iFixit at NY’s World Maker Faire

“I’ve heard of these!”

There’s something hilarious about watching an eight-year-old encounter a typewriter for the first time. I explained, “It’s like Microsoft Word, but without the screen.”

“How do you backspace?”

iFixit team members tagged along with the Fixers Collective at the 2013 World Maker Faire in New York, and—thanks to the antics of curious onlookers—the amusement was endless.

Fixers Collective does a typewriter repair at New York Maker Faire

The Fixers Collective showed off an old (and functioning!) typewriter at a festival dedicated to discovering something new. But it proved a point: the things we buy can and—if we design them right—should work for a long, long time.

Our Maker Faire host, the Fixers Collective, is a repair meetup in Brooklyn. People from all over the area bring their broken things and/or repair knowledge to the monthly gathering. And, everyone helps each other make the repair. It’s a beautiful thing.

It was only appropriate to treat our booth at the faire as one such meetup. We disassembled electronics and demonstrated repair on a handful of broken devices. Fixing expert Vincent even replaced a handful of capacitors in a busted Apple Time Capsule. Not surprisingly, we had a few passersby ask for repair pointers after admitting they have the exact same model, broken, in a closet somewhere.

Repair manifesto at Maker Faire

I confess that, sometimes, I don’t have much hope for the future: it’s easy see some version of our future in WALL-E—devoid of life, strangled by trash. But at the World Maker Faire there’s nothing but bright-eyed optimism for the future. And wow, the optimism is contagious.

Booth at Maker Faire

Everywhere around me, people were doing amazing things: Elementary school kids from St. Clare’s School on Staten Island were building prototype service robots for the elderly. The robotic sailing team from Olin College was demonstrating their “sailbot” and talking about sustainable transportation and robotic oil cleanup. Joe from Safecast stopped by the Fixers Collective booth to show off his open source Geiger counter kit and tell me all about the global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements.

The World Maker Faire truly is an inspiration. The community of makers, hackers, and fixers are building open-source, DIY solutions for a vast array of human and human-caused problems. And that’s a wonderful thing to be a part of.

Long live the future!