15 years of experience. I’ve been reading both Hackaday and Make for years. I find HaD has far more interesting content with far more depth that really expands my knowledge of complex subjects, which in turn helps in my career. Make has always has less interesting content, presented in a more polished (expensive) way. For me, content is king.

          2. Echoing Ian above.

            I have read and enjoyed some of the content from Make magazine, even bought a few… but a guy like me who routinely pillages components from curbside junk isn’t going to drop serious coin on a subscription to something where only 20% of the content was ever of interest to me.

            I also saw Make and the whole “maker” thing as a sort of poncy gentrification of the market formerly served by Popular Mechanics, Electronics Illustrated etc.

            HaD has provided more value to me than Make. The maker/hacker/tinkerer communities have been around long before a magizine branded them; they will continue to thrive til governments make it illegal.

          3. [Ken] said:
            “The maker/hacker/tinkerer communities have been around long before a magizine branded them; they will continue to thrive til governments make it illegal.”

            Umm, no… when it is illegal is when the maker movements really take off!
            (Just my opinion)

          4. Ditto on what both Ian and Ken said.

            I’ve been reading hackaday for nearly 15 years daily and I come here because of substance.

            Make magazine has done a lot of good for the maker community and I salute them but it has turned into a Fluff movement of branding over substance.

            I had never been to a Maker Faire outside my own city until I finally went to the San Mateo Maker Faire this year and of course it got rained out and that was the last one.

            I come here for substance- I don’t need you on another article on how to add blinking lights to something. I come here because not only do I find something unique and useful intellectually everyday, I find serious projects with documentation that can actually help me recreate them or use the useful bits from them for my own purposes. Its clear, its open, and well documented. Everything a good project should be is usually what shows up here.

            I can think of no other site that even comes close to this place and it would be a huge loss to my intellectual stimulation and my life everyday if this site closed.

    2. What is the difference between a “true” maker and an “aspiring” one? Skills? One may not be trained as a machinist (in need of a machinery handbook) and can still be a maker. One can be a maker if they’re making their robots out of cardboard, Arduinos, and servos. If there’s that level of gatekeeping going on for a community, I’d much rather spend time with the consumers, and the ‘aspiring’ makers.

        1. I think given the range of skills and skill levels in the HAD audience, we’re actually a pretty nice bunch.
          The editorial team could sometimes do a bit more work to highlight the OP’s (lack of) skills/age when a project is on the easier end. Might reduce the few critical responses when e.g. a kid or a 60yo welder makes their first basic electronics project.

        2. Im sorry that has been your experience here. There’s always going to be someone complaining about this though no matter where you go.

          For the record I’ve been a machinist for 10 years and I have a machinery’s handbook but I never use the damn thing. It’s useful for the occasional thing though but rarely.

          I would say I keep looking for a place where people can just be experts without having to Pander to the lowest common intelligence, and I mean that as nicely as I can. What’s the point of understanding things at a high level if you can never just speak with other people the same way at the same level when they are too? If history boiled down to only discussing things in the simplest terms a great deal of history would never have happened. Maybe I’m weird but I actually want to Wade amongst the self-righteous experts and listen to them so I can learn something, rather than another meme or way to program blinking lights all over again.

          That said I would say there is a lot of expertise here but most people are pretty humble and kind, just proud perhaps, and opinionated.

      1. Someone with skills and tools vs someone with neither but wanting to put their foot on the ladder. Machinery’s handbook is not only a fingertip reference for the skilled but is also a great tool for learning, which is what my comment “A maker version of the machinery’s handbook” means.

    3. I think geek oriented magazines in general have been declining in quality as they try to broaden their bases and chase dwindling attention spans. (Remember Scientific American before their format and layout change in the mid 90s? These days it seems to be trying to compete with popular science by pumping out issues crammed with froofy infographics and sidebars rather than their previous style of plain linear text with the only graphics being drawings, graphs, or photos with high information content and clear relevance).

      Make (at least last I saw it) was a mix of of pop-tech and projects for kids. There’s nothing wrong with that, but for established tinkerers there are a very limited number of projects which are simple enough to be covered in enough detail to replicate / adapt in the space allotted while also being interesting and novel enough to want to read through in the first place.

      General articles (not project write-ups) have a fighting chance but again the pop-tech and kid crowd will likely be put off by anything in depth enough to be interesting to the advanced crowd.

    4. I disagree. As someone who is both an engineer and a hobbyist, I looked to Make for ideas outside my main comfort zone, to try things I never considered, or like being here on hackaday, to see completed projects if for not other reason than to get a kick in the rearend to make something!

      1. That is fair, but I have been a subscriber since the 3rd magazine – It used to do a more indepth detailed project that was different and fun, but as it went on it started doing more spread out things and that is fine but it diluted the fan base too much taking what WAS the draw and turning it toward cosplay and younger makers. Like the 1st book I bought was about welding, modding your car, shopping cart go cart, and taking a disposable camera and making it last a long time. To the lets says #63 where it goes into tailoring, large format graffiti art, selfy-bot, coloring changing shoes, custom decals, and a lot of bots. It is like a kid on adderal and candy… All the stuff it does is good but when you are trying to make EVERYONE happy you will lose someone. My friends bought subs for the woodworking and metal project sections then they became fewer and fewer. Then as a new fad popped up it would take up a substantial part of the months mag.

        There was one that had a ton of knitting information in it. I rolled with it, but I could see people start to get frustrated that they paid so much and got so little content in the areas they wanted more of. Especially since they did special make branded issues for 3d printing, arduino, raspberry pi and a ton more under the orielly brand. It would be more economical to cater to what the people want the most then do 1-4 times a year specialty issues that can do much more detail in a niche area. Foam cosplay armor howto and things that cant be easily covered in 2-4 pages. Then more people would be happy and more subscriptions for the meat and potatoes.

        1. Marketing is a complex thing. I loved their 3d Printing Special Editions, we ended up buying the Afinia and FormLabs to used at work specifically because they were the number one picks each year.
          I even took the tear-out on single board computers to share with my engineering team.

          But yeah, it is hard to hold everyone interests issues after issue.

          As a young adult, my favorite magazine was Radio-Electronics. Then it up and died. The same happened to Monitoring Tomes.

          I guess good thing dont last forever.

    5. Why would anyone without space want to buy Make magazine? I don’t have the room.

      I looked at the magazine in the bookstore and you have to know your audience. Why do I want to store magazines of projects too expensive or be a museum of articles of projects I have nowhere to put? I think your market is too broad and Make did not realize a profit so you have to cut the fat. I know museums that don’t sell anything that don’t have this kind of overhead.

      And have we agreed on a microcontroller or what I want to learn? No. And some magazines are full of advertising I do not want.

      Here is the deal. If you are in business and not making a profit then you are unemployed because there is no money in what you are doing because no one wants to pay for it. You are wasting your time.

      1. Access to a maker-space perhaps? Interest in the subject? I reckon your observation as to the demise of the magazine is accurate i.e. targeted audience being too broad and trying to cater to too many.

