The 2015 Makers conference is currently on in Beijing over the weekend. The conference is a gathering for prominent leaders and innovators from across the country. The conference focuses on how makers can change the industrial structure and work as innovators in the “Internet plus” context.
Maker is a new word for many in China. It entered the public consciousness after Premier Li Keqiang visited a machine workshop in the southern city of Shenzhen in January.
Some people call them inventors, some say they are entrepreneurs. But Makers see themselves differently.
“They aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They want to use technology to create things to change the world,” said Pan Hao, founder of Shenzhen Chaihuo Makerspace.
“A Maker is not a job. It’s a group of people with the same interest,” said Zhang Hao, a Maker.
The maker culture is rooted in the United States, where the idea of creating new technology has long been encouraged.
But in China, this was more of a sub-culture that stayed out of sight, like underground water. With more and more maker spaces taking root across China, it has grown into a well.
For some, being a maker is a full-time job, while others are weekend warriors. The common point is that they all enjoy the process of creating things.
But for those makers who want to turn their ideas into real products, it’s a long journey, fraught with many failures. Some compare it to the movie Big Hero 6.
“Every time I come up with a new solution I rewrite the code. When I test it, it fails again. Then I just keep trying. A hundred times is too common for me,” Zhanghao said.
Guo Lie is the founder of MYOTee, or Lianmeng in Chinese. The app lets people design their cartoon images that can be used for instant messaging or on social networks. It once took the country by storm and soared to the top of the app stores in China.
“Makers do take a lot of risks, since 80 to 90 percent of the ideas end up as nothing. We failed many times before we developed MYOTee. For me, even if I failed, I still wanted to be a maker,” said Guo.
And as Guo Lie said, for makers, success does not come with achievement, but with the effort to realise dreams.