When online meets offline: Digital Social Innovation Fair 2017

It seems to me that fairs are an omnipresent component of the MAKE-IT project. Obviously, Maker Faires are one of the most important opportunities for makers worldwide to showcase their project to a wide community and meet fellow makers and potential investors and consumers in an offline environment. Yet, MAKE-IT through its transdisciplinary approach is not only part of the Maker movement, but, as a CAPS project, MAKE-IT has one foot in the world of social innovation as well. Just like Makers, social innovators display their ideas and meet other like-minded individuals at fairs.

One of these fairs is the Digital Social Innovation Fair, which took place on the 1st and 2nd of February in the pre-digital historic buildings of the Protomoteca Hall on Campidoglio in Rome. The MAKE-IT consortium was well represented with Tomas Diez’s keynote giving a comprehensive overview of the Maker movement’s vast spread including the rise of fab cities and the opportunities of the smart citizen project and Jeremy Millard’s keynote which focused on how acknowledging nature as a fifth additional actor to the quadruple helix model can inform the design of social organisations and substantially alter visions of future societies.

The keynotes given on both days of the fair covered a vast array of topics reaching from practical issues of how e.g. open data management can become a tool for municipal public administration to ethical considerations touching upon the prevailing conflict of online power being in the hands of big corporations instead of citizens. In the evening, Janosch Sbeih and I took part in a side event which led us to FabLab Rome located on the outskirts of the city. We explored the FabLab’s two neighbouring facilities of which one was decorated in neat colours to spur creativity, while the other resembled a garage stuffed with drilling and printing machinery. Leonardo Zaccone who founded the FabLab Rome focusses on introducing kids at an early age to the possibilities of digital fabrication. To enhance the outreach of his Fablabs he developed specialized courses for teachers who can then include digital fabrication into their curriculum.

Side event: Leonardo Zaccone presenting his FabLab at Meet the Roman Makers (Photo by Marthe Zirngiebl)

 

On day 2 of the Digital Social Innovation Fair 2017 Janosch Sbeih presented MAKE-IT’s preliminary results during a workshop called Collaborative Making, Art and Creativity. Since many of the other presenters and people attending our workshop are quite active in the Maker movement, we used our time slot to discuss the question of what the Maker movement needs to sustainably tackle societal challenges such as environmental degradation, social inclusion, and employment.

The audience agreed that a lot of makers pursue projects that have the potential to tackle these challenges sustainably. While they do not lack creativity, ideas and a sense of societal responsibility, they by and large lack public recognition. This, in turn, makes it more difficult for initiatives to receive funding or guide policy in a favorable direction. So one consequent action to be pursued by the Maker movement would be to voice their values and showcase their activities to a wider public. Hence, our presentation, as well as the other ideas and projects exhibited at the Digital Social Innovation Fair 2017, provide valuable insights for MAKE-IT’s sustainability scenarios developed as part of Work Package 6. To collect further input, the results of the discussion are presented here and will remain open for further comments by the online community. Furthermore,  Janosch Sbeih wrote an analytical report of the DSI Fair 2017 you can check below.

 

TUDO Analytical Report: DSI Fair 2017

 

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