Scene from “Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware” via Wired, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGJ5cZnoodY

A Global Maker Movement: Made in the USA, and Made in China

Made in the USA

What is the maker movement? It’s a technology-focused Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement which emphasizes “learning-through-doing.” Makers create and prototype solutions to solve problems, using a variety of technologies that are becoming more readily available to the average consumer, such as computer programming, and 3D printing, and the experience of making is often a shared learning experience, through peer-to-peer interactions at community makerspaces or through show and tell events called maker faires. To learn more about the US maker movement, watch this TED talk by Dale Dougherty, the founder and CEO of Maker Media:

My all-time favorite project mentioned in this talk is the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir (2:42)!

Image from TED Talk by Dale Dougherty https://www.ted.com/talks/dale_dougherty_we_are_makers?language=en

Made in China

How is the maker movement in China different from the US? Watch this absolutely fascinating documentary about Shenzhen China, the Silicon Valley of China from Wired magazine.

What are some of the major differences between the innovation of Silicon Valley vs. China?

  • Proprietary vs. Open source
  • Patent lawsuits vs. Rapid product innovation to differentiate from the copycats
  • Small elite groups vs. distributed networks of collaboration
  • 1 year for product development vs. 3 months for product development

And what are the differences in the maker mindset?
“In the west, there is a binary distinction between makers and startups; makers do this for fun; startups do this for profit. In China makers have the mindset of maker and startup; makers and startups are a continuum.”

“It’s like shucking corn” -Bunnie Huang

Scene from “Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware” via Wired, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGJ5cZnoodY

This is one of the most powerful images from the documentary. Bunnie Huang, narrator and American Hacker, describes this scene from China which shows an individual stripping out parts from discarded mobile phones (i.e. shucking the corn) so that the motherboards and chips can be recycled back to the Chinese market. This leads me to ask the question:

What might be the impact of the Made in China approach to innovations for health?

Here’s to the continued exploration of healthcare, design, and innovation! I would love to hear your thoughts via comments or Twitter!

I tweet and blog about design, healthcare, and innovation as “Doctor as Designer”. Please sign up for my Tinyletter!