      2. Or, you could just get the electronic subscription and get access to all back issues without stacking the paper mags in some corner. It would even save some trees!

        I have been willingly paying for that product for years, just for the inspiration. Never done any project. Too busy making stuff work at home. That was the value. Even the cosplay projects were fantastic come Halloween season.

    6. I’ve never subscribed to and hardly ever read Make Magazine, so I can’t judge your comments on their merit. If what you say is true about their left-wing leaning, I agree that that was inappropriate for the simple reason that it is irrelevant to the subject.
      I say this who am considerably left of center, politically. Yet among my favorite “makers” are a group seemingly never identified as such: Survivalists. I’ve viewed any number of fascinating accounts by self-identified survivalists (who at least tend toward right-wing politics if not actually rabidly so). One fellow tests mousetraps (I won’t mention names, but you can find him on YouTube), makes various neolithic-tech weapons, etc. Another described making “gunpowder” from ingredients he could find on his own land — substituting iron oxide (IIRC) for sulfur in the recipe as he had not yet found a source of sulfur. This is great stuff and, in my mind, has nothing to do with politics.

      Now as to survival of “maker” publications, how about a different means of monetization? My area is served by newspapers whose headlines I read online. I might occasionally read an entire story, but don’t care to give these papers my money for a subscription — which would amount to a lot of money. Yet it isn’t right for me to be the recipient of this information and never to give back in fees. Which is where this notion comes from:
      I think the Internet needs some SAFE means of making “nickle and dime” payments. (Maybe PayPal could start such a service?) The idea is that the means of payment would NOT link to my identification information such as credit card or bank account, etc., and could NOT be used for large-dollar payments.
      Now these news sources could set their websites up such that one could, for example, read the headline and opening paragraph for free, but on clicking “NEXT” would be charged, say, a nickel or dime ($0.05 or $0.10 USD — for the benefit of those not familiar with US coins). I believe the money would come pouring in.

      Unfortunately, I have no means of instituting such a service myself, but perhaps someone who reads this is capable n of doing so. If so, I give the idea freely and without restriction (though a “thank you” would be nice).

      1. My wife and I dropped Consumer’s Reports because of their socialist leanings.
        We loved reading articles about which appliances/cars/etc. would be the best use of our money,
        (which _IS_ conservatism), but their editorials promoting socialist government programs is what turned us off.
        As they called themselves “Consumer’s Union” they have a right to view themselves like a Union, but like the earlier commenter wrote, it was the politics that lost readership.

        “Now this should be a lesson if you plan to start a folk group
        Don’t go mixin’ politics with the folk songs of our land.
        Just work on harmony and diction
        Play your banjo well
        And if you have political convictions…
        …keep them to yourself”

        The One on the Right -Johnny Cash

  4. I hope at least the non-flagship Faires can manage (and decide to try) to keep things going. My boys and I have tickets to the Detroit Maker Faire in July, and it would be tragic for our first to be our last.

    1. Make sure you tell the organizers that! The folks from the Henry Ford who organize the Detroit faire are great and dedicated, but they need testimonials to help justify the spend.

      1. Naomi Wu, a maker in China who does lots of really interesting projects, dresses very provocatively. She has been accused by many of not actually doing the engineering or work behind her projects, and simply being a pretty face to attract attention and bring in views. At some point, Dale Dougherty tweeted that accusation, and it had an extremely negative effect on Naomi’s viewership. There was a big fallout over it, lots of apologizing, and an effort to reconcile.

        More details here: https://theoutline.com/post/2459/how-a-diy-youtuber-became-the-target-of-a-sexist-conspiracy-theory

    1. Yeah – this and I think Dale got caught up hanging ar8the VC crowd who just spend money to go bigger or bust! Well ultimately this is solely a recipe to go bust. And my brain still can’t get around why he would make such assertions about Wu after Bunnie Huong had already let him know she was legit. Unfathomable.

    2. I actually bailed before all of that, IIRC. I know when they led the charge to shame a publisher(Prentice-Hall I think) over publishing a book on “bristle bots” without “asking permission” from the “creator”. I used scare quotes because in reality the creator was Russian and had created them in the 1980s or early 1990s, and Make(and in particular a certain someone) had zero interest in hearing the truth, I was completely done with them. That certain someone moved from there to here and brought that same noise with them, I was sure to chastise them for their myopic view of “creation” here as well. I really didn’t read much during their time here because I was tired of the nonsense they tended to inject. Good riddance, I say.

    3. Lol, I missed that controversy at the time since I’d long-since abandoned Make by that point. I just did some reading. Dale Dougherty is a bigger idiot that I thought. And the article I read calls him the “father of the maker movement” what a self-gratifying p***k.

    1. Again, this is the only magazine I ~have to have~ hanging around my house. It gives my kids, and me, ideas about what could be.

      Sorry to hear it fail.

      I wonder if it could be saved in another reincarnation, something web-only, supported by online adverts?

      The list of their subscribers alone should be worth money to some companies that seek tech savvy people.

  5. In my opinion going back to the original format and just 4 issues a year would be better than what is currently being published. The product guides can go too, as far as I’m concerned. With the constant board guides or 3D printer guides it’s a little too reminiscent of camera magazines which eventually became obsolete due to lack of real readable content.

    1. A quarterly printed magazine, in 2019, are you serious? The issue was out-dated content because of the printed publication model. Extending the time between publications only exacerbates the problem.

      1. One of the things that I really liked about Make is that it didn’t have to be super-timely. They were showcasing projects that people did, and offering how-tos for tool usage. Occasionally they would have an article that just got steamrolled by some new technology, but most of the time the articles were self-encapsulated.

        I too prefered the smaller format quarterly issues. As it is, Make: Magazine most recently for me is my Airplane reading material.

        1. Gosh that was it for me too. I lived the small format versions with more things like cheese making, canoe making, some non-product based yard sensor or some such thing. I had a paper subscription with them until a few years back when I just couldn’t read another “roundup of the latest 3d printers” or “drones!” editions. I didn’t want product based projects, I loved the less specific tinkering ideas with images showing them coming to life. Really inspired me in my mid 20s to keep following my career path as an artist that builds mechatronic sculpture.

    1. Maker Faire 2009 opened my eyes to the future. It introduced me to machining, took it in college, liked it, decided that I liked making my own crap than 100’s of other people’s crap in a shop. It also introduced me to welding, took it in college, loved it, can weld confidently and could make a career out of it. Decided that I hate being hot . Introduced me to the birth of 3D printing, absolutely love it, have 7 machines and use my machine shop notes to help me understand gcode again. Laser engravers! The only one I knew about was epilog and they started at 20k. Now I have a tiny 2.5 watt one but it’s gonna be just what I need. I ate up everything that was there and subsequently made me the maker I am today. I’m not surprised that Make and MakerBot folded. MakerBot, of course was way worse. I have a few mags, they’re good but I learned more on HAD than the magazine. Still I keep them. I always talk about meeting Adam Savage there, def a cool experience. This latest episode of makers/hackers etc, will not slowdown anyone. Although if HAD goes away I really will be bummed. We are slowly taking manufacturing from the corps, and making it available to all, as we should. I’m sad that Make is going away, but it’s you smarter bastards on here that keep me interested! And I will keep making, modding, attempt to hack and get smarter from the articles and comments. It’s these two things that are the greatest thing to happen to me.

