Blog posts

Lessons learnt from our in-depth cross-case analysis of 10 maker initiatives in Europe

We have distilled 10 lessons learnt from our in-depth cross-case analysis of 10 maker initiatives in Europe.

Here comes lesson 1:

Although currently we hardly see a major shift in the production of products in general, i.e. from centralised to de-centralised production, we recognise that maker products have a unique selling proposition since products serve niche markets.

Lesson 2:

Maker products have the advantage to responsively take into account individual user needs. Thus personalised and customised products can be developed effectively and fast.

Lesson 3:


Maker initiatives but also makers themselves have a dense network of links to different stakeholder groups, especially to educational institutions. These networks seem to be key for achieving sustainability.

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Notes for future research on the impact of the Fab Lab network

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.

You can read the article in the book of proceedings or its draft here below, under the Publication page, or on here and on ResearchGate here.
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MAKE-IT Advisory Board interviews

I interviewed MAKE-IT Advisory Board members during different meetings we had. All the members are experts in their fields, so I asked them about their experience of the Maker movement and how the project could understand and improve the movement through CAPS.

Check it out:

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A workshop on digital technology to support social innovation: call for papers

INSCI, the International Conference on Internet Science, is one of the main research events about CAPS, and last year we presented a paper at the INSCI2016 edition in Florence:

The international conference on Internet Science aims at progressing and investigating on topics of high relevance with Internet’s impact on society, governance, and innovation. It focuses on the contribution and role of Internet science on the current and future multidisciplinary understanding of societies transformations, governance shifts and innovation quests. Its main objective is to allow an open and productive dialogue between all the disciplines which study the Internet as a socio-technical system under any technological or humanistic perspectives.

The edition of this year will be the 4th International Conference on Internet Science (22-24 November, 2017) in Thessaloniki, (Greece), and beside submitting papers, we are also organising one of its workshops called DSI – Workshop on Digital Technology to Support Social Innovation. The workshop is organized by SINTEF, Cibervoluntarios, Farapi, Politecnico di Milano, TNO, IAAC | Fab City Research Lab (I’m one of the organizers) and supported by the CAPS projects SOCRATIC, MAKE-IT and OPEN4CITIZENS.

The advent of the Web 2.0 enabled the growth of user-generated content, virtual communities and new forms of collaboration over the internet. Since then, multiple platforms, such as the CAPS platforms , have emerged tapping into collective knowledge for fostering awareness, collaboration and innovation.

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The Maker movement at a larger scale: the Fab City framework and its Maker platforms

Sharitaly 2016 (Milan, Italy)

During the last several months I’ve been invited to events to present the work of Fab Lab Barcelona at IAAC, and especially during three events I had the opportunity to talk also about MAKE-IT but especially about the platforms developed in our labs, which can be considered Maker CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms), since they focus on networking distributed and collaborative actors and processes. These events are Sharitaly 2016 (Milan, Italy) (15-16 November 2016), Innovation Village (Naples, Italy) (6-7 April 2017) and Energy & Smart Cities (Águeda, Portugal) (29-30 June 2017). Sharitaly is the main collaborative / sharing economy event in Italy; Innovation Village is the main innovation event in Southern Italy, and Águeda is a small Portuguese city with a population of 15,000 in central/northern Portugal, the first Smart City of the country. Here you can check the presentations for the Sharitaly 2016, Innovation Village and Energy & Smart Cities events.

