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Where the Maker Movement is heading towards

Bastian Pelka and Janosch Sbeih from the Social Research Centre Dortmund (TU Dortmund University – sfs) met in Barcelona with FabLab managers, Maker Faire organizers, social innovation researchers, business strategy experts, technology developers and other experts from the MAKE-IT consortium to refine their development of future scenarios for the Maker Movement.


On 21st June, sfs researchers Bastian Pelka and Janosch Sbeih discussed preliminary findings of MAKE-IT’s research with experts from research and active makers from the MAKE-IT consortium. The objective of the workshop was to gather qualitative comments on the future development of the Maker Movement. Base of their discussion were three scenarios. They illustrate different pathways of the future development of the Maker Movement and the use of maker technologies within society.

In the first scenario, the Maker Movement is absorbed by public learning spaces. Schools, libraries, museums and other publicly financed spaces are installing makerspaces, where visitors can use digital fabrication tools and methodologies. There is a societal uptake of the “making” attitude, but this is influenced by attitudes, objectives and rules from the public spaces. “Making” is understood as an aspect of cultural techniques.

In the second scenario, the Maker Movement establishes open source ethics into wider society by developing into a commons-based, decentralized peer-to-peer manufacturing economy. Prevalent ideas and practices in society change from individualistic to cooperative attitudes; complementary currency models foster an open production and distribution of goods without monetary exchange and a large part of society is able to meet an increasing portion of their material needs without formal employment.

The third scenario illustrates the effects of what happens when the Maker Movement is absorbed by the established industry. Makerspaces become corporate research and development departments and industry partners benefit from the spirit and grass-roots community elements of the Maker Movement. The Makers financial security is significantly increased in this scenario and management and design approaches are influenced by the maker culture, but the open sharing of freely made designs largely disappears into less visible subcultures.

The MAKE-IT experts from research and practice refined these scenarios through their comments on likely pathways in the different directions and recommendations for various stakeholders from society how to shape and react to the different scenarios. Stay tuned to the MAKE-IT blog to read the upcoming analyses and summaries of discussions from this workshop.

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.