  6. This catches me by total surprise, and makes me very sad. I have such positive memories of reading MAKE and attending the maker faires, and I was hoping to share these experiences with our daughter when she’s old enough. My thanks to all the wonderful folks at Maker Media who made it all happen, and my best wishes for the future.

  7. This is likely unpopular, but they’ve run themselves into the ground for the same reasons the others did. They had an idea and a following, they innovated on the idea and turned it into a product. Then they quit innovating (really) and began milking the cow. The quit taking chances and started protecting their product– and lost their relevancy.

  8. Gasp! What will hipsters do now??

    Fear not, there’s plenty of useless 3D-printing Youtube channels that offer the same level of substance as Maker Media.
    And don’t forget the channels by makers who are not as they appear to be. Something for everyone!

  9. O’Reilly took a turn right about the time it’s founder wrote “The Twitter Book” – not that that book was influential, that just is a big shining landmark when the ship went sideways IMHO.

    Around that point in time O’Reilly went from book publisher to event organizer that happens to publish books to support it’s events. I’m hard-pressed to identify a book O’Reilly published in the last ten years that caught my attention (and earned a spot on my bookshelf) since they shifted to their current event-seminar-conference-book model.

    The Maker Media “Experiment” is everything that went wrong at O’Reilly writ large. Maker Media surrounded the entire Maker ecosystem, tried to be all things to everyone, and in the course of trying to simultaneously define and control the maker movement it left no room for competitors to enter the space and take on some of the risk. By controlling the maker “space” they tried to be all things to all people, and wound up over-extending themselves, and were unable to weather any sort of downturn in the ‘maker community.’

    Maker Media published books – how quaint – targeted at some of the most internet dependent individuals out there.

    Maker Media put out a monthly magazine that spanned the entire range of ‘maker activities’ and found itself publishing magazines so broad in their coverage that in any given issue there was insufficient material in any one area to satisfy most readers. (PS – as an industry, how is the print magazine business doing?)

    Maker Media put on a number of once-successful Maker Faires that enjoyed tremendous popularity for their novelty, but over time, the need for ever-bigger attendance numbers drove the events become all inclusive, trying to be all things to all people.

    I’m not sure if the parallels, but I’m reminded of another media sensation that seemed unstoppable, then suddenly it was stopped dead in it’s tracks: The Industry Standard. It was an unstoppable almost force of nature, a magazine that got ever thicker and had some of the best writing I’d ever seen in a ‘trade’ magazine, but one day it just stopped.

    Maker Media defined and built a market comprised of self-starters and curious individuals, people that wanted answers now, not whenever the publisher of a monthly periodical decides to cover it. Honestly, shortly after Make started publishing it’s magazine, what did it offer except content that was already available otherwise already on the web months earlier for anyone clever enough to string together the right google search expression when the interest struck them.

    Maker Media is a traditional publisher, trying to hold the Maker movement to it’s traditional publishing calendar.

    Someone will build a more focused website to document maker ‘scene’ and not try and include the “STEM” education market, a market that can attract huge numbers, but those numbers are fleeting.

    Someone will organize Maker Fairs if there is truly a market for them, but the market will dictate the content, focus, and scale with an earnest eye on profitability.

    Someone will put out ‘quick to market’ books or ebooks on Maker topics, if the market wants them, but printed books may be a relic of the past, replaced with self-produced web content and YouTube videos created to satisfy an individuals desire to share and give back to the community, defying monetization in exchange for self-promotion and ‘bragging rights’.

    Maker Media’s mistake was thinking it could do all of the above, relying on some imagined level of synergy to keep all divisions growing, ignoring the reality that problems in any one of the above could bring them all down simultaneously.

    I subscribed to the first few years of Make, but soon I let my subscription lapse, the content becoming too thin in my areas of interest, the topics covered too dated, having already been covered on the internet.

    1. I believe the books that Make: published made money, overall. Mine certainly did, and do. There are good reasons why printed books are still viable, if they are useful. A “how-to” book can be opened on a work bench and has much higher resolution than most monitors. Only about 15% of my sales have been digital (not counting pirated versions of course). Books are not “a relic of the past.”

      1. yes I certainly prefer the printed versions and subscribe to hardcopy versions of various magazines including make for various relatives. I dont know what book you wrote Charles – but thankyou to yourself and others that have taken to write stuff down

      2. Your electronics book did earn a place on my bookshelf, once the local electronics outlet (Tanner Electronics, outside Dallas) offered the “hardware kits” at a steep discount.

        A notable exception to my comment about O’Reilly/Make Media books.

      3. Agreed. I will always be a “dead tree” enthusiast when it comes to books and reference material. The printed page doesn’t temporarily go blank if you haven’t touched it for more than thirty seconds and I have yet to need to plug a book into a USB charger in order to keep reading it.

        For the record, Charles, I’ve got several of your books on my shelf and they’ve been indispensable to me, both for the personal reading to stimulate my thinking and for the ability to hand one to someone who has a question and deserves a better answer than my tangled brain could try to give them. I hope you’ll be able and willing to continue to publish, no matter what happens to Maker Media.

      4. If your book is published on Amazon, some bookstores will refuse to stock it because they won’t make any money.

        Because of some book warehouses, mom and pop bookstores are disappearing so publishers started releasing e-books and I can get less and less hard covered books.

        It is the Amazon effect where people would rather shop with their phones instead of their feet. So unless you are marketing your products online, old school people are your audience getting the paper books.

        I ran out of room after I filled the house with 70+ feet of academic books so I bought a Kindle and now I am thinking of buying an iPad.

        Electronic books stay on the cloud and don’t get stolen or lost.

      5. I am 61 and I use my tablet on my workbench when I need to refer to some data or instructions. I use it when working under my Toyota…reading the factory repair manual which is over 500 pages on just the electrical system alone. I have almost 1,000 “analog” books here on my home bookshelves but listen to an average of 4 audio books/week. To be honest, I have not cracked open a real book in years. I am assuming that most folks younger than myself use their phones, tablets, laptops in a similar manner and do very little reading by turning actual pages. I think that Make capitalized on a trend and then failed to keep up with that trend, and is suffering the fate of many others that have gone down a similar road.

      6. I do like books and have too many. The best ones to have are on things that are close to timeless: woodworking, machining, welding, electronics basics, or that serve as a full course plus reference text (eg a book on the raspberry PI, or Arduino). I just won a book on sail repairs and modification; couldn’t be happier.

