Critical Maker Culture
A potentially new path to strengthening social self-determination is currently emerging through hacker- and maker communities, in which citizens participate directly in the development and production of new technical artefacts. The democratisation of technology in a globally connected open-source network makes evident an increasing decentralisation of power structures and production, making possible the experimentation with new forms of collaboration – but under what conