Next month will see the next edition of the SHiFT (“social and human ideas for technology”) conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The theme is Do It Yourself (DIY). Last week I sent in my proposal, for a talk that tries to combine the sweeping impact of digitization with the wider context of a fully connected world and the challenges it faces. The title is Maker Households.
Maker Households – Abstract
The internet, reaching into every corner of human society, has hyperconnected individuals globally. It also has made it very visible that we live in a finite world, a closed system of diminishing physical resources. The hyperconnnectedness means an increasing interdependency that causes vulnerabilities as well as open access to an abundance of ideas, knowledge and human creativity.
Local resilience is needed to cope with finite resources and the fall-out of global interdependency. The digitization of everything and being connected to all of human knowledge and creativity are the means to do that. Local resilience based on full digitization and global connectedness means we will be living as Maker Households.
Below is a general outline of the story, to give you an idea of what I intend to discuss.
Scarcity and vulnerability
The interdependency that is the result of our internet-connected world brings with it a vulnerability. A bank falling over in NY causes immediate responses all over the globe. False information can spread faster than counter-acting measures can be activated. Just in time world wide logistical systems are highly efficient but leave no margin for error. At the same time our world is throwing vast challenges our way: growing scarcity of all physical resources and a changing climate. This will cause disruptions in multiple places, causing ripples throughout our hyperconnected societies. While internet is build for robustness our new connectedness is the source of new vulnerabilities because of that robustness.
Local resilience
We need local resilience to deal with both those vulnerabilities as well as the scarcity of resources of our finite world. Local resilience helps contain the local effects of far away events that propagate through the global network. Local resilience makes use of the global network to leverage scarcer local resources with abundant knowledge. That resilience can be found in Maker Households rooted in local community.
Abundant digitization
The interdependency that is the result of our internet-connected world also brings with it a lot of potential. We now can see that ideas, knowledge and creativity are truly abundant and that the internet is our access to that abundance.
The digitization of almost everything, books, designs, discussions, products, has two important effects. One is that transportation through the network (internet) is instant and costless. Two is that digitization enables us to do at home a myriad of things that you couldn’t do before without a significant barrier to entry.
Maker Households
Maker Households use global connectedness to access needed knowledge and ideas and use digitization to then create what they need locally and by themselves. They then feed back their experience, adaptations, new ideas and modificiations into the network again.
In Maker Households the notions of personal production (FabLab), Open Data, Open Design, Creative Commons, the social web, Internet of Things, community building and easy group forming, network visualization, information literacy, Open Source and Favela Chic, all come together. In Maker Households this is being applied to creating production machines, food, energy, local sourcing, urban farming, and arts. Maker Households are the realization of networked DIY.
You are already on your way to Maker Households
Ever used a recipe from the internet? Do you use a digital camera that commoditized functionality previously only available to professionals? Do you own a phone that comes with internet, GPS, motion sensors, and compass? Ever used open source software to write or draw anything? Ever co-created something or organized a bottom-up event? You are already showing signs that make up Maker Households.
Is this making sense to you? Does this sound like a worthwile or exciting story to explore? Feedback is appreciated.

2 reactions on “Maker Households – My Proposal for SHiFT

  1. It definitely makes sense and it is one of the ways that the internet migt take to ‘really’ transform society (right now it only transforms some of us…).

  2. Hi Ton, this sounds great. Maybe I should book my flights?
    Would be good to see lots of illustrations of both the pitfalls and upsides of the interconnectedness. eg that TBL vid you posted a few days on mapping Haiti struck me as amazing positive example of what people can make, instead of just helplessly watching the news.

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