Doctoral dissertations and Master’s theses on open design, fab labs and maker culture, digital fabrication, updated once again here: https://blogs.aalto.fi/makerculture/2017/01/24/doctoral-dissertations-and-masters-theses/
Category Archives: studies
Types of Fab Lab Papers
I succumbed to the temptation; I too had to make a Types of Papers meme.
The original comic is here and this is an excellent meme-maker.
The twelve types of papers in my joke comic are
We Printed This Amazing Thing, Like This
Results of a Survey of One Thousand Fab Labs Because We’re Sociologists with Research Funding
We Studied Entrepreneurship in This Fab Lab and Look How Amazing It Was
Fab Labs are the Future of Work Where No One Gets Paid
Here is What We Learned in a Survey of 10 Grumpy Fab Lab Managers with Survey-Fatigue
We Made This Amazing Interactive Design, Like This
Children Learn Better With Materials in Classrooms Called Makerspaces
The Fab Lab Maker Movement Appears to be Localizing Production But We’re Not Entirely Sure
The Performance of Multidisciplinarity and Innovation in Fab Labs
Making Open Culture Even More Openly in Library and Museum Maker Fab Labs
Makers Responded Very Quickly to PPE Shortages!
How To Use Sensors in One Hundred Thousand Ways
Alternative Histories in DIY Cultures and Maker Utopias
Please join us for a special event on alternative maker histories, Thursday 29 April 2021, 18.00-19.45 CET, online.
Register here to get the zoom link: http://tiny.cc/by9wtz
The event will be recorded.
The programme (subject to changes):
18.00 INTRODUCTION (18.00 Amsterdam, Cape Town; 13.00 Rio de Janeiro; 12.00 New York; 0.00 Hong Kong)
Cindy Kohtala, Yana Boeva, Peter Troxler
RADICAL TECHNOLOGY – THEN AND NOW
Chair of theme: Cindy Kohtala
Simon Sadler, Peter Harper in conversation with Cindy Kohtala and Yana Boeva on Alternative Technology and the Exhibition of People’s Technology, Stockholm, 1972
Kostas Latoufis on Alternative Technology in the UK.
THE POLITICS OF DIY COMMUNITIES
Chair of theme: Peter Troxler
Ellen Foster on the history of Maker manifestos.
Regina Sipos on the history of Germany’s Open Workshops.
Suné Stassen and Felix Holm on Making and makerspaces in southern Afrika.
In absentia: David Cuartielles, Cesar Garcia on the history of Spain’s maker communities.
19.00 BREAK (19.00 Amsterdam, Cape Town; 14.00 Rio de Janeiro; 13.00 New York; 01.00 Hong Kong)
THE POLITICS OF CARE, CRAFT AND REPAIR
Chair of theme: Yana Boeva
Emilio Velis on the Meaning of craft during the San Salvadoran civil war.
Svetlana Usenyuk-Kravchuk on Arctic inventiveness and “cosmic conversion”.
In absentia: Petr Gibas, Blanka Nyklova on Czech DIY.
Anupama Gowda on Making with and for marginalized children in India.
ALTERNATIVE INDUSTRIAL HISTORIES
Chair of theme: Yana Boeva
Sam Shorey on Corporate DIY, ‘then and now’.
Kat Jungnickel on discovering women’s Inventions in patent registries.
Jesse Adams Stein, by video, on the Meaning of manufacturing expertise.
OPEN DISCUSSION AND CLOSING OF EVENT
This event is to mark the launch of a Special Issue of Digital Culture & Society, guest editors Cindy Kohtala, Yana Boeva and Peter Troxler.
If you have any questions about the event, please email me directly or our editors’ email <dcs.si.althistdiy (at) gmail.com>. We are also collecting questions for the presenters in advance!
The study was supported in part by the Nessling Foundation.
Research in the time of COVID-19
Wow, it’s been a weird few months, hasn’t it? And for the first few weeks of voluntary self-isolation, I was certainly over-using the word ‘weird’.
In lieu of posting a new blog post here, I will gladly link you to a blog post I wrote for Nessling Foundation, who is funding my current research project.
