8 Jun 2014

Article "Digital Makers: an Ethnographic Study of the FabLab Amsterdam Users" presented in Milan

Article presented at 5th Sts Italia Conference "A Matter of Design. Making Society through Science and Technology" and published in the conference proceedings (pp.1105-1114).


The popularization of digital fabrication tools at a domestic level and through the proliferation of maker labs or spaces is said to put the process of manufacture in the hands of the masses. This phenomenon has had ample repercussion in the media; analysts are announcing that anyone interested can make instead of buying what they need or want, indicating that the boom of participation has arrived to the realm of material objects. 

The future of digital fabrication depends, as in any emergent technology, on both technical developments and the utility found by its users. This ethnographic study of digital makers (users of the FabLab Amsterdam) explores the later, adding a feet-on-the-ground perspective to this discussion. It suggests that these tools are empowering creative people, improving the accuracy and widening the scope of their projects. On the other hand, it also points out that the emergence of an alternative model of consumption based on connected production at a domestic scale described in the media may not be aligned to the current state of affairs.