The Maker Movement: Innovating Traditional Crafts or Colonizing Artisans?

Business & Innovation
re:publica 2015

Short thesis: 

Based on the research and collaboration experiences of the panelists, it seems that in developed countries traditional handicraft and maker cultures are complimenting each other to breath new life and innovation into established traditions. However, in developing countries this seems to be different: Although informal sector activities often overlap with do-it-yourself culture, many “Maker” initiatives have ignored existing grassroots innovators. Gesche Joost, Anna Waldman-Brown and Juliet Wanyiri will discuss what can be learned from working collaborations and how in future makers and artisans can better collaborate.

Description: 

The global “Maker Movement” is often associated with the trend toward the democratization of technology by means of do-it-yourself culture, open-source sharing, and small scale manufacturing.

Based on the research and collaboration experiences of the panelists, it seems that in developed countries traditional handicraft and maker cultures are complimenting each other to breath new life and innovation into established traditions. The area of electronics textiles provides a vivid example of how traditional techniques such as knitting, weaving or embroidery can be updated by the maker movement: hobbyists hack their knitting machines with custom-made Arduino boards, and wearable controllers such as the Lilypad together with craft description enable enthusiasts to construct their own wearable devices. Traditional craft such as gold embroidery is rediscovered as a technique to make electric connections.

However, in developing countries this seems to be different: Although informal sector activities often overlap with do-it-yourself culture, many “Maker” initiatives have ignored existing grassroots innovators. Are traditional artisans being colonized by maker initiatives or do we see a revival of traditional culture?

The panel will discuss what can be learned from working collaborations and how in future makers and artisans can better collaborate.

 

This session is part of the GIG programme.

STG-5
Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 12:30 to 13:30
English
Discussion
Intermediate