Three phenomena are peaking at the same time and presenting an opportunity for society. Ten thousand baby boomers are retiring a day from a population of over 70 million in the United States. As a baby boomer myself, I always thought of retirees as old, ready to kick back and sit in a rocking chair. No more. With advancements in health care and technology, many retirees look forward to the next journey in life. Unfortunately, they often have no idea how to navigate to the starting gate.
Advancements in technology and dramatic improvements in logistics have created opportunities for "makers." Wikipedia has a long and complicated definition of a maker that you can read about here: Wikipedia on Maker Culture, but I prefer this definition from a Huffington Post Article published in July 2013:
"Welcome to the Maker Movement, an evolution of millions of people who are taking big risks to start their own small businesses dedicated to creating and selling self-made products. In a world of mass-produced products, modern technology has made it easier than ever for a single individual to create and distribute items that are customizable and unique without having middlemen like manufacturers. This growing shift will continue to affect the economy and will likely have big implications for large retailers. It is a special time in history that will have a transformative impact on our future." (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brit-morin/what-is-the-maker-movemen_b_3201977.html)
Technology, desktop 3d printers, laser cutters, low-cost woodworking tools, single board computers that sell for less than $25 and access to tutorials on the web and on YouTube are some of the fuels behind the maker movement. However, I believe improvements in logistics are driving additional acceleration of the maker movement. Not so long ago, if you needed a special electronic part, a drive belt for a machine, blocks of specialized wood to turn on a lathe, or thousands of other items you had to be part of a business that could purchase these items in bulk. Now with a quick web search I can order most raw materials I need to "make" something from scratch, to invent something, to create. If I cannot order it on the web, I can "print" a prototype on a 3d printer or machine the part with a desktop CNC machine. Just as cloud computing has lowered the barriers to starting a software business, Amazon, Etsy, and others in conjunction with low-cost desktop machines have reduced the barriers to making products from scratch by providing easy access to parts and materials.
The third innovation that is changing our lives and providing opportunities is e-commerce. If you can make it, you can sell it on the web, from your a website, or with the help of Amazon, Esty or new companies every day. You don't need a big business and a warehouse to get started because you can outsource all aspects of selling a product to others. In some ways the maker community is related to the "gig" economy where self employed people provide services. In the maker economy self employed people provide products.
Now let's think about the 70 million baby boomers. Many of them are lost when they retire. Unsure what they will do next. I propose they become "makers." Making things for themselves, for their friends and family or sale. Making as much or as little as they would like. Working and playing as a maker 5 hours a week or 70, it is their call.
Why don't you hear about retirees and specifically boomers becoming "makers." Because they don't know where to start.
In this article on my new blog https://drvax.com, I further expand on the concept of boomers as makers and link to a new YouTube channel called DrVax where I publish videos that help boomers retool and reboot as makers.
Take a look at https://drvax.com/dont-retire-retool-as-a-maker/