        Books on programming are decent for learning and reference, but they go stale faster than bread; I’ve learned to get most of that info online now

        1. I haven’t bought a physical book in years for that very reason. When I started web dev 20 years ago I use to buy all the O’Reilly Zoo books that were related to my field. 2 years later many of them were out of date, and worthless. Also, I often found I needed 2 copies (or I’d have to carry around heavy books), one for work and one for home to use as reference. Digitally I need 1, and a screen. At work it’s my computer at home either my iPad or Kindle.

    2. Remember Computer Shopper? That was the most useful computer catalog ever because of the articles scattered among the ads. Tabloid sized, nearly 2″ thick, published monthly and the price was dirt cheap. First thing I’d read all the articles then I’d leaf through the whole thing cover to cover to learn from the ads what the latest stuff was.

      Then suddenly, it wasn’t that anymore. It was just another thin computer magazine, all the meat ripped from the bones by Ziff Davis.

    3. “Someone will put out ‘quick to market’ books or ebooks on Maker topics, if the market wants them, but printed books may be a relic of the past, replaced with self-produced web content and YouTube videos created to satisfy an individuals desire to share and give back to the community, defying monetization in exchange for self-promotion and ‘bragging rights’.”

      Information wants to be free. ;-)

      1. The problem with internet content is it has a habit of disappearing. I keep buying books off Amazon when I find a cheep copy. I got an early edition RCA Receiving Tube Manual for less than the shipping.

        On the other hand, I also like free stuff.

    4. Most of the making I do revolves around toolmaking and high end horology- of which there is a small world of very specific books at a level high enough to be useful to me.

      Most of what I work with is not information available on the internet as funny as you might believe that.

      Contrary to popular hipster belief no not everything is available on the internet. A mere fraction of human information is available on the internet.

      If you are serious about what you do you have text on it.
      I don’t care how modern your occupation even if your occupation is completely digital you have some texts on what you do laying around.

      This constant tiresome idea that print media doesn’t matter is solely driven by things like the title of this thread and the fluff uselessness that most technical writing has become in the internet age.

      For the record, im not 97- I’m in my mid 30s man. Now get off my workbench….

  10. I was a subscriber. I found the content to be rather shallow. Nearly every article had a URL to get the rest of the article. I got to really hate their quasi-schematic/pictorial diagrams. Not quite a pictorial, not quite a schematic, sucks for both purposes. They ignored conventions in drawing them. No left-to right signal flow, no top positive to bottom ground or negative. ICs drawn as rectangles with sequentially numbered pins rather than as functional diagrams. Easy to draw, terrible to understand.

    Then a friend gave me his collection of every single back issue up to the first issue. I was going to add it to our makerspace’s library.

    But first I went through them for notable projects. And I found any issue older than about a year or so was all dead links. 404 after 404. So what is the point of having back-issues? Every construction article was half an article. I stopped subscribing and I never added the magazines to our library.

  11. I wrote more than 50 features for Make magazine, beginning with the third issue, in 2005. The magazine changed very significantly over the years. Was it still filling a need in 2019, in the same way as sites such as Sparkfun or Adafruit? Or Hackaday? Should it have been more of a hobbyist magazine? What’s the difference between a “maker” and a hobbyist?

    Probably more than 1 million Arduinos have been sold. Did all the people who bought them read the magazine? If not, why not?

    My book Make:Electronics has sold more copies than the magazine had subscribers. Why is this?

    “A magazine should reflect the insanity of its editor.” –Frederik Pohl, science-fiction writer and one-time editor of Galaxy magazine.

    1. Well Make Electronics sold well because it’s a damn good book. I was in fact planning out a book somewhat similar since I felt there was a a bit of vaccume between “circuits are like racetracks, and ohms law is like a garden hose” and the deep dives a professional engineer reaches for.
      Then I read your book and was like “well, that problem is solved!”
      Encouraging people to break LEDs for example is exactly how I teach, and it helps people understand the topic so much better to “fail into knowledge”

      Not to be a brown noser, but your book stands apart.

    2. I agree with your analysis. Your Make:Electronics book has depth and a clear focus to it. It does not try to be for everyone, which means people will clearly know if they want to read it or not. Make magazine was trying to (superficially) cater to the electronics crowd, drone crowd, 3D printing crowd, embroidery crowd, cosplay crowd, etc., simultaneously, and ended up not being particularly compelling for any of them.

      In a way, it is not really a fair to expect a published periodical to compete with dedicated web sites or youtube channels.

      There is still a market for paper publishing, for reference volumes that stand the test of time.

      1. Your comment makes me wonder if Make Magazine could survive by making (no pun intended) different types of magazine e.g. Make Crafts, Make Electronics, Make Drones, Make 3-D…
        If each magazine was quarterly, they wouldn’t have to duplicate staff, in areas such a advertising, marketing, subscriptions, copy editors…

    3. Very well said. And FWIW, I think a good book is a great resource, and I’m glad to hear yours sold so well.

      I think there is a huge demand for a hobbyist magazine. I still miss popular electroncs/radio electronics/electronics now. I occasionally read nuts and volts.

      Make magazine though had nothing to do with hobbyists and was just a poorly made political rant-fest.

  12. I hope they can come back from this. They have some really good resources for n00bs like me, and the Maker Faires are some of the most awesome events I’ve been to in a very long time.

  13. Make turned into Lame and whoever came up with the idea to describe anything as a “Faire” put the final nail in the coffin. At one time it was an interesting blog. Than it turned into a predictable mix of resistor color codes, lighting LED’s and led throwies. HAD is not too far behind with the faire and dumbass badges, and more and more clickbait.

      1. That and that HAD is getting Make’s cancer of screwing with their readers. Like Brian Benchoff’s article that he calls “performance art” where he is bragging about screwing with the HAD readers just to provoke a pissed off reaction. That’s what killed Make and HAD is following in the footsteps.

  14. Make magazine faced a problem which I think is difficult to solve. Should it have grown with the audience? In other words, should it assume that its readers are getting older and gaining technical knowledge? Or should it remain at intro-level in the hope of snagging new young readers who are just getting started in areas such as electronics?

    When I wrote columns for Make I was never sure exactly how much I should explain. Certainly I wouldn’t say “A chip is a plastic component with little metal legs” but I did feel I should say “This is what an op-amp is, and here’s how to use it.” Even though I might have explained that already, in a column 5 years previously.

    By comparison, a web site has a huge advantage: it can maintain a library of basic informative pages, and new projects can link to them.

    1. The magazines of the old times have had material for all levels. You can pollute your place with a throwie, build a bloody tv-b-gone or what was that annoying thing that they could not put away literally for years, and design something actually useful or fun that requires real skill. All within a few pages.

  15. I resent the notion that the problem was that the “maker movement” didn’t support them. If there’s a group of individuals doing cool things, and you launch a vehicle to take advantage of a certain amount of growth in that group, then if that growth fails to materialize, it’s not the fault of the original group. They’re still doing their thing. Just because you thought that that group would be 10x bigger by now doesn’t mean they should be on the hook to fund you when you’re wrong. In fact, it’s much the opposite, Maker Media is essentially the self-appointed marketing arm of the “maker movement”, and it seems like they’ve failed at their job.