Rapid Response, Slow Adjustment
Codes of Conduct
There is a common myth that self-organizing peer-to-peer communities can collaborate together by sheer virtue of the fact that the individuals involved are rational and reasonable human beings. When conflicts occur, and they inevitably do, there are no mechanisms to deal with it, and those with invisible power, higher up in a hierarchy that everyone denies is there, tend to use their power to maintain their position or rise higher, often buoyed by charisma and the ability to proselytize.
In some cases conflicts and flame wars can ultimately be healthy, leading to forks and new pathways for social or technological innovation. But often the costs are higher than the gains, with people simply leaving – usually women, BIPOC, LGBTQ and other folks marginalized by physical disabilities or being neuro divergent.
There is also a collective amnesia with regard to self-organizing. Current peer production social movements appear to ignore the long history of, for example, anarchist organizing in favour of an abstract concept of a rationalist meritocracy that is free of ‘censorship’. Some groups do acknowledge this important history, however, and have worked to integrate better patterns of self-organizing into their socio-economic activities. Community guidelines and Codes of Conduct play an important role in this.
From the position of Science & Technology Studies, I have observed particularly the materiality involved in how DIY maker-activists try to get things done and distribute group governance. By collaborating with experts in media psychology and conflict resolution recently, I have also learned an immense amount about how peer groups can better manage their own self-governance. (And I have painfully recognized the mistakes I have made in the past in my own activist experiences.) This process was initiated and first materialized in a process of writing a Code of Conduct for a group I’m involved in (in my other life as an activist). We wrote about this Values-in-Design (VID) process for a short exploratory paper for the NORDES Nordic Design Research Society Conference.
You’ll find the paper here: Nordes_2019_paper_81
The Caring Community Guidelines are open and free for anyone to copy and adapt to their own needs: https://github.com/ckohtala/community-guidelines/blob/master/CaringCommunityGuidelines.md
Systems of Resilience: A Dialogue on Makers
Here is a free pdf of my chapter in the Agents of Alternatives book, called ‘Systems of Resilience: A Dialogue on Digital Makers, Making and Their Principles of Conduct’ (2015).
It’s an easy read, inspired by the dialogue format Jane Jacobs used in Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics. I present various types of DIY makers, typical motivations for why they do what they do, and the typical types of commons they foreground.
It was reprinted in the research publication Fabricating Society produced for the FAB13 international Fab Lab meeting in 2017, edited by Andrés Briceño and Tomás Vivanco, available as a free pdf here.
Here is my 3rd draft of the research mindmap on citizen production (material peer production, open design, fab labs and makerspaces, etc.).
Draft 4 will have to incorporate the health and bio lit.
The sizes of the circles are relative to my perception of the sizes of the lit in each area – not exact quantities/proportions at this point. I still say that maker-ed / fab-ed / fab-learn is still the biggest area of interest with the most studies.
I started the mindmap last year inspired by Peter Troxler’s publication, which sums up the current understanding on the relations between maker concerns, new manufacturing, urban issues, education and innovation in a nice, concise way.
Comments and suggestions welcome.
Strategies of oppression
In 1989 Marc Lépine murdered 14 engineering students on a Canadian university campus because they were women (as he said while killing as well as in a letter found later).
Subsequently, any analyses and discourse that linked this horrific crime to misogyny and systematic violence against women was mainly shunned, ridiculed and silenced in the Canadian mass media.
The exact same pattern is happening again, in the wake of violent attacks by misogynists known as ‘incels’. This essay Murderous Fallout written in 1991 eerily echoes the same rhetorical strategies we see today, as if we have had no real progress in the last 27 years. I found the essay because of a memory triggered by the current atmosphere: I was doing my Bachelor’s at the University of Alberta at the time (in the late 80s), and to my horror, at a U of A engineering event, male students started shouting ‘Shoot the bitch!’ targeting a female engineering student who was making official complaints about sexist practices.
