I attended the Maker Faire in San Mateo last weekend. "Jaw dropping" is a good description. I already knew most of what was there, but really seeing it and the enthusiasm of the makers was stunning.
While I was there I asked many different makers what they thought the barrier to entry was for new makers, both young or old. There were a lot of interesting responses and pointers to additional information I haven't finished going through yet. However, a couple of main themes popped up:
Help by your peers
And by this, folks meant your skill level peers, not "robot makers" or "MakerBot CupCake users." A subtle difference from what we're used to thinking about. We're used to getting help on mailing lists and forums from everyone of every skill level. However, the folks that answer questions are usually the experts and that often makes a new person hesitate to ask a question. A few folks suggested that there should be help for beginners by beginners. Any instructions for novices should also be written by novices. They know what's confusing for them whereas the experts have forgotten that.
Curation is key
Be it in the form of an index to resources out on the net or vetted instructions that are self contained, everyone that brought these up wanted the information to be managed. The usual examples of link rot came up. Also grouping the information into age or skill level appropriate categories. A nice idea was to make any instructions fully hypertext so that novices that learn in different ways and have different backgrounds can fill in their knowledge gaps as needed.
Neither of these themes is too surprising, but they are often overlooked. I'm a novice and even I dismissed these as explicit starting points. However, looking back at the ideas I've had, these are buried in there, just not spelled out. Time to head to the drawing board to make sure I don't miss these again.