    This feels like Techshop all over again, where they had the kernel of a good thing, then they tried to follow the path of a tech startup and flamed out because no market existed to support the amount of growth they depended on.

    1. This. The Techshop where I visit sometimes rely wholly on contrived safety courses touted as “learning”. Regardless of being a decade into welding, I had to sit their 3 hour basic TIG course. I’m sure this had to be done for paperwork/insurance purposes however I felt (and still feel) the $200 I paid would have been better spent on some project material.

      Having to pay $100 – 200 a pop for a course in 3D printing, CNC, Milling, Turning, Laser, Sewing machine etc soon adds up when you need a bit of this and that in a project.

      Making making for makers into a business that returns a growing profit, is for sure not an easy endeavor.

      1. Hackerspaces. Where it’s at. Just don’t burn the place down.
        Lots of oeopeo over the years have told us at Tokyo Hackerspace that we should:
        – change the name to makerspace
        – get sponsors
        – charge more for membership
        – try to be a business
        – force our members to work on “products”
        – make prettier, more appealing tables at the maker fair

        That’s just not what we were, are or ever will be about.

        Yet still some people think $50 a month is a bit much. Or are surprised that machines are not pristine and in 100% working order at all times, or that we don’t have “business hours” every day of the week.

        I see no reason to charge more than $20 to teach someone a basic weld, be safe and get them to work on their project.

        We just need to keep the rent paid up and the lights on.

        1. THIS FOLKS.

          x1,000,000,000.

          Support your local hackerspace. Techshop, and the spawn of it, is pissing me off.

          You want to MAKE stuff? Join a hackerspace. Restore the equipment, maintain it, train people, add beer, encourage all gender memberships by not being sexist dicks.

          You want to kill the soul of makers? Join a techshop clone- where you pay to test out on equipment you already know, in hundreds of dollars, even though you might actually already be a machinist, a welder, blacksmith, and a few other things for a living.

          Make stuff- join a hackerspace. If you don’t have one, GO MAKE ONE. Add beer and basic powertools. Soon, like Katamari Damacy, full size equipment will coalesce into your space in horrible condition. Fix it. Make it useful. Save scrap machinery.

          Rinse, repeat

    2. >>”Maker Media is essentially the self-appointed marketing arm of the “maker movement”, and it seems like they’ve failed at their job.”

      I think in some ways, it’s worse than that. They failed to identify, or rather choose, their job. They tried to do public outreach to get more people into the community and make things more accessible but they marketed the magazine to people already in the community. As others pointed out there’s only so many articles on blinking LEDs or 555 circuits your audience can read before they stop buying the magazine because they already understand the material you cover. If you want to expand your market share, you need to write different articles than if you want to cater to a niche market. [Charles Platt] brought up similar frustrations, at the risk of putting words in his mouth, how do you deal with the eternal September? It would seem the business side of things decided to deal with it by relying on angel investors and the good will of a minority of the larger community. They hoped that once they reached some critical mass, with enough celebrity makers and technical experts that it would become self sustaining, but they never reached that.

      The trouble with herding cats is eventually they lose interest and escape your holding pen to go off to do their own thing.

    1. Maker Media isn’t a charity.

      Everything they did had the potential to either cover costs or turn a profit, that over time they lost money is really just the result of over-estimating the market support for what they were offering.

  16. Makers are stingy. Given the chance to optionally Donate for something good, my experience suggests they’ll run or pirate it. Certainly, they’ll DEMAND free support and personalised things just for them. Will
    They PAY though? Most won’t. There’s Patreon and other donation sites but woefully under used :-(. I do my bit but increasingly feel like I’m 1 in 10,000!

  17. First you brag about your intelligence, with no basis at all to compare, then you insult him and call him old (not that old is an insult, but the way you used it clearly was meant to be — which also shows a narrow mindset).

    Yes, age and time is necessary to master a skill. It doesn’t mean it magically happens, same way as being young means nothing. Yet today everyone thinks because you are young you are great in tech, which is ridiculous.

    As if technology was just invented recently…

    I dislike people bragging about their experience, but your reply was even worse.

    But the worst is that you had to insult him personally, while acting as if you had the moral high ground. It’s a really repulsive behavior, that has become way too widespread.

  18. Good news in disguise, for all of us. Anyone assenine enough to trademark and control the word ‘Maker’ isn’t worthy of our readership or participation. This opens up the market for other folks, who will hopefully be more community focused, rather than assuming the roll of Corpo gatekeeper. 👍

  19. That’s actually what interested me, always. Projects too hard and challenging for me to make, and then researching what is necessary to make it happen. If the project is attractive enough, and not unrealistically hard, then it actually makes for an interesting challenge.

    But I guess most people prefer short time challenges: faster, higher, bigger, best, etc.

    1. Same. I never cared about what was easy- I care about doing something or understanding something harder than most people want to attempt.

      Hard is achieving something, and fun. A challenge. I live for challenge. Its why I wake up, and why I come here and not spend my day making mentos fountains and saying Im a maker

  20. TBH, I’ve always seen Make magazine at Borders or B&N near the electronics, computer, and hobbyist magazines, but (I’m bracing myself for what I’m about to say) I never really looked at the magazine until after I came across Make’s videos with Bre Pettis as the host (I think he used to interview other makers and showcased their work, possibly at Maker Faires (I cant find the videos), but he also had his own projects). I’d still look at projects on Make’s website if I found, via a google search, something that could be useful for a project I was working on; but I couldn’t justify hoarding thick booklets in my closet for years or filing torn-out pages for things that may one day be useful (that’s what I use browser bookmarks for).

    So… just how solvent is Hackaday?

    Please tell me HaD would at least post a torrent file to download every post ever posted :(

  21. Maybe they spent all their money on mailing me subscription renewal requests every other week? (At least it seemed that way.)

    I still hope they get themselves sorted out because despite the changing content over the years, I still enjoy reading through new issues and seeing what people come up with.

    I was way more of a software guy before Make. Make and then this site really exposed me to the possibilities of hacking in the physical world.

    Thanks Make, I hope you survive.

    1. Ironically I went to San Mateo and got a 6-month makes subscription almost as a charity to help them out. I never read the damn magazine in the last few years because it became so much fluff.

      I figured what the hell maybe there will be something interesting.

      Now I got 1- and probably no more will even come. It’s almost as if even a charity gesture wasn’t enough to help.

  22. The term ‘maker’ is lame. Not quite as lame as the acronym STEM…..but still very lame. I’m glad to see that the ‘Make’ brand (and along with it the term ‘maker’) is going away. While it did some good it also came with a lot of bad.

    Why is the term lame? because technically if one bakes a cake, one too is a maker. The Maker movement reduced the electronics hobby to ‘using Arduinos’ which it is not. It then proceeded to diversify into woodwork, CNC machines and laser cutting e.t.c. The focus was less on Electronics and more on how to build enclosures.