Innovation Village (Naples, Italy). Source: Medaarch

The common element of the three presentations is the evolution of perspective that the Fab Lab movement is having now, which is increasingly considering its processes, outcomes and impact at a larger scale. Growing at a larger scale is (hopefully) a sign of the success of the Fab Lab and Maker movement, but also a sign of maturity in terms of reflecting upon the work done so fare and upon where to go from here. Growing at a larger scale means at least two directions, along which we are working on at Fab Lab Barcelona:

  1. on the physical, local dimension: the Fab City framework
  2. on the digital, global dimension: the Fab City platforms

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Exploring the (un)sustainability of Making

What is the common feature of food assemblies, libraries of things, and making? At first glance, all of these practices operate in their very individual cultural spheres: Food assemblies attract foodies with a heart for local farmers, makerspaces are full of techies building robots and printing futuristic objects. Libraries of things come in handy in a variety of circumstances ranging from borrowing a drilling machine for domestic construction work to renting a karaoke machine for a birthday party. Yet, all these grassroot movements might contribute to changing consumption practices and all of them so far represent rather niche activities. Transition Studies investigates how more sustainable technologies or practices succeed to overcome their niche status and become the common way of doing things. At the 8th International Sustainability Transitions Conference taking place in Gothenburg from 18th to 21st June, international researchers from a variety of disciplines came together to not only discuss theoretical and methodological advances, but also to share real-life examples.

The three aforementioned grassroot movements with a focus on changing consumption practices and in the case of making and food assemblies also production processes were all presented in a shared speed talk session. Here, I was given the chance to briefly present MAKE-IT’s three sustainability scenarios and discuss their potential to ease the environmental impact with the audience. In that sense, the sustainability scenarios show three possible ways in which the Maker movement could transition to a mainstream activity. Thereby, they emphasize different trends observed in current practices.

The first scenario assumes that the Maker movement is absorbed by public learning spaces. Schools, libraries, museums and other public spaces that reach out to a broad target group create makerspaces within their facilities. Hence, students or visitors can use digital fabrication tools and the pedagogical personnel has the skills to teach them how to do it. Thereby, making is heavily influenced by the attitudes, objectives and rules of the specific public space.

In the second scenario, the Maker movement is embedded in a widely mainstreamed open source ethics taken up by a variety of public and civil society organisation. The wider society is in favour of developing into a commons-based, decentralized P2P manufacturing economy. Here, making is part of a societal change of attitudes from individualistic to cooperative. This development of the Maker movement assumes that a large part of society is able to meet an increasing portion of their material needs without formal employment and is, thus, in favour of becoming part of this change.

In contrast, the third scenario sees the Maker movement as being absorbed by the established industry. Makerspaces become part of corporate research and development departments. Industry benefits from the spirit and grass-roots community elements of the Maker movement. The financial security of makers and makerspaces is significantly increased in this scenario and design approaches are influenced by the maker culture, but the open sharing of designs is largely undermined by global players.

While none of the scenarios explicitly refers to the Maker movement’s potential for ecological sustainability, all of the scenarios have the potential to also include this aspect. Given that the discussants work mainly with environmental sustainability, I used this forum to discuss the drivers and barriers for environmental sustainability in the Maker movement.

The first overarching topic that arose during the discussion was that today we lack the scientific basis for estimating the concrete environmental impact of making. For example, calculations like life cycle analysis or the environmental footprint or backpack, which estimate the total resource use of products and production processes, are difficult to perform given the diversity of filaments, on the one hand, and lack of experience in terms of longevity of the machinery, on the other hand. In addition, rebound effects might emerge when consumers produce certain goods cheaply in makerspaces and spend their saved money on environmental harmful practices elsewhere. On top of that, making is still an additional mode of production which comes on top of traditional production processes and, hence, presents so far an additional environmental burden. This led to the question of what would be produced in makerspaces, as producing in big bulks can in general be done in more energy efficient ways than producing personalized single items.

In a next step, the discussants agreed that the Maker movement can only foster a sustainability transition by changing consumption practices on a wider scale. The discussants regarded this as mainly feasible in scenario one and two, as the main actor in scenario three are businesses whose financial success depends upon a society with ever-growing consumption rates. In general, one participant voiced the concern that the Maker movement risks a similar development as social media 10-15 years ago. In the early days, hopes were high that they could enhance democratisation and civic engagement. However, today most of the popular platforms used by the majority of people worldwide are owned by big corporations with their own interests. This has the consequence that most of the decisions on how to deal with e.g. private data are not made democratically engaging all users, but are subject to corporate interest. Drawing back on this historic development, the discussant claimed that now is the time to take action to undermine this trajectory.

