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It's official. I'm greatly saddened that I won't be able to help at this year's US Maker Faires after they applied for and accepted a grant from DARPA.

I look forward to working and playing at Maker Faire again, after they are no longer associated with DARPA.
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Make, Hack, Share's profile photoMack Hooper's profile photoChristoph Maier's profile photoNama Henderson's profile photo
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DARPA exists to further its goals, which are not aligned with mine. I am all for what MAKE and Maker Faire want to do with the DARPA money. It saddens me greatly, and I have struggled with this since hearing about their acceptance of the grant, but I am not able to help, knowing that it is helping furtherl the goals of DARPA.
 
Happy to hear someone else vocalize the sentiment, Mitch. I too have mixed feelings about MAKE's partnership w/ DARPA, and with DARPA in general. Although they are creating some of the most amazing and impressive technology today, they aren't sharing it, talking about it, or even being direct about why they are doing it. In some ways, DARPA is simultaneously representative of the best of our society and the worst. For example, check out this recent TED Talk, and watch as the presenter squirms out of any sort of good answer to the questions posed: http://www.ted.com/talks/regina_dugan_from_mach_20_glider_to_humming_bird_drone.html
 
You won't help Maker Faires, but, you're happy to use the internet?
 
My main reason for making my decision public is to encourage public discussion on this important topic. I'm glad it's working. We really need to consciously make choices on what we do for money. In my mind, it is not about the money. My hope is that we do what we do because we are exploring and doing what we love (whatever that means to you!).

To further this public discourse, I am organizing a panel on the topic of DARPA funding for hackers and hackerspaces, at the upcoming HOPE #9 conference in NYC, July 13-15. I would love to have Mudge on the panel, since he is a proponent of DARPA funding for hackerspaces. If anyone knows Mudge, please ask him if he would be willing to make use of this forum to air his views.
http://www.hopenumbernine.net/
 
Arpa begat ARPANet begat NSFNet begat Internet begat the Intertubes and cat videos, no? Where do you draw a bright line?
 
How much defense money was responsible for the research for these wonderful little computers we are on today.
Defense is evil, their goal is death, or enough of a threat of death to keep the other guy from pulling the trigger.

But it also pays for much basic research that eventually makes it into the consumers hands. Most of the private companies that used to have research divisions are gone.
 
Mitch,

Yes, DARPA wants to see more scientists and engineers in our society, but that's the extent of the military aspect of this project.

I think it's great that DARPA wants to fund science education. I'd much rather have them doing that than funding weapons research.

Your notion that this is a secret recruiting scheme for weapons research is ... well, indication of a lack of critical thinking. By your reasoning, you should also stop any association with any science or technology university, because (gasp), they too receive DARPA funding (or other military funding) for some of their research.

I hope you're also stopping using GPS-enabled maps and directions - or for that matter, the Internet. These too were funded by the military, as were many of the other innovations that you doubtless use every day. The military is also the largest funder of breast cancer research - do you think they have nefarious purposes in mind for this as well?

I'm sorry to see you go from Maker Faire and your association with Make, but I'm even more disappointed to see someone like you who is willing to mischaracterize the program (which has absolutely NO military overtones) either out of ignorance or wilful mischief.
 
Tim,

I sincerely have no intent of willful mischief. I have nothing but respect for MAKE and Maker Faire. Both have helped me and countless others a great deal, and both will continue to do so.

I do not see Maker Faire as a secret recruiting scheme. The motivations of folks at DARPA are what is in question for me.

I went to a university where all labs, but one, were funded by DARPA or other military funding. I chose to work in that exceptional lab.

I have been struggling with my decision about what to do regardin help with Maker Faire for months. It has not come easy. I love Maker Faire and want to help.

I spoke with Dale at length, trying to come up with a way where I could help without being associated with DARPA funding. Collectively, we couldn't come up with a way.

I am very sad that I can't help now. I look forward to collaborating again in the future.

Best,
Mitch.
 
I am also glad that this has spurred public discussion that can help people make their own choices about funding sources, and their alignment with one's values.
 
Mitch, I am proud to see you stand by your principles. I may not entirely agree with the decision, but it's not my decision to make. Getting this information out for public discourse is a true public service.
 
+Tim O'Reilly : +mitch altman appears to do a mostly symbolic act. When it comes to the not-so-clean details of sustaining a viable business, he ends up compromising his own principles (and ends up touring China with a bunch of clowns, see https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/File:NB_China_Trip_bunny_suits.jpg).
The important question here is: Whom do you empower by allowing to take credit for your work, by accepting what is essentially taxpayers' money through their administration? DARPA stands for leadership based on military command and control, and, very importantly, classified information, and Mitch isn't the only one who thinks that these principles are complete anathema to what the maker movement stands for.
Personally, I see the Maker movement (which +mitch altman makes known and +Tim O'Reilly makes happen) as our best hope to get good stuff done while cutting a management out of the loop whose control over the stuff I could get done invalidates any result. Tim, IMHO you're unnecessarily compromising your good work.
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