Maker Media founder Dale Dougherty speaks with such an infectious exuberance about creating and building that after speaking to him you want to go home and resurrect that project that's been sitting in your garage or bedroom. From a magazine, to a series of faires and camps for children, Doughterty's Maker Media reach - and enthusiasm - spans the globe and beginning today, it's launching a beta of its new MakerSpace social network.
MakerSpace beta invitations are available for request until May 18. Like the Google model of beta invites, anyone that gets an invitation, can invite a few friends. If you don't get into the beta, the full site will launch out of beta later this year. But, if you're lucky enough to get onboard, you can create a profile, find and bookmark projects you find interesting, and post your own projects. Maker is calling it a place to "show and tell."
This new online component of the Maker empire is also meant to keep the community engaged after Maker Faire events. "There's a lot of cool things going on, but (at Maker Faire) you only saw the end result and didn't know how to replicate that," Dougherty explained. Now those exhibitors can interact with the people they met at an event and share their project's progress and a detailed how-to.
Like all social networks, profiles will be the center of the experience. You can set your identity, interests and follow other members. But more importantly, it'll be where you post your own projects both ongoing and finished. The community can follow along and comment on your posts sharing tips and feedback about each step in the process. It takes at-home tinkering and gives it an online audience. An audience that could eventually decide to meet up in real life without going to a sanctioned Maker event.
Getting individuals to work together, regardless of their discipline is one of the goals of Maker Faire. So don't be surprised if a feature is implemented later down the line that makes those local meet ups easier to put together. For now, you can search for your town or city to find nearby makers.
Whether they meet in real life, or just hang out online, Maker wants to bring people together and this new site is the evolution of that goal. "That's one of the things we got right about Maker Faire. We didn't try to program what we wanted to see. The community came in and said, 'this is what I'm doing, let me share it.' That gave it a real different feel," said Dougherty.