In contrast to scenario three, the first two scenarios diffuse making in civil society. They can contribute to a shift of values, as individuals value an object they made themselves much more than one bought in a shop. Consequently, one will put more effort in enhancing the lifespan of a product by e.g. repairing components. Here, one discussant remarked that a shift to a repairing society, as assumed in scenario two, faces some legal barriers today. For example, due to safety reasons it is not allowed to replace some parts of electronic devices. Even if 3D printers make it easier to print exact copies of the missing components, the safety regulations prevail. This example shows that some of the barriers are posed by the legal environments and cannot easily be solved by the Maker movement in isolation.

However, scenario one and two depend heavily on mediators who not only teach the skills necessary for digital fabrication but also spark the interest in doing so in the first place. One participant highlighted that this mediator function would then also assure that civil society uses the makerspace for its intended purpose. He further gave the example of makerspace, which was created in Barcelona as part of the town’s fab city concept, but transformed into a food market by citizens who did not see a personal gain in making.

The discussion of MAKE-IT’s sustainability scenarios in regard to the drivers and barriers of a sustainability transition with focus on environmental sustainability showed that scenario one and two offer more points of leverage for changing consumption practices on a large scale. This is in so far of relevance as clear cut evaluations of the environmental impact do not exist and are difficult to calculate. Hence, the Maker movement’s potential to enhance environmental sustainability lies mainly in changing the attitude towards and behaviour of consumption. At best people consume and produce only what they actually need and value these things more, which at the same time leads to a shift from “buying new” to “repairing”.

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D3.2: Final case study report focusing on cross-case analysis

Deliverable 3.2 represents the in-depth cross-case analysis, highlighting the communalities and diverging approaches of different maker cases and aims at answering the research questions that were defined in previous work (Check out the previous deliverable D3.1 on its page). This deliverable thus builds on the collected data of ten case studies of maker initiatives in eight different European countries, spanning from maker spaces and fablabs to companies operating at the interface between makers and industry: Fablab Barcelona (Spain), Arduino (Italy), Smart Bending Factory (the Netherlands), Mini Maker Faire (Estonia), Happylab Vienna (Austria), DTI lab (Denmark), Dezentrale (Germany), HRW lab (Germany), Create It Real (Denmark), and FabLab Zagreb (Croatia).

In total, 39 interviews with managers of these initiatives as well as makers were transcribed and complemented by self-reporting sheets filled in by managers. The collected material was subsequently analysed with qualitative analysis methods in an explorative and structuring way combining deductive and inductive coding approaches. While all deductive codes were based on the three research pillars with its various research themes and potential research questions as identified in D2.1, in the inductive approach additional new codes directly evolved from the material. All the material was coded in two rounds by different researchers to safeguard maximal reliability and validity of the process. The analysis resulted in around 1,700 deductive codings, which built the basis for the work on the pre-defined research themes. With the aim to base the work on pre-existing knowledge and to complement and support the findings of our qualitative analysis, the literature cited in D2.1 was revisited and additional literature was integrated. This resulted in a rich data set that reveals quite some research gaps that have not been or only partially been addressed in research so far. Thus, the study represents one of few attempts to collect (qualitative) data on maker initiatives concerning manifold dimensions and critical issues and thus is able to reveal interesting findings adding value to the state-of-the-art in the field.

We just released the results in Deliverable D3.2 here below or also on its page, where you can also comment it.

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The other clash of the civilizations

Summary of an expert discussion about the future of the Maker movement. Specifically one scenario: The Maker movement is absorbed into established industry.


Three Fablab managers, two Maker Faire organizers, social innovation researchers, technology developers, business strategy experts, and others.

