In Mexico we have a name for the quick fix that will always be the first attempt to repair that old machine, regardless of our lack of knowledge or expertise. “El Jale Chicano” is an institution among people that may not have had any engineering studies or proper training, but are not shy about showcasing their creativity and genius to save themselves a few Pesos to keep operating that old car. If you have been to Mexico City you probably know what I’m talking about.
This is one of the reasons why I think Mexico is poised to be one of the leaders of the growing Maker Movement. Mexicans have the DIY attitude in their blood. They may not have access to all the latest gadgets and techniques, but I think the culture of figuring things out without any institutional support is strong and over time that will prove to be more important.
Whatever the “Steampunk” subculture fantasizes about the Victorian-based future that never was, has nothing on the intricate harsh reality of Mexico’ streets that seem to have inspired scenes from a cyberpunk underworld. Entire shanty-towns wired with the efficiency of the most sophisticated global telecom, except for that institutional obsession with safety.
Yet, I don’t think the Mexican youth is aware of this super-power they all have. This is why every time I go to the big metropolis I try to bring this simple message along: the world is catching up with your ways and soon “El Jale Chicano” will be our religion. This time I wasn’t the only one saying it. Chris Anderson from DIY Robotics was there to promote his latest book and had similar encouragement for a group of young students that were surprised such a celebrity was looking at them for inspiration.
This is the content of a 2-hour presentation I did for engineering students of one of the universities. My pep-talk if you will: