Break New Ground

Building with your Bare Hands

Jim Grisanzio
Sr. Manager

A Conversation with Two Makers who have a Disposition to Build and to Share

I met Dale Daugherty in late 2004 at a dinner in Silicon Valley with some mutual friends and developers. At the time I worked at Sun Microsystems, which was in the process of open sourcing much of its software portfolio. Dale worked at O'Reilly Media, the publishing and conference company at the heart of the global open source community. We gathered to discuss collaborating on programs to build open source communities around some projects I was working on at Sun.

At one point in the conversation Dale leaned over and whispered to me that he was starting a new project. He said was creating a new magazine. It would be called Make. It would be online, sure, but the main product would be print. And it would cover how people around the world build things — real things — not just software but things you can hold in your hand. And it would be beautiful. He was really excited about it.

Now, as I recall, way back in 2004 there were trends in the magazine business to leave print and instead focus online. But Dale saw a real need for something different. And he was right. Make Magazine, which was launched a few months later, was a massive success. The whole project grew over time to support large Maker Faire conferences with a passionate, worldwide community of makers that continues to grow today. It would become normal in tech circles to see many tens of thousands of people attending Maker Faire events around the world.

Most software developers know of Make Magazine, and many of them have attended and even participated in Maker Faire events. That's why I invited Dale to have a conversation on the Oracle Groundbreakers Podcast because what he does is related to what we do in Oracle Developer Relations. Our team also makes things. And our lead maker these days is Chris Bensen. Before the pandemic our team would go to conferences, such as Oracle Code One. We ran a large Developers Lounge filled with demos of Oracle products and also some experimental (or even just fun) projects to demonstrate what could be possible. This activity is a core part of the software community building process — providing interesting spaces in which developers can gather and collaborate.

Since both Dale and Chris have a lot to say about their respective fields, I ended up with too much content for a single program so I split things up into two separate conversations. In the first episode, I talk with Chris about his experiences at Oracle building demos and entire experiences for developers at our conferences. In the second episode, I asked Chris to join me and Dale for an extensive dive into the global phenomenon of makers.

We get into some history, some specific innovations from the maker community, the effect the pandemic has had on builders around the world, and some new projects that both Dale and Chris are working on. I loved both conversations. Hope you will too. Both guys are passionate about their art — building things that matter with their bare hands and then sharing what they've built with the world.

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