Makers and Breakers

Tue Jun 21 2022

Progress is always desirable, but because reality is unpredictable, it's not always possible. However, if progress is properly directed and facilitated, it can create a more equitable world that is well worth the energy. Although advancing the current state of affairs may not solve our immediate problems, it can create a more equitable world where opportunities and resources are available to all. To reach this better world, we need to take the correct steps in the present. With a plethora of tools at our disposal to build, create, express and bring ideas to others’ awareness, now is one of the greatest times to be a maker. However, even though these tools, ideas and products are constantly progressing in functionality and versatility, they aren’t always perfect. This is why people with taste and a critical eye, or breakers, are imperative to society. A healthy collaboration between the makers and breakers of this world can give rise to a constructive feedback loop, allowing for the best solutions that human minds can create to develop incrementally with all dimensions being thoroughly looked over.

Makers are all around us. From cooks, filmmakers and writers to programmers and artists, the list is ever-expanding. Makers try to create something to put into the world. Their creations may or may not already exist, but what’s important is the creation process, which helps foster a growth/maker mindset. A maker mindset, especially if developed at an early age, reinforces a can-do attitude. However, there are some downsides to being a maker; makers sometimes have ulterior motives, as when they create imitation products for material gain or build a company with a sketchy business model. It also is not easy to constantly be outputting and having great ideas in a modern world where others are building platforms and products designed for individuals to spend their time and attention on. 

Breakers are those who question and “break” things that already exist. They might have many motivations, from simply enjoying breaking things to trying to understand how something works to trying to find a system’s vulnerabilities or edge cases. While it may sound like a negative label, being a breaker is actually a good thing. Being a breaker requires a mindset that utilizes critical thinking, skepticism and reasoning in order to find faults and weaknesses in what others accept as usual. There are jobs that are associated with a “breaker mindset”, such as food inspector, judge, lawyer, quality assurance engineer, and auditor. Some people in these positions even detect issues that could cause problems on a global scale. Unfortunately, finding loopholes and exposing exploits in products and systems is a powerful skill that can be used in unfavorable ways. For example, unscrupulous breakers can use the security vulnerabilities of entities such as banks or Internet companies to acquire personally identifiable information or commit theft.

There's a balance to be struck between makers and breakers.. Many tools, platforms and communities specifically encourage the creation of new things. Just as there are communities for creating, there are healthy communities for breaking things; for example, bug bounties set up by Internet companies to find vulnerabilities in their products have created communities that promote and connect ethical hackers. Maintaining a balance between makers and breakers who are improving their own ideas and skill-sets is not only important for individual growth, but also growth in the quality of products and infrastructure now and in the future. The constructive feedback loop of making and breaking things to ultimately end up with a polished result only fuels constant progress.