Studying Industrial Design in those years, in that programme, meant being the only woman in many of the classes (or one of two or three). It was absolutely completely normal in those days for my fellow students to make sexist remarks during our project presentations or even sexually explicit comments. For me it was absolutely normal to have to hear these comments because I am female. It was absolutely normal for the male professors to allow this atmosphere – because that kind of atmosphere was normal. In fact, while it made me uncomfortable, I was so used to that kind of discomfort that I thought it was a given – this is just the world so deal with it. It was absolutely normal that adult males felt they had the right to lay their hands on young women’s bodies, whether mine, my friends’, my nieces’… the family friend, the grandfather next door, the slimey brother-in-law, the brother’s best friend, the cousin, the neighbour – and family members would not call it out because it would have caused disruption and confrontation. Creepy uncles are just part of life.
It wouldn’t have occurred to me until years later, with perspective, maturity and more self-confidence, to realize how this behaviour is not normal and needs to be called out and stopped. I wish the other males around would have had that kind of maturity.
Pretending this oppression doesn’t happen is an oppression and a silencing of its own. Trying to claim that racism against BIPOC doesn’t exist and violence against women doesn’t exist – that there is no patriarchy and no white male privilege – is continued oppression and obvious attempts to maintain current hierarchies. Moreover, pretending that all this talk is just banter in social media with no real consequences is utopian – it has real ramifications in politics and elections, in mobilizing violent mobs, in making workplaces undesireable and uncomfortable for people who don’t happen to be white men, in incentivizing young men to kill.
See Toronto van attack: Your social-media speculation has real-world impact
See journalist Arshy Mann’s Twitter thread and column
See Absolute Unit’s fierce Twitter thread
See David Futrelle’s article ‘Incels hail Toronto van driver who killed 10 as a new Elliot Rodger, talk of future acid attacks and mass rapes’
See studies done by anthropology students
See this Master’s thesis
See ‘4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump‘
See ‘How the alt-right’s sexism lures men into white supremacy‘
See Laurie Penny’s column
See the thousands of threats directed at Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, Brianna Wu, Laurie Penny (including the ones investigated by the FBI/police that mean they have to leave their homes) – and then tell me that calling out racism and sexism is virtue signalling and turning our society into a victim society. Whatever the f*ck that even means.
Researching emerging practices of making/production
In our department’s 2017 doctoral Summer School, run by Prof Idil Gaziulusoy, the theme was ‘Concepts and Contexts for Design for Sustainability’. I gave a talk on ‘Researching emerging practices of making/production’. Due to popular demand (a request from one colleague), I’m posting some of the advice here. (The whole slideshow is on Slideshare.)
To clarify, much of this advice is based on frustrations with reading and reviewing article drafts and submissions written by junior researchers that keep repeating the same weaknesses. There is way too much conceptual speculation out there and too little empirics. Everyone is writing about what should-be could-be and not about what is actually happening in DIY making and grassroots activism. DIY making and repair has the potential to dematerialize consumption/production, so everyone writes about this potential instead of actually trying to determine how or if we are experiencing dematerialization or transmaterialization. I have had excellent conversations about this with the stellar Irene Maldini, who wants to investigate the claim that citizen involvement in production and person-product attachment can actually have an impact on consumption – doing the follow-up studies needed to try to observe what people do when they leave the FabLab or clothing workshop.
In other words, Irene and I agree strongly on this: there are surely positive impacts when people do DIY making and repair activities, but don’t try to make the claim that this is going to impact material consumption volumes if you’re not willing to do the work to provide evidence for this. So what then are the impacts? Are you prepared to observe and articulate what they are? What do you have access to and what are you actually observing? Is it about social learning? Something related to ’empowerment’? ‘Agency’? What does empowerment and agency actually mean in your research site? How can it be observed, identified, tracked?
And then, in order to demonstrate the should-be could-be, many articles use the same examples over and over again as illustration, proof of concept, evidence. RepRap. Open Source Ecology. LilyPad Arduino. Again and again and again the same examples – and again and again the same claims that this one example represents something giant and revolutionary instead of something indicative, marginal. Again and again avoiding the conceptual and analytical work in articulating what this example, in its context, tells us about grassroots innovation and sustainability. And worse: writing descriptions of these case studies based on second-hand texts written by others on websites instead of doing case study work (interviews or investigating primary sources and archives).