    Then there’s the over commercialization, marketing, and absurd need to sell overpriced crap just because it has the name ‘maker/make’ on it. The maker movement (as lame as the name is) initially became part of the everyday lexicon, but if one was to use the term ‘maker’ to describe an event without getting permission from Make media they risked getting sued.

    Trademarking the term ‘make’/’maker’ which is so generic and can be used in so many contexts has got to be one of the most predatory things that has ever happened in the world of electronics hobbyists.

    I’m so glad to see Make media cease operations. GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!!!

    1. This! We did Make branded events until it became too expensive. When we did an independently branded fair we got a useless and totally ignored cease and desist letter from Make. The following year Make launched a side event using the name we chose for our indie event. Good ridance greedy fools.

  23. Sad to see they having problems, but if they went for the same path of other publications, that can be somehow explained.

    Could not buy it in my country ( too expensive. Think something like buying a US$ 50 magazine ) .
    But even if I decided do scrounge the money for it, would end up giving up on it in more recent times, after the magazine started including too much advertising and not enough real content. We did that with some magazines we used to buy for more than 20 years.

    As for the content, the people who read this kind of magazine is the ones that would ask others/search/research whatever they didn´t undestand. When magazines start to dumb down the content too much, they also force away a good part of their readership. If management finds it necessary, then a small not in the bottom of the page could direct to the magazine issue where that particular component/technique ( the op-amp in Charles´ example ) was explained.

    One cannot take a website to the bench, write on it with a pen , crayon or whatever thing is around . And most websites do not have the consideration of offering a print-friendly ( a real one, not those things that just hide pictures and bunch all text into a page ) version.

    Coupled with the poing that when buying the magazine in a store, you many times ran into someone interested in it, knew persons with same/different tastes/abilities, knew of people of different trades ( even got jobs/business ) .

    Sad to see things didn´t work out for them, but it seems a trend that happens when people starts giving to much attention to the marketing team and not paying attention at the people that understand their real customers.

  24. A poorly done, dead-tree product that has lingered far too long.

    As one of the original subscribers (and one of the first to leave), I found it .. awful. Geographically, if it wasn’t the Bay Area or Brooklyn, it didn’t exist – the editors apparently couldn’t distinguish among the states otherwise. Also the blatant lack of basic safety considerations for both power tools and power circuits. Extreme sports should be somewhere else, not in the finger-loss/electrocution arena.

    The few times I’ve checked back on some of their videos it had’t improved much, and given the costs of printing, it should probably slide into the land of E-journals. You know, like if they had a blog you could check out neat new ideas on a daily basis….

    Oh, wait.

  25. I was an early subscriber and bought 3 year sub then about 2 years in they ended my subscription saying they were no longer going to be in print then I magically one day saw they were printing again but never honored or heard from them about my original subscription they cut early. I kind of wish they had reached out they were back in print but it seems like they had some issues early on that finally caught up to them.

    1. Yeah I feel like a bit of a rube for doing what I considered charity work by getting a subscription as part of my San Mateo trip.

      I don’t expect another one to come.

      I’d rather they take the money from the subscriptions and bundle it up and donate it to the EFF on behalf of makers to get right to repair laws on the books.

      That would at least be a useful deaththroe.

  26. I don’t know why it’s surprising, or why it even lasted this long. They took a free ride on something people have always done, tried to make it trendy and profitable. What they were using, is the creativity people use to do things that most couldn’t afford to pay others to do for them. Sometimes it’s repairs or improvements on existing products. Building things of similar function, from parts, material, and tools available. Or maybe it’s something, that was just a crazy idea, no one would spend much money to build. Make, just wanted to grow larger, to increase profit, rather than work with what they had on hand. Greed is what destroys most good intentions. Print is pretty much dead, E-Pubs, might as well be free, buying is sort of optional, unless you want it before everyone else. There will always be some appeal to having the printed version for some, just not enough to make a profit, definitely not enough to support glamorous events, and promotions. Nothing on the pages, that can’t be freely found online, without the advertisements and filler. I’m not a subscriber to much of anything, seldom buy a magazine. Usually an article, is just a point of departure, I’ll go online, and look for more, see other options, more details. Seldom follow anything, step-by-step, usually other ways to achieve the same result, or better.

    Making, or hacking, is about doing something, with the resources you have access to, usually as economically as you can. Make didn’t follow that at all, they depended on other people’s work and money, to turn a profit, and spent it as they pleased, hopefully to make more money. It’s really not about making money, it’s about avoiding spending more money than you need to.

    1. Dale was a popularizer, like P.T. Barnum. The huge maker event that he branded had the problem that all things do — evolve or die. The event based on becoming bigger and more spectacular lost much as it instead became more repetitive and less novel. The interest from sponsors dwindled as it became clear that they weren’t really able to monetize their support. Attendance fell off sharply and it became more profitable for vendors to sell products through other platforms. I will miss it, but I haven’t gone to the San Mateo event in two years, so clearly I won’t miss it that much. I do like the smaller, regional events but since Maker Media did little more than license them a name of dubious value, I expect to see the regional events continue, and perhaps even thrive with one less associated expense.

  27. back in time, when Z80 was a powerful CPU you must go to buy magazine & manuals: read code, typing it and you can “RUN” the program.
    You paid good money for the magazine because there was people that do effort to write it. Now, 2019, also the last of the idiots out there can use google to find info, source code and more for quite zero cost because some other (idiot?) do effort to write article that is the copy of the copy of the bad copy of a a original article done by professionist.
    Result? many of articles but at less-than-average/garbage technical quality. To write a good article cost effort (reat: money) but apparently noone wish to pay for that effort. At the end of the circle, the info are more easy to be fount but his quality is lowering. More, the printed paper cannot face the cheapest of info in internet. many magazine are facing reduce of market share, and this is only one more. R.I.P.

  28. Looking at the timeline in this article it is obvious the beginning of the end started around the same time that the leadership and investors decided to move away from their humble beginnings with articles that focused on geeks. When they did that they attracted a geeks and all of the other groups mentioned in the article. When they tried to broaden their audience they started losing them all. Sometimes you need to backup before you can go forward. It’s time to shift into reverse.

  29. While clumsily worded (and as they clarified below) MAKE isn’t a magazine someone with many technical skills under their belt buys a subscription to. MAKE was/is a great magazine for project inspiration, (home)school projects and ways to get younger audiences interested in technical fields. It is not a good magazine for someone who owns a full shop with thousands in machining tools, electronics instruments, and experience in all manner of materials.
    The target demographic (as I see it) is people who have a few of the above but want to expand their repertoire. It makes technical fields accessible for people outside of that field who don’t want to spend months reading spec sheets and technical documents, they just want to get an idea from their head into the real world.

    There was also a darker perception in some circles that MAKE was just out to cash in on a hot trend. You don’t need to withstand ridicule in your basement for your 1000sqf model train set or HAM shack but many of the people who did resented (no commentary on the validity of their perception) the way MAKE conducted itself in it’s heyday. Lots of people who saw things the corporate side did that seemed anathema to their vision of makers/hackers/tinkerers. Such as protecting their brand in a few poorly handled situations.