There is a significant difference between two ‘civilizations’ that relate to making and using things in our daily lives. One ‘civilization’ is the Maker movement with a focus on broad participation in digital fabrication. And on sharing, playfulness and improving society or the environmental. The other is the capitalist ‘civilization’ that focuses on market competition, and innovation as a means to maximize profit or shareholder value.

In this expert discussion, carried out in three rounds at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, around 15 experts discussed the possible scenario that the Maker movement is absorbed into existing industry:

  • The Maker movement functions as research and development departments of industry parties
  • Industry benefits from the spirit and grass-roots community elements of the Maker movement
  • Management and design approaches follow maker culture, whereby some elements of the Maker movement become part of business life, like the slogan ‘just make it’
  • Although some hardcore makers may resist the corporate dominance, in this scenario most maker activity is carried out in makerspaces controlled by for-profit enterprises

What are the experts’ thoughts on this scenario? Can they suggest refinements to it, or suggest likely ways this could develop?

How likely is this scenario? Does it align with other social or economic developments?

If this scenario does come about, what do they think the impact will be? Can they develop recommendations for stakeholders?

Here is a selection of some highlights of the discussion.

Changing production landscape

Well, there are various ways that firms might organize their maker initiatives. Either bringing makerspaces in house, using external makerspaces as their crowdsourcing platforms, or investing in maker start-ups, harvesting the best ideas that emerge. Actually, there are already many initiatives that are making steps in this direction, including the Industry4makers project in Vienna, and, already in 2011, Google’s involvement in the “Silicon Roundabout” area in London. Indeed, this scenario can easily be supported by governmental policy measures.

It is important to realize that makers are not only helped by financial support, but just as much by access to a network of useful contacts, to knowledge, and to new technologies and machines. So, the way that firms engage with makers in this scenario could be based on a variety of incentive mechanisms. Drawing parallels with the open source software movement, and the strong bonds that that now has with the largest software firms, the experts indicated that a complete internalization of the Maker movement by firms is unlikely. Nevertheless, the experts indicated that the potential for large scale disruption across many industries is possible, with a real possibility of completely new industries emerging and the production landscape changing for good.

One discussion centred on the combination of makers with small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), as opposed to large corporate firms. The SMEs could offer a highly beneficial way of working to makers. They may be able to develop a more personal relationship with makers and give the makers more the feeling that they can be self-determining and in charge of their own creative process – at least to some degree. Added to this, SMEs, more than larger firms, may have trouble developing an appropriate strategic reaction to digital fabrication innovations. They may therefore be more open to advice that makers give, and this could lead to a new role for makerspaces and maker communities as they can function as matchmakers linking SMEs to relevant makers.

Another discussion looked at a societal shift becoming apparent in some areas, away from the traditional left-wing versus right-wing divide, and moving more towards a ‘we prefer local’ versus ‘we prefer global’ economy.

Impact for makers and for firms

More focus in maker projects is likely to result, with less makers simply playing around. So, the maker ‘spirit’ will most likely die out. One of the key drivers of maker initiatives is the community-building aspects of makers, both makers together and by building a close-knit community of various interested parties. But communities, built on mutual trust and understanding, are notoriously fragile. A serious danger for makers in the scenario being discussed is that this community element will be damaged. Thus removing an important motive for makers to participate, and a major source of their knowledge development. Probably the most well-known example of this was the move of MakerBot, that began as a community project before being acquired by Stratasys in June 2013. At that point, many of the community members retracted their support.

There can be a positive effect on the creativity of the makers, as they gain from the drive and focus stimulated by the firms. Added to this, it will be much easier for firms to put together different multi-disciplinary teams to address new problems and challenges. An optimal level of variety in the team has been shown to be very important in leading to creativity and high performance.

Without the resources provided by firms, makers are currently often reliant on public funding and subsidy. In this business-first scenario, the future makers may benefit from the financial sustainability that this offers them.

Dominant economic model

Probably the main consensus that emerged in the discussions between the experts was that there are two main futures of this scenario in terms of which economic model will become dominant. Many expect that the profit and shareholder value focus of existing firms will remain the dominant force even when makers become involved. Thus the financially-driven ‘civilization’ would take onboard professional makers, and force a hardcore Maker movement underground, leaving them underfunded and marginalized. The other future is when the maker ‘civilization’ actually has a major influence on the culture and working of commercial firms. In this future, more firms will adopt social and environmental goals, besides their financial goals, and they will compete for expertise by promoting their sharing culture and the importance of their corporate social responsibility aims.

What will determine which of these civilizations wins out? The experts found this difficult to say as they thought that it would depend on a range of factors, including regulation, such as that promoting smart city initiatives, as well as market forces. A Pew Research study and Harvard University survey in the US show a possible market shift, according to one expert. That study shows that a large number of young people no longer believe in the capitalist model, so in ten years’ time there may be a fertile ground for corporations that develop a relationship with these consumers on their terms. But, similar to so-called “greenwashing” practices by some unscrupulous firms, future caring corporations that say they embody the Maker movement’s principles may simply be wolves in sheep’s clothing.

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The good and the bad of mainstreaming an open source maker economy

Summary of an expert discussion about the future of the maker movement. Specifically one scenario: The Maker movement mainstreams into wider society as an open source, commons-based, decentralised P2P manufacturing economy.


Three Fablab managers, two Maker Faire organizers, social innovation researchers, technology developers, business strategy experts, and others.

Open source ethics and commons-based peer-to-peer production have a long-standing tradition as they form the ethical basis of the hacker movement. The Maker movement is influenced by the hacker culture and carries their legacy with them in their sharing practices of open source designs and practices (see also the blog post “Similarities, differences and interactions between the Hacker scene and the Maker movement” from 2nd March 2017).  

In this expert discussion, carried out in three rounds at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain, around 15 experts discussed the possible scenario that the Maker movement mainstreams these values into wider society by developing into an open source, commons-based, decentralised P2P manufacturing economy. Features of this scenario are:

  • Common shift of attitudes: “social”, “sustainable”, “alternative” and “cooperative” approaches prevail over “conservative”, “individualistic” and “capitalistic” ideas and practices
  • A paradigm shift towards the commons rather than governance through the state or market
  • New Currency models for exchange
  • “Clash of cultures”: P2P/commons culture vs. traditional economy
  • Many self-employed workers -> different culture of work and sharing
  • Diffusion: maker technology in many spaces
  • Diffusion of media competence and internet participation of persons

What are the experts’ thoughts on this scenario? Can they suggest refinements to it, or suggest likely ways this could develop?

How likely is this scenario?  Does it align with other social or economic developments?

If this scenario does come about, what do they think the impact will be? Can they develop recommendations for stakeholders?

Here is a selection of some highlights of the discussion.

Non-monetary value creation…

As this scenario presents the picture of a society in which post-capitalist methods of production and distribution play a large role, one of the major points of discussion revolved around monetised and non-monetised forms of work and value-creation; a topic that is paid attention to in the whole of the CAPS EU research programme which aims to look “beyond GDP” in its analysis of value creation. Complementary currencies can play a role as social technologies to facilitate the non-monetary exchange of goods and services. To install such alternative currencies, piloting and cooperation with public institutions are crucial. Piloting the currency is highly recommended to find out whether it is accepted in the community, how it is being used and what its effects are, while cooperation with public institutions safeguards that the implementation of complementary currencies is legal and condoned by the authorities. To reward contributors to commons structures with such non-monetary credits can have several benefits. First, the credits serve as tokens of social recognition from the community a person is contributing to. Second, it was argued that the state should recognise the earning of such credits as a sign for a person’s contributions to society and ensure that the person’s material needs are being met without requiring the person to enter into paid employment. This could happen through a guarantee of unemployment benefits in the case of earned credits (a conditional model) or through the payment of a universal basic income that enables everybody to contribute to the commons without also having a paid job on the side (an unconditional model). The widespread contribution to the commons at the expense of spending less time in paid employment is contingent on a cultural change towards a culture of sufficiency (having enough), rather than desiring to become financially rich. Wealth might thus be conceived very differently in this scenario than the accumulation of financial riches.