In research we are supposed to be doing research, not writing manifestos. (Or: do the research first and then write the manifesto so you know what you’re up against and you have some experience under your belt.)
Another common weakness is citing the could-be should-be in popular mainstream books as if it were evidence instead of what it is – discourse (e.g. Chris Anderson’s Makers). Or citing the summarizing discourse in books like Charles Leadbeater’s We-Think or David Gauntlett’s Making is Connecting instead of examining the actual studies those summarizing narratives are based on and citing that. Books like We-Think and Making is Connecting are aimed at wider, more mainstream audiences than academia, and they are therefore written in a different way: there is research cited and described, and then the chapter ends with rhetorical summarizing and proselytizing. I call this proselytizing the Blah Blah Blah. Junior researchers love to cite this blah blah blah, and it drives me mad.
Moreover, the proselytizing in the mainstream lit is often written in what one of my colleagues calls gush: oh, DIY making is so lovely! And everyone and everything is so beautiful! And they are so happy! And all this will obviously change the world and make it a better place because there are no politics and no negativity! Activism is all just so lovely lovely!
In Finnish, lovely lovely = ihana ihana! (The same gush colleague, Eeva Berglund, and I published a book on urban activism in Helsinki in 2015, and in discussions with the publisher and the graphic designer, we were all in agreement that we avoid any kind of ihana ihana book cover.) But junior researchers seem to love the ihana ihana texts, and they liberally sprinkle their articles with ihana ihana citations. This also drives me mad.
Hence the list.
Please please don’t:
Cite ‘should be’ as ‘is’.
Cite (only) the blah blah blah. What studies is the blah blah blah based on?
Misrepresent studies and overgeneralize findings on SCP (Sustainable Consumption and Production). Check the product category, demography, study aim….
Romanticize. Don’t use the same ‘gush’ ‘ihana ihana’ tone as mainstream books.
Catalogue and inflate. Don’t choose only a few niche examples as ‘cases’ (usually overused anyway) and expect them to represent something significant. Be explicit about your case choice and what it represents/doesn’t represent.
Avoid getting your hands into your data. Analysis is not (only) about a rigorous set of codes defined beforehand. Coding is just a way to get to know what is in your data and find it easily. Write descriptive overviews. Make diagrams (Clarke 2005) and mindmaps. Get hints on ways to analyse from Qualitative Data handbooks.
Avoid making memos or notes about data collecting or analysis.
Hide your data or analysis process in papers. Spell it out.
Formulate your research question according to what you are actually studying and able to study. What can you access?
Choose your terminology ‘xx’ according to the field you are aligning with. Be clear and honest with yourself: when I am studying xx, what does that mean in terms of data collecting, and how do I observe it in my data?
Be creative (in a way that is researchable). What designerly ways will deliver data and knowledge? Design interventions / experiments? Workshops?
Be clear and explicit about what ‘sustainability’ is. Choose a definition and principles. Use better, more exact phrases (transition to a more sustainable society, less negative environmental impact, more equity in access to resources…).
Be clear to yourself about what you are studying. The ‘sustainability’ of a system, or participants’ beliefs about the sustainability of the system? Principles for a Circular Economy or how this group encountered/defined barriers and opportunities for transition to a circular economy? Keep this distinct.
And… good luck.
Call For Papers, Open Design and Citizen Production / DIY Making (Jan 2018)
some useful upcoming Call for Papers. (thanks, Massimo.)
ACM SIGCHI Workshop
Maker Movements, DIY Cultures and Participatory Design: Implications for HCI Research
Location: Montreal, Canada
Deadline for submissions: 2 February 2018
One-day workshop: 22nd April 2018
Open design & manufacturing in the platform economy – panel
EASST2018, 25-28 July 2018
EASST2018 Theme: MEETINGS
Location: Lancaster, UK
Deadline for submissions: 14 February 2018
Technoscience from Below 7th STS Italia Conference
Location: University of Padova, Italy
Deadline for submissions: 10 February 2018
Dates: June 14–16, 2018
Journal of Peer Production “OPEN” CFP ISSUE #13
Deadline for submissions: 15 January 2018