Over the last ten years, technologists, pundits, and even President Obama have proposed that something called the "Maker movement" is transforming global manufacturing. But what exactly is this movement? Where did it come from? And what kind of world do its leaders want us to make? This paper examines a half dozen of the movement's foundational texts in order to surface their visions of a good society. It then traces the roots of those visions back to MIT and the San Francisco Bay Area tech world, and through them, to deep streams of early American thought. In light of this history, the paper argues that the Maker movement is not simply a digital-technology-driven, bottom-up call for technological empowerment as its promoters claim. Rather, it represents a powerful, concerted effort by communities of engineers to knit their own professional imaginaries into the fabric of American myth. As such, the paper concludes, it also represents an especially useful site at which to study the ways in which digital technologies have become vehicles for conserving and exporting American culture.


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pp. S160-S182
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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