… leading to monetary income (for some)

Nonetheless, complementary currency schemes could also support the earning of monetary income as the earned credits can also represent a person’s positive reputation which can then lead to paid work. If employers recognise credits earned in commons structures as a feature of qualification, then this would become an institutionalised pathway from ‘commoning’ to paid employment. With the commons playing a bigger role in society and increasingly meeting also people’s material needs, it is important to pay attention to possibly existing structures of exclusion that might crop into this sphere. Who can access the networks of P2P production and who can’t? Does the contribution to and benefiting from commons possibly depend on levels of education, social capital or early involvement? A danger of this scenario is that it could play into an already observable split of the labour force where educated workers with a high degree of social capital are able to benefit from the commons and P2P-networks and are able to freely design their work-portfolios based on their skills and interest, while low-skilled workers work very precariously with little job- and income-security through unstable freelancing, zero-hour contracts and the like. For the latter group, it is therefore crucial to have strong labour protection and social security policies in place, as well as training schemes that educate people how to participate and make use of the new production networks.

Trust mechanisms

Another strand of discussion revolved around the question which kind of trust mechanisms need to be in place for people to embrace P2P production in the societal mainstream. Does it suffice if individual producers’ reputation becomes their ‘brand’ in P2P-networks? How is the quality of products such as motorbike helmets being assured? Do such products need special regulation to ensure adequate customer protection? What role do warranty and returns play in this scenario? Apart from quality assurance and customer protection, it is possible that the repairing and upcycling culture gets strengthened in this scenario, something that can also be fostered institutionally, as Sweden shows with their recent policy of providing tax incentives to repair broken products instead of buying new ones. This repairing culture would likely take place offline in local neighbourhoods where people are also embedded in sharing networks for goods of their everyday use. In the offline realm, it was mentioned that also non-digital crafts should not be forgotten as they have lower entry barriers and people also share their techniques and skills online, as is currently being done for example through Youtube videos on knitting techniques.

The dark sides of the scenario

Finally, there were still several calls for attention in this scenario, ranging from the very fundamental (“Where does the material for the increased personal production come from?”) to the very specific (“Can you make and distribute everything, also weapons?”). As a cautionary comment, it was noted that personal production might not always be the better option, as some products can probably be more sustainably be mass-produced and then transported to the end-customer. It is also questionable whether the new open source economy will necessarily clash with the old capitalist economy, as it might also just be integrated and create added value for established structures and organisations. The commons culture might thus be hijacked by capitalist structures, just as the sharing economy was by the types of Uber and AirBnB.


The experts agreed: out of the three scenarios discussed, this one represented the most significant shift away from the current societal model of production, distribution and organisation of work. It thus carries also the highest impact potential for society as a whole and while it promises a more open, well-distributed and freely accessible creation of goods than the current economic model does, it also encompasses the danger of reproducing current dynamics of exclusion and precarisation while introducing new challenges for worker- and customer-protection. In order to bring about a more widespread production for the commons and to ensure the material security of workers and customers alike, policy structures need to be put into place that foster and protect the commons and commoners.

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The uptake of the Maker Movement – mainstreaming “making” through public institutions

On 21st June, MAKE-IT researchers David Langley, Bastian Pelka and Janosch Sbeih discussed preliminary findings of MAKE-IT’s research with experts from research and active makers from the consortium. The objective of the workshop was to gather qualitative comments on the future development of the Maker movement. Base of their discussion were three scenarios. They are illustrating different pathways of the future development of the Maker movement and the use of maker technologies within society. These scenarios had been developed by TUDO from the results of all MAKE-IT workpackages. Read what the workshop produced as feedback on the following scenario:

“Scenario 1: The Maker movement assumes cultural roles and shapes public institutions”

Within this scenario, the Maker movement is absorbed by public learning spaces. Schools, libraries, museums and other publicly financed spaces are installing makerspaces where visitors can use digital fabrication tools and methodologies. There is a societal uptake of the “making” attitude, but this is influenced by attitudes, objectives and rules from the public spaces. “Making” is understood as an aspect of cultural techniques.

The following “Leitmotive” are describing the scenario:

  1. There is a “Clash of cultures” between the makerspace culture and the culture of public spaces. There will be confrontation and mutual co-development.
  2. A separation/specialization can be observed: different makerspaces are specializing by coupling with different local public learning spaces.
  3. Transformation (of both): makerspaces heritage rules, codes and hierarchies from public spaces. Public spaces are opening and flexibilising
  4. Makerspaces in public spaces are following an “educational” and/or ”arts” approach – they are used for learning or pursuing arts. The design of pre-market models and research for patents are not on top of the agenda.
  5. The uptake of makerspaces in hundred thousands of public spaces in the European Union leads to a wide diffusion of maker approaches and attitudes; though, these are conflicting with approaches, objectives and attitudes of the public spaces they are housed in. Mainstreaming of the Maker movement comes with changes of the movement.

These “Leitmotive” were introduced as aspects of the scenario. These are the results of the discussion of this scenario:

Mutual benefits for cooperation between makerspaces and public spaces

There is no argument against the trajectory of this scenario. All participants are seeing this scenario as already rooted in recent developments and as a possible future scenario.

There are several arguments that see positive aspects in this scenario both for the existing public spaces and the makerspaces. Firstly, makerspaces could profit from such a “marriage” by the assets that public spaces could bring in:

  • Many schools, libraries and museums have space at their disposal – and space is something that especially makerspaces in big cities are lacking. If public spaces would open own makerspaces, this would ease the problem of missing rooms.
  • Public institutions have long rooted experience in attracting people to their rooms. Makers could profit from this if they want to attract more visitors.
  • Public institutions have a high visibility that could support the Maker movement in reaching out to people that have no contact to makerspaces at the moment.
  • Public institutions hold an existing infrastructure and connect to existing communities. Both could support a widening of the Maker movement.

On the other sides, the Maker movement could support public spaces with certain assets:

  • The maker pedagogy is new, attractive and inspiring and can attract new visitors to public spaces.
  • Making as an attitude could innovate public institutions and widen their impact, attractiveness and target groups.

Barriers to cooperation

While there are many arguments for such a “marriage” of public spaces and makerspaces, the participants pointed to barriers that might make this scenario become unlikely. These are:

  • This cooperation needs a shift of mindsets on both sides: Public spaces need to open up for the ideas and approaches of makers; makers need to find arrangements with the restrictions that public spaces have. This process needs mutual learning.
  • The trajectory “from niche to mainstream” will change the Maker movement. The movement and individual makers and communities will need to discuss changes and “red lines”. The question will arise: “When is the Maker movement still a movement?”
  • A general barrier is inertia to change within existing institutions. The scenario will not happen within a few years and this process seems not to fit to the maker idea of rapid change.

How to make it happen

A final round of debates was dedicated to recommendations for making this scenario happen. What would the participants suggest that different actors should do in order to support this scenario?

  • Local communities should be included in any process stemming from local public institutions and makerspaces. The participation and support of local people is crucial and should take place at the start of these developments.
  • Public spaces are run by public servants. Any cooperation between makers and public servants should build on the most motivated staff on both sides, building on the shared aim of “reaching out to people”.
  • Makerspaces are not necessarily accessible for all people. This is an aspect to invest in. Many public spaces are following accessibility rules and have experience in creating environments that attract marginalised or vulnerable people.
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