    I agree more people in a community generally benefits the community, but lots of people saw MAKE as an exploitative force (again, no commentary on the validity), not as a way to gain exposure and recognition for their work.

  30. “Dead Tree Media doesn’t last forever.” – User Name: Bobba Fett

    So true. In this age, by the time the story hits the printing presses, its already been rendered out of date or even irrelevant by internet media. Another way they shot themselves in the foot is that everything they produced was so expensive (MakerShed). Makers aren’t rich. Its partly why we make instead of buy. Not only that, but they were [i] selling [/i] how to guides that contained information anyone with basic Google-fu could find in a half hour or less.

    Another thing I just thought of is that much of their original target audience (middle school age and up) is now graduated from college and have kids of their own who are experiencing life through a 5 inch cell phone screen. Have you ever seen the video on YouTube where a couple of millennial try to figure out a rotary phone? Yeah, printed media is the same to them.

    Face it people, we live in an age where printed books and magazines are “old school” things that grandpa reads!

    1. Bullshit

      Turn off electricity and your silly tablet/Ipod is so much toxic trash and if people can’t figure out a rotary phone then they are brain damaged and should be institutionalized.

      The fact is electronics hasn’t changed very much since the days of the Z-80 and 6502. It’s just that cpu speeds have increased and they can stuff more useless perihpherals on MCU’s as well as the proliferation of SMT and 3.3 voltages.

      The very fact that industry is still using Z-80’s and 6502’s along with 8051’s says it all.

      So no things don’t change that fast. Secondly Make’s audience was not professionals but hobbyists and noobs who have no need for cutting edge products.

      1. There are few 6502 kits you can actually buy.
        No one is explaining it for the younger generation very well.

        People learned BASIC in the computer in the 80s. BASIC is a boot loader that makes things simple. Fewer learned machine code or assembly. Even fewer learned electronics.

        Name someone today writing a new language for the 6502 today.

        It is nostalgia and no one puts a value on it anymore other than nostalgia or people use it as their little niche but that us about it.

        Only 2% of the population codes so no one is reaching the younger generation.

  31. I started out in the 80’s reading Radio Electronics and Byte magazine. Later Circuit Cellar Ink. Those magazines lasted a long time because they kept focused and had writers who worked in the field. Byte went into the bit bucket when it became consumer friendly. Circuit Celler died when it’s owner retired and sold it.

    Make Magazine seemed to be spread all over the place which is bad. There are magazines for wood working and various crafts already. Had it stayed focused on electronic projects and tutorials(which could be printed out) they could have survived. Admittedly it’s not as sexy as holding massive “maker faires” and branding products.

    The very fact they had a legal team sending out “cease and desist” orders when others were holding their own ‘maker faires’ pretty much says it all about the owners – that this was just a trend for them to make money off of.

    1. You missed a big one – Dr Dobb’s. Not only did I subscribe to that for decades, it’s the only magazine that I have kept still on my shelf (all the old Byte magazines have been chucked). Why? It often had articles that were looking at fundemental principles that are just as relevent today…

      There just isn’t anything like it that i could subscribe to now..

  32. I enjoyed to occasionally peek into some issue of that magazine, so I am sad they are on the cliff. I am sure they contributed something precious to the world and they made it over a decade long.
    But if time has come for them to leave, so what? Isn’t that an opportunity for someone else, to come up with something new? …refreshed? …improved? …innovative?
    Isn’t that full in the spirit of “Make’n’Makers”?
    They can be proud to surely have it made into archives of libraries, with flying flags!

    But why would something, which is supposed to happen and have its origin in everybodys kitchen/basement/garage, need a “big-brand” with all legal and commercial boobie-traps along?

    As we did make before Make:*, lets continue do make without Make:*
    I am sad, but won’t miss anyting.

  33. I still have my first store bought issue of Make. It contains the article on the 3V battery based LED attached thing. I also have all of the ones I’d bought or subscribed to, my last subscription was last year at that fair. One Linux magazine came back from the dead, even after first becoming an all digital one. They are still digital. That’s Linux Journal. Probably the first of the many ones out there.

    And Charles I see people at my LUG’s hack night using your books to further their talents. This is still a case of “We do not know what will happen.”

  34. When we started the “Make Room! Make Room!” maker exhibition as part of Loscon, we initially approached the Make people about making it an official Mini Maker Faire. They wanted us to sign some sort of contract which they took a very long time to get to us. When we finally got it, they were asking for contact information on all of the convention’s attendees, all of our maker exhibitors, and they wanted a very large booth of their own for free in our very tiny room.
    So we declined to have a “Make”-branded event.

    Later, we went up to their “Make a Maker Faire” event before Maker Faire in San Mateo, a meeting of folks who wanted to put on their own faires. At a certain point, they called anybody who was running a maker event to the stage, so I went up with the others. They hissed at me and told me to get off the stage… evidently their event was not so much about the Maker movement, but only about people who were making them money.

    After our 2nd year event (IIRC) we got contacted by them. Evidently some bright bulb at Loscon had credited our event on a deeply buried page as “makers fair” instead of our actual name “Make Room! Make Room!” (from Harry Harrison). Despite the innocuousness of this mistake on page about an event that had already passed, we got threatening e-mails from them about their trademark. I passed it along, and then got more angry e-mails when our people didn’t change it fast enough. Folks, we don’t make money on this, and everybody (including the person updating the website) is a volunteer. They expected us to jump just because they were uptight over nothing.

    So, needless to say, having dealt with the Make entity, I’m a bit salty about them.

    I think they did a good job of building awareness and bringing back something of what was lost after the 80’s when repair stopped being a thing, and radio and electronics as hobbies declined in popularity. I enjoyed their magazine when it first came out in the quarterly square bound format, and even did subscribe for a time. But eventually, it seemed like most of the projects were just teased in the magazine, and you had to go to the website for the actual content, which made me wonder why I was paying for a paper magazine.
    I think that, as many others have done, they tried to reach a bit too far into the shiny “mass-market” and lost their appeal to those wanting a more depth, less kiddy-oriented, less “safe” content. They started to feel corporate, treating their content as a sales pitch. It felt like they were putting themselves above their audience instead of representing it.

    In 2013, they split Maker Media off from their parent O’Reilly publishing, and took a bunch of VC money. I suspect this was either a way to protect O’Reilly from a money loser, or else a cynical effort to get some sweet VC cash that they couldn’t do as part of a larger company. Maybe both.
    Perhaps the pressure of having to appease investors caused the dilution of vision that lead to their demise. Or maybe their business model never really worked in the first place and it just took this long for it to play out?

    I think there is still a place for content for amateur engineers, electronic hobbyists, fabrication n00bs and DIY geeks, even in print. It is sad that they sort of tried to be that and failed, but perhaps something better can rise from the ashes now that they aren’t there to tell us what being a “MAKER” is?

    Perhaps this is Hack A Day’s time? If you can stay geeky and not turn into a TED talk or a sales pitch, maybe you could be the next standard bearer for the maker / hacker / fabricator culture?

