Makerspaces have the makings of a revolution

Makespace makerspace in Malaysia

It promises to be the most exciting technological revolution since the early days of the web (1990s), when everything still felt possible (long before the days of cat pictures, angry tweets and social media ninjas). It’s the makerspace, also known as a hackspace, and If I were a betting man (I’m not), I would put money on this new wave of experimentation producing another Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, perhaps a Generation-Z social entrepreneur putting people before profits.

Across the world, like-minded people are toying with new models, machines and tools in community spaces, resulting in the birth of exciting new solutions to problems. I visited such a space in Kuala Lumpur, located within a shopping mall, not too far from a supermarket and other symbols of the 20th century.

Makespace is promoted as a free co-working space for makers and maker wannabes. While windowless, with malfunctioning air conditioning, it was easy to visualise its potential: it was big (you could imagine that, in the past, this might have been a bar or club buried within a mall), with sufficient capacity to accommodate different interests. On the day of my visit, there were young people rehearsing a play and a few laptops were open, while other groups were busy doing other things (not sure what exactly). There was also free Wi-Fi and soon (I heard) there will be coffee.

As I see it, makerspaces are the beginnings of a movement that, combined with the internet, can finally deliver us from the tyranny of the 9-5. Also, with so much discord around at the moment, perhaps we’re all better off tinkering in the shed than loudly protesting on the streets (which doesn’t bring about meaningful change, since the 1% is here to stay and they’re very happy with their lot, thank you very much). We might discover smarter and fairer ways of doing things, and enjoy ourselves and each other’s company in the process. It could be a rallying cry of the 2020s: Makespace, not war.

Popular 2015-16 “gap year” destinations revealed

Iconic backpacker destination Thailand has slipped down the rankings among “gap year” countries popular with young British travellers, according to UK travel industry association ABTA, with English-speaking Australia, NZ and the US occupying the top three spots this year. Vietnam has risen from eighth to fifth in popularity. “Gap year” students are also reportedly looking for work experience and volunteering opportunities. Here’s the new top 10:

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. USA
  4. Peru
  5. Vietnam
  6. Thailand
  7. Canada
  8. Brazil
  9. Argentina
  10. India

The “gap year” is a major undertaking not to be taken lightly, so here are different points of view dredged from Twitter:

5 articles on searching for happiness

As we enter sleepy mid-August and once more contemplate the meaning of well, everything, from the beach, the all-important topic of “happiness” has re-emerged. Here’s a selection of the best happiness pieces published in recent weeks:

Use bad exam results as an opportunity to spring forward in life

Students sitting exams

Students in Britain will today be anticipating the results of their A Level exams with trepidation. Land top marks and they’re off to the uni of their dreams. A successful career and a property in Surrey await.

Get low grades and, bam, it’s the call centre.

Or perhaps not.

My A Level results were abysmal – two ‘E’s, a ‘C’ and a ‘D’.  My reaction was one of dismay and disbelief. But I deserved to get those terrible letters. I was a slacker, and even my best effort, Geography coursework, was risible (ironically it was about litter).

I was incredibly fortunate to get into university. Offered a place at the University of Hull, I was determined to work harder to thank whichever divine being got me there. I finished four years later with a more respectable result, and the ride had been fun too (while bumpy).

In the years in the “real world” since, I have failed and failed again. I have clambered back up on each occasion, often with immense difficulty. 2013 left me reeling, bruised, bloodied and battered in ways unprecedented. Head spinning, I sought to bounce back once more, and more or less succeeded. I will fail again, and will continue to fail until death, which of course is failure in itself.

Your school exam results will be the first of many big tests in life. Embrace whichever outcome comes your way.

Besides, university education is one of several options, and almost certainly the most expensive. You can start a business, join the workforce “early”, or get overseas experience – all of which are in all probability better career and life paths.

Eat tarantula in Cambodia

Fried tarantula, Romdeng restaurant in Cambodia
  • Experience: Eat fried tarantula in Cambodia
  • Where: Romdeng restaurant, Phnom Penh
  • Why:  Romdeng is a beautiful restaurant working to build the futures of former street children and marginalised young people in Phnom Penh. It has a gift shop, free WiFi and paintings by children. It also has fried spider (and stir-fried tree ants, if you’re still hungry)

Fried tarantula, Romdeng restaurant in Cambodia