Dmc3 Session 04

DMC3: Session 04: Digital Material & Maker Culture
Ti 05.10. klo 13:00-15.30

Intro to Maker Culture

“As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of ‘do it yourself’.”
Marshall McLuhan

“In the 21st century economy, it isn't factories and it isn't people that make things. It's communities.”
Eben Moglen


'Do-it-Yourself', or DIY in short, is a phrase which refers to being self-reliant to engage and complete tasks which would maybe otherwise be done by professionals or those more experienced. Its philosophical roots reach back to the Arts and Craft movement of the late 19th Century.
As a term, it emerged in 1950s USA connected with home-improvements, but later, with avant-garde performance and intermedia arts, and with the emergence of Punk music culture in late 1970s-early 1980s UK.
It is often associated with anti-consumerism, self-publishing and production.
In recent years DIY as an approach has been broadly applied to many aspects of everyday living.

Kokeellisen Elektroniikan Seura / Association for Experimental Electronics

"Association of experimental electronics is a group of experimental electronics enthusiasts. They gather old consumer electronics and transform it into sound producing devices. With these experimental devices they play concerts, build installations out of them and teach how to build similar things.

Their mission is to show that you can turn your own electronic waste into interesting electronic experiments. Koelse's projects have been seen and heard around Europe on festivals, museums, galleries and alternative art spaces sinces 2002”.

Koelse Workshop March 09 mins

KoKoMYS workshop, Koelse table, Ilmiö 2009

From essay “Towards the Post-Digital Era” (ISEA2010 Ruhr Proceedings)..

Koelse writes..

“When we started we had both aesthetic and environmental reasons for choosing our medium.

Perfectness and unlimited possibilities of digital media seemed very boring for us, since we all loved the roughness of D.I.Y. analog experiments.

We also were very concerned about the environmental effects of digital mass-culture.

The problem of digital culture is the shortening product cycle. Moores law states that the number of transistors that can be replaced inexpensively on an integrated circuit doubles every two years. This enables the exponential growth of computing power, but also leads to the exponential amount of electronic waste.

During the last 8 years, we have taken apart or modified hundreds if not thousands of different devices mostly from 1950s to 1990s. Judging by the waste, there are three distinctive trends you can see in all consumer electronics: reducing size, increasing complexity and decreasing quality.

It is commonly believed that exponential growth of computing power can continue forever.

Theoretically it might so, but the lifespan of the devices cannot exponentially shorten forever.

For some reason the shortening cycle does not seem to reflect on the materials being used. Consumer electronics are still made from oil-products and metals. Even the only organic material wood, has been replaced by plastic to make things smaller.

Lately there has been lot's of talk about issues like peak oil, ecological sustainability and fundamental problems of western financial model.

Still there have been quite little dicussion about sustainability of digital culture.

Digital culture is not static, it is dynamic. All digital devices need to be upgraded for newer products in an ever-shortening cycle. Production of new products require new oil to be pumped, metals to be mined, energy to do this and also a working market where these products can be bought and sold.

Digital culture as we know is very fragile and not ecologically sustainable. It will not last forever. In Koelse one of our aims is to think what kind of technology could we have after the digital era.

As a consumer-society, waste is the legacy we leave for future generations. The least we can do is give some kind of instructions on what you can do with it.”


“Freecycling, also known as Free Recycling, is the act of giving away usable but unneeded items to others instead of disposing of them in a landfill”


Repurpose Documentary: Foulab

'Re Purpose' by Jack Oatman (10mins) | Uploaded jackoatmontreal | May 07, 2009

"A look into the hardware hacking community in Montreal, including the Foulab collective. Why are more and more hobbyists experimenting with hacks and circuit bends? What relationship does this imply about consumer society and technological advancement? Is this a real-world analog of 'user generated content'?"

“Make your tools or be shaped by them”


O'Reilly: Maker Faire 2006-

“MAKE comes from O'Reilly, the Publisher of Record for geeks and tech enthusiasts everywhere.. Since 1978, business leaders and geeks alike have relied on the company's books, conferences, and web sites to illuminate new computer technologies around the globe.”

San Mateo/Bay Area CA, Austin TX, Detriot MI, New York NY

'Makers - A short-subject documentary about the Do-It-Yourself Counterculture'
00:00 – 14:30 (total 26mins)

“Makers is a short subject documentary, filmed at Austin's Maker Faire, 2007, about the people behind the do-it-yourself counterculture and their inventions.”


Maker Faire Bay Area 2010


Other clips

Skiatik: Demo of circuit bent electronic drum toy

The Fat Man (George Sanger) and Circuit Girl (Jeri Ellsworth)
“Too smart to be cool, too cool to be a nerd”

High Definition Etch A Sketch - Internet Enabled


Blood in the Mobile

Blood in the Mobile is a documentary by director Frank Piasecki Poulsen.

“We love our cell phones and the selection between different models has never been bigger. But the production of phones has a dark, bloody side.”

WATCH Trailer [02.45]


Product Hacking

Large resource of materials around Physical Hacking, towards Open design




Maker Communities/Forums Online



Make Magazine

Maker Faire




Open Design & Sharing

How are social media changing design? What is the value of a prototype?
How are work and play merging? Where is design headed in the 21st century?

WATCH [08.44]:

Delivered in Beta: an immediated autodocumentary (2010)

This video was created during the Open Design Workshop at the Betahaus
as part of Social Media Week Berlin 2010


Why Free Hardware Design?

"Free Design Practice

Designs are owned by the people who create them. Ownership is protected by copyright law only. The intention is to make designs as widely available as possible.
There is every incentive to build on older designs, to collaborate with as wide a spread of people as possible, and to make the designs widely known. NGOs in developing countries are not locked out, but encouraged to reuse designs.
Design software is free software, so that anyone who wishes to can participate.
Designs are driven by the wishes of their creators. The end goal can be whatever they wish.
Users of the end product can not only know how it works, but are encouraged to create improvements or modify it for their own purposes."


Key Arguments for the Benefits of Shared Designs

By Shared Design Alliance (SDA)

Placing design information in the public domain has the following benefits:

1. Lowers Entry Barriers by Providing a Platform for Low-Cost Experimentation.
Example of Google based on 2 shared designs: published design for IBM computer which led to high proliferation of computing devices; linux operating system which allowed them to make network of 1000s of computers which could be used to make internet searchers at higher speed and lower cost than their rivals.
“Shared designs allow innovators to add small improvements without reinventing the wheel, and this freedom can lead to great things.”

2. Allows Collaboration Across Boundaries.
Best research comes from connecting disciplines that seem to have little in common, and people who are involved in multiple fields. Shared design breaks down some of traditional organisational boundaries. E.g. Zeroprestige (surf-kite boards) had people who were aerospace engineers collaborating with extreme sports enthusiasts.

3. Accelerates Technical Evolution.
Shared designs allow multiple teams in multiple organisations and contexts to pursue different goals at the same time. E.g. Sharing recipies

4. Increases Societal Wealth.
Much of world wealth is built on designs we already share (farming, concrete, telephones) iand the incredible value we derive from their slow but steady improvement.

5. Coordinates Efforts to Benefit Underserved Communities.
Shared designs work best in areas where needs are diverse and pressing and where there is a relatively small opportunity for profit. These are also areas served poorly by expensive R&D and mass production, and may be served better through a different model.


“Both the capital and marginal cost of making products has trended consistently and rapidly down as manufacturing tools become both cheaper and more versatile, so that the capital cost of an object is increasingly not in the capital equipment required to manufacture it, but in the effort required to design it.”

Terry Hancock


Further Reading

Massimo Menichinelli: Design in the Age of Sharing

Liquidware Antipasti: Zen and the Art of Open Source Hardware


Examples of Open Design Project Examples



BugLab's Bug

eCar Now!

Open Prosthetics Project

Zeroprestige (open-source surf-kite board)

WindowFarms (vertical growing hydroponic system)

Open Source Ecology/Open Farm Tech



Other Open Design links..

Demo Tech

OF_open furniture


User Manufacturing

Frank Piller:

“User manufacturing is enabled by three main technologies:

(1)Easy-to-operate design software that allows users to transfer their ideas into a design.

(2)Design repositories where users upload, search, and share designs with other users. This allows a community of loosely connected users to develop a large range of applications.

(3)Easy-to-access flexible manufacturing technology. New rapid manufacturing technologies ("fabbing") finally deliver the dream of translating any 3-D data files into physical products — even in you living room.

Combining this technology with recent web technologies can open a radical new way to provide custom products along the entire 'long tail' of demand.”

Personal Fabrication for Dummies

Commercial Examples..

“Ponoko is an online marketplace for everyone to click to make real things.
It’s where creators, digital fabricators, materials suppliers and buyers meet to make (almost) anything.”



