For more than 10 years, the global Fab Lab network gathers each year in a conference/symposium/meeting where its members can meet, discuss and share ideas, projects, knowledge and collaboration. This year FAB13, the 13th edition, was held in Santiago de Chile with “Fabricating Society” as its central topic during July 31 – August 6 2017. Unfortunately I could not attend it, so I’m not going to discuss the event, but here you can find pictures and videos of the event and here a complete overview of what happened during FAB13.
What I’d like to talk about here is that these FAB events usually have a small research track where members of the community present scientific papers about their activities and research, and this year its topic followed closely the topic of the main conference: “Fab Labs and Society” (and I was part of the program committee and reviewed some contributions). You can read the complete book of the proceedings here and download it here, and since some papers were only available as abstracts for the conference you can find the final version of all papers here. Beside the papers, the editors of the proceedings kindly invited me and other researchers to provide an article for the proceedings without a peer review evaluation (more like a book chapter), and I wrote a short chapter with notes for future research on the impact of the Fab Lab network. This short contribution aims at proposing a set of research questions for the Fab Lab network, that should be considered more as notes shared among members of the community than as a structured research proposal. Furthermore, this was the opportunity to reflect about how to improve our understanding of the impact of the Fab Lab network and of the Maker movement, a very strategic issue that I think it is still under researched. Luckily, MAKE-IT is one of the first contributions towards exploring this dimension, and in the article I also explains why I think MAKE-IT could be useful for researchers and the Fab Lab network in this direction.