    But do we even need one…

  35. Subscription based magazines and websites are a dying business model. I used to subscribe to magazines because I trusted that they would be a consistent source of information presented in a format I enjoyed, Change the format and I would stop the subscription when it ran out.
    These days there seems to be little consistency in journalism, everybody is trying to get the most clicks with shocking headlines and minimal actual content. Smaller Independent presenters are starting to find ways to publish and survive by doing their main focused “thing” well.
    I now support the “People” who inform/entertain/inspire me by looking at my bookmark bar and history after all my bills are paid and I buy some swag or hit the contribute button, several of the sites I follow (some that have been here on HAD) are now starting to offer printed annuals of their site reformatted to look good in a coffee-table book style which lets me dog ear a favorite article but looks so much better then a stack of magazines.

  36. I went to the Bay Area Maker Fair several times between 2012 and 2016. It was a lot of fun the first time, but the following three the content was all so similar to the first that it felt redundant, and I stopped going after that. I don’t know if that was true for the public at large, but anecdotally it was true for my friends. It was pretty much the same displays from local hobbyist clubs, the same crafts goods vendors with the same stuff as last year, and the latest 3d printer models for sale…

  37. One question, if Make is shutting down, what would you recommend someone read? Do people have any recommendations? Magazine or website, please let me know.

    I like
    A) Hackaday
    B) Instructables
    C) Ben Krasnow’s aplied science channel
    D) AVE’s channel

    Any more suggestions to find a wide array of interesting tutorials and articles?

    1. Youtube.
      Github
      Sparkfun
      DIY websites
      Books that can be located on Amazon (You don’t have to get the book there).
      The library.

      And you can always stop being a follower and make something yourself! That way, you don’t waste your time on things you don’t have, things that are not useful and do focus on making something for yourself.

      It is really annoying to see people make things out of my price range or something too big for me to keep.

    2. If you had let’s say a year’s worth of Make magazines and they were worth building, why is everyone complaining instead of being busy building?

      If the projects were worth building then why aren’t people busy building them?
      If the projects were not worth building then why are people complaining?
      If the projects were not worth building then no one is spending money at the events making it profitable?

      How many projects has everyone built making it worth having?

      Its kind of like this. If you buy an LP record and there is only one or two songs you like, you aren’t getting your money’s worth. If you aren’t building the project, you aren’t necessarily getting your money’s worth.

      If someone can answer these questions then maybe we will have an answer.

  38. Unfortunately, it seems makerspaces closing is becoming the new thing.
    The Geek Group closed its doors March 31, 2019.
    GR Makers closed its doors August of 2018.
    Even locally, a group of people wanted to build a children’s science museum; I attended a public meeting with the board present, and it went well… sent them several e-mails packed with ideas and such… never heard anything back, and nobody has done anything with the building. That was in early March this year.

    Part of the problem is, it’s a niche market. Sure, someone might have an occasional use for an electronics lab where they can solder stuff for their Arduino, but beyond that occasional use, or the occasional customer for the computer lab or CNC shop, there’s not a lot of regular Joe draw.
    The Geek Group upped the ante with the High Voltage lab (who doesn’t like explosions and lightning) and the occasional crazy demos and experimental work, but when I was out there for two years, during the average week, we maybe had 30-40 people through the doors (over the course of five days, not counting volunteers)… easily that many for the free Saturday tour… and that was about it.
    GR Makers was created by a group of people who used to hang out at The Geek Group.

    It seems to me that… unless the makerspace has a wide-enough appeal AND has more than a one-use type feel, it’s not going to make it. Add to that, the stuff makerspaces would solely be the owners of (3D printers, laser cutters, board mills, stuff like that) is common place enough that you can just buy or build one for the cost of membership at a makerspace.

    1. I feel your pain.

      All I can say is my experiences with hackerspaces in my major city have all been positive. I don’t want to plug for my cities Makerspace because I don’t feel it’s right here,
      But I will say this:

      Making things isnt a maket.

      There is a market for making things, but there will always, always, ALWAYS be people who want to make stuff, and don’t have or can’t afford the tools to do so.

      I wholeheartedly believe that every town should have a community garage and every larger town should have a hackerspace or whatever you want to call it.

      There will always be a place 4 people who want to make things, and gathering over beer and powertools and sewing machines should be something that will never truly die.

      People need to make things, at all levels, outside their daily grind. It drives so many. Its fundamental to people all over the world, every culture, to craft, to make.

      To hell with calling it a national movement name like Nation of Makers. Enough with the pompus pomp and circumstance. If you know the soul of making, its that lone guy or girl in their garage, saying hold my beer, watch this. Which is all of us.

      Find a community space, set up a non profit, and build a hackerspace. A community garage. Whatever you wanna call it. Make sure there’s beer- that gets people in the door and ideas going (kick out alcoholics though!)

      Making isn’t O’Reilly, or Dale. Its all of us- and the will to teach others how to use their hands. Be it.

      1. I do agree.
        In my opinion, it would be great if there was a makerspace of some size in at least each state… maybe a couple or something depending on state size or something.
        And, it doesn’t have to be huge, doesn’t have to have world-class engineers running each area of it… it just has to be accessible to everyone, has to have what’s needed/wanted in the area its in, and be affordable to the people in its area (if there isn’t a big draw for a half-million dollar laser lab, then there isn’t really a reason to have a laser lab)… and a huuuuuge thing is having the right people running it; it’s a good thing to have a good frontman for the place (the person in the videos), but aside from being the frontman you need a good overall manager to run things (the guy who makes the decisions about what gets done).

        I wholeheartedly agree that all a makerspace truly has to be is a place (be it a garage, basement, livingroom, shed… heck, even a patio or a whole cheap office building) where geeks/nerds/seamstresses/whatevers can get together and do their thing. There’s no real rule what it HAS to be or what we HAVE to do there. It could be an occasional embroidery club that gets together in your wife’s sewing room or a bunch of guys rolling their own Tesla coils using drills and bench vises or it might be we just fix a few of the neighborhood’s computers in an afternoon.

        That was what I was hoping the children’s science museum would do… be the museum for kids most of the time, but also have stuff for makers (electronics lab, 3D printers?, A/V lab?, HV lab?, stuff like that). I was thinking a membership system so the electronics guys could get a pass to get into the building (24-hour staff?) to use things… that sort of thing (what The Geek Group was aiming for).

        You’re right in that it doesn’t have to be a national-level thing. It could be a city thing, county thing, state thing, regional thing, whatever… but there should be a hacker/makerspace kind of thing that can be accessed by locals for whatever… as long as there is enough people who would want it. If there isn’t any draw for a laser lab, then there really isn’t much reason to have a laser lab.
        And… of course… like you said, it doesn’t HAVE to involve beer… but, if everyone kicks a couple bucks in for a night at Joe’s garage to make a blinky thing and learn how to solder… maybe it’d work (kind of a back to the roots of makerspaces kind of thing).

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