Digital fabrication. Whose industrial revolution?

As the Society for Social Studies of Science & EASST build up to their annual meeting in Barcelona next month, the 4S blog is featuring preview pieces by participants. One is by Johan Söderberg, Maxigas, and Adrian Smith, with a taste of their paper about democratizing the tools of scientific-technical expertise. 

The last wave of making, makerspaces and open hardware production have been hailed as a new industrial revolution, promising a democratization of the means of production and to set straight all the wrongs of the previous industrial revolutions.

How many times before have we not heard that tune being sung to us? It is familiar to anyone that has been following information technology discourses for a few years, so familiar, in fact, that even the critiques against it are getting tedious.

Time to start afresh and ask new questions about the hype surrounding making: in what ways are the maker scene constituted by hype, why do we so badly want to be deceived by it, and what potentialities for emancipation lay hidden in this latest wave of talked-up products, not in spite of the hype, but because of it?

Read the full post on the 4S Backchannels blog.

More on making & innovation

Adrian Smith is one of the authors of the new book Grassroots Innovation Movements, which is now available to order from Routledge. We’ll also be discussing digital fabrication at an event at the Brighton Digital Festival on 28 September.