“Your place to buy and sell all things handmade”


3D Model Repositories




Open Materials


Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing

PolyJet Matrix by Objet


Fab Labs

“A Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory) is a small-scale workshop with an array of computer controlled tools that cover several different length scales and various materials, with the aim to make "almost anything". This includes technology-enabled products generally perceived as limited to mass production.
While Fab Labs have yet to compete with mass production and its associated economies of scale in fabricating widely distributed products, they have already shown the potential to empower individuals to create smart devices for themselves. These devices can be tailored to local or personal needs in ways that are not practical or economical using mass production.
Examples of flexible manufacturing equipment within a fab lab:
Laser cutter, plasma cutter and water jet cutter - sheet material cutting
CNC machines - computer controlled mills, lathes etc
Rapid prototyper - essentially 3D printing with plastic
Printed circuit board milling"

“The fab lab program was started in the Media Lab at MIT, a collaboration between the Grassroots Invention Group and the Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, broadly exploring how the content of information relates to its physical representation, and how a community can be powered by technology at the grassroots level..
The fab lab concept also grew out of a popular class at MIT (MAS.863) named "How To Make (Almost) Anything”


100k Garages

"It could be a piece of furniture, a part for your new energy innovation, a piece of trim for a building, or an artistic wall hanging. You might want just one for a home project or you may be ready to make and sell your project. Big factories won't talk to you unless you want a thousand at a time. You might be able to make the parts yourself, but that requires an investment in tools and skill that you might not be ready for.

You may be surprised to learn, though, that there are several thousand shops all over the world with tools for digital fabrication (sometimes called CNC tools) that can make exactly what you want (how can replicating parts be that easy?). There's probably even one near you.
Some are regular businesses, some are part-timers, and some are small shops that have some spare production time: each has the capability to help you make all kinds of things.
You know what a 'Copy Center' is for getting printed pages and projects made, 100kGarages is like a virtual 3D copy center for getting real parts and projects made.
100Kgarages is your access to the network of these 'garages' that can make stuff for you (well we're just getting this thing started … but you can read more here on the big idea).
Your digital fabrication work will be done by a community of local workshops with digital tools for precisely cutting, machining, drilling, or sculpting the components of your project.”



"Fab@Home is a project dedicated to making and using fabbers - machines that can make almost anything, right on your desktop. This website provides everything you need to know in order to build or buy your own simple fabber, and to use it to print three dimensional objects. The hardware designs and software on this website are free and open-source. Once you have your own fabber, you can also download and print various items, try out new materials, or upload and share your own projects. Advanced users can modify and improve the fabber itself."

Design Library



“Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you're in the right area.
You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.
RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer introduced in the video on the right - a self-replicating machine.
This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn't even designed so that it can make itself.
So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €350).
That way it's accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world.
Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can use it to make another and give that one to a friend…
The RepRap project became widely known after a large press coverage in March 2005, though the idea goes back to a paper on the web written by Adrian Bowyer on 2 February 2004.”

RepRap (8 mins)
“This video introduces the RepRap self-replicating 3D printer.”

RepRap Mendel with Pololu Electronics
“This shows the RepRap Mendel 3D printer being driven by Pololu electronics. This has the advantage that the circuit boards needed are so simple that the RepRap machine may well be able to produce them itself.”


Future of Making Map

"Two future forces, one mostly social, one mostly technological, are intersecting to transform how goods, services, and experiences— the “stuff” of our world—will be designed, manufactured, and distributed over the next decade.

An emerging do-it-yourself culture of “makers” is boldly voiding warranties to tweak, hack, and customize the products they buy. And what they can’t purchase, they build from scratch.

Meanwhile, flexible manufacturing technologies on the horizon will change fabrication from massive and centralized to lightweight and ad hoc.

These trends sit atop a platform of grassroots economics—new market structures developing online that embody a shift from stores and sales to communities and connections."

“Inspired by Hackers, crafters, artisans and tinkerers who embody a 'maker mindset'.. immersed in the DIY culture, hacking code, soldering circuits, creating media, and even tending farms..

'do-it-yourself' as a social movement -> 'do-it-ourselves'

The maker culture will not necessarily replace traditional industry in the future, but they will be closely linked, sometimes cooperating, sometimes competing, but they will be blurring the boundaries between them.. “Success will occur when the two cultures are woven together in new and interesting ways”.

How to read the map..

Social and technological prhenomena driving the trends

  • Platforms for Sociability
  • Eco-motivation
  • Rise of the professional amateur
  • Access to tools
  • Open Source Everything
  • Quest for authenticity

Contrasting statements from 2008 & 2018

  • Citizen R&D: from R&D labs to R&D communities
  • Networked Artisans: from garage inventions to maker-meet-ups
  • Lightweight manufacturing: from centralised production to ad-hoc factories
  • Grassroot economies: from products to stories

Present day signals indicating trends to come

  • Images of projects/companies around the trends

Suggestions on how to interact

  • Citizen R&D: Create a how-to-guide on about something you do well
  • Networked Artisans: Join your local chapter
  • Lightweight manufacturing: Take an industrial arts class near you or submit your plans to
  • Grassroot economies: Submit a T-Shirt design to and see how it fares


Post-Industrial Design

“With the exception of very simple artifacts and elemental components, platforms supersede products. Many artifact forms can share a common platform, representing applications of the platform. Soon there may be few products. Just platforms and their applications.”

“Artifacts are static instances of an evolving design through which a design learns. A design thus has a lifecycle independent of, but in parallel to, the lifecycles of its instances. The intrinsic value of an instance of a design is quite tiny compared to the design itself as the embodiment of the collective knowledge -the genetic heritage- gathered through all its instances. Deliberate variant designs may be owned but primary designs -platforms- exist as a community resource evolved from the encoded contributed experience of their users.”

“Though often initiated by individuals, designs persist as social constructs. A successful design invites customization. Like a culture, a design that resists or has stopped evolving is obsolete. Dead.”

“By virtue of the dimensional limits resulting from the miniaturization of fabrication systems, Post-Industrial design favors modularity following a strategy of maximum diversity of function from a minimum diversity of parts and materials -Min-A-Max.”

“Post-industrial artifacts tend to exhibit the characteristic of perpetual demountability, leading to ready adaptive reuse, repairability, upgradeability, and recyclability. By extension, they compartmentalize failure and obsolescence to discrete demountable components. A large Post-Industrial artifact can potentially live for as long as its platform can evolve -potentially forever.”

“An effective design anticipates a lifecycle hierarchy defined by direct reuse, adaptive-reuse, upcycling, recycling, biodegradeability, and finally ultimate waste. Materials are chosen with this lifescycle in mind, thus favoring designs that use -and venerate- materials in simple unadulterated forms wherever possible. Paint and glue are sins.”


Homebrew Industrial Revolution

“Neighborhood workshops, desktop manufacturing, household micro-enterprises and online horizontal networks of peer producers will come to dominate the informal economy that must arise as the state-allied formal economy stagnates and decays.”

The latest research study from Centre for a Stateless Society (C4SS) Research Associate Kevin Carson


Open Source Software vs Open Source Hardware

Tere Vaden, 13.11.09

Open Source Software
Open Source Hardware
Evolutive aspects

- Rapid production of different versions
- production of versions takes considerable time & resources

- Rapid pruning of mistakes & bad versions
- testing takes time & resources

- robustness: can be forked at will, always already several competing versions

- forking takes time & resources

- copies of a version are nearly perfect
- copies as good as the producer of the copy

- What is the time-frame of a typical revision cycle?!?
- slower, can this be quantified?

- self-organisation with Internet tools
- self-organisation, but real world resources needed

Linus' Law: "Given enough eyeballs, are bugs are shallow"
- several developers working in parallel on same code
- only a limited number of developers can work on a version, production of parallel versions costly

- the raw material is free or owned by the developers
- raw material comes with a price, may even be scarce

- the tools of production are free or owned by the developers
- tools come with a price, may even be scarce

- the end product works as new raw material
- end product may be wasted, or otherwise removed from the productive cycle

- virtual organisation, no production space needed
- real production space needed, real world travel necessary

~Open Source Software ~Open Source Hardware
Evolutive aspects
Rapid production of different versions Production of versions takes considerable time & resources
Rapid pruning of mistakes & bad versions  Testing takes time & resources
  Robustness: can be forked at will, always already several competing versions  forking takes time & resources
Copies of a version are nearly perfect Copies as good as the producer of the copy
What is the time-frame of a typical revision cycle?!?  Slower, can this be quantified?
Self-organisation with Internet tools Self-organisation, but real world resources needed
 Linus' Law: "Given enough eyeballs, are bugs are shallow" /n - several developers working in parallel on same code Only a limited number of developers can work on a version, /n production of parallel versions costly
 The raw material is free or owned by the developers  Raw material comes with a price, may even be scarce
  The tools of production are free or owned by the developers Tools come with a price, may even be scarce
The end product works as new raw material End product may be wasted, or otherwise removed from the productive cycle
Virtual organisation, no production space needed Real production space needed, real world travel necessary


References & Blogs

Writings on Open Source Hardware


P2P Foundation: Flexible Manufacturing & the Maker Movement

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