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Digital Social Innovation (DSI) Fair 2017: When online meets offline

We live in a digital era. Almost everyone is constantly connected to the World Wide Web and, thus, to other individuals worldwide. At the Digital Social Innovation Fair 2017 in Rome social innovators, public officials and researchers discussed how this network effect can be used to foster sustainability and social innovation. Janosch Sbeih and Marthe Zirngiebl from the Social Research Centre Dortmund facilitated a discussion around MAKE-IT’s sustainability scenarios for the Maker Movement.


It seems that fairs are an omnipresent component of the MAKE-IT project. Obviously, Maker Fairs are one of the most important opportunities for makers worldwide to showcase their project to a large community and to meet fellow makers, potential investors and consumers in an offline environment. Yet, MAKE-IT through its transdisciplinary approach is not only part of the Maker Movement, but as the CAPS project MAKE-IT, it has one foot in the world of social innovation as well. Just like makers, social innovators display their ideas and meet other like-minded individuals at these fairs.
One of these fairs is the Digital Social Innovation Fair, which took place on the 1st and 2nd February in the pre-digital historic buildings of the Protomoteca hall (Campidoglio) in Rome. The MAKE-IT consortium was well represented. The sfs researchers Marthe Zirngiebl and Janosch Sbeih prepared a session for one of the interactive workshops.

Tomas Diez from the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) gave a comprehensive overview of the Maker Movement’s vast spread including the rise of fab cities and the opportunities of the smart citizen project in his keynote. And last but not least Jeremy Millard from the Danish Technological Institute (DTI) emphasized in his keynote how acknowledging nature as a fifth additional actor to the quadruple helix model can inform the design of social organisations and substantially alter visions of future societies.

On day two of the DSI Fair 2017, Janosch Sbeih presented MAKE-IT’s preliminary results during a workshop called "Collaborative Making, Art and Creativity". Since many of the other presenters and people attending the workshop are quite active in the Maker Movement, Janosch Sbeih and Marthe Zirngiel used the opportunity to discuss the question of what the Maker Movement needs to sustainably tackle societal challenges such as environmental degradation, social inclusion, and employment.

The audience agreed that a lot of makers pursue projects that have the potential to tackle these challenges sustainably. While they do not lack creativity, ideas and a sense of societal responsibility, a large lack of public recognition can be seen today. This in turn makes it more difficult for initiatives to receive funding or guide policy in a favourable direction. So one consequent action to be pursued by the Maker Movement would be to voice their values and to show their activities to a wider public. Hence, this discussion as well as the other ideas and projects exhibited at the DSI Fair 2017 provide valuable insights for MAKE-IT’s sustainability scenarios for the Maker Movement. To collect further input, the results of the discussion are presented here and will remain open for further comments by the online community.




MAKE-IT has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon2020 research and innovation programme. Involved project partners are: TNO (Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research), DTI (Danish Technological Institute), ZSI (Centre for Social Innovation Vienna), IAAC (FabLab Barcelona, The Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia), FLZ (FabLab Zagreb), HLW (Happylab Gmbh Vienna), AHHAA (Science Centre AHHAA), CIR (Create it Real ApS) and the Social Research Centre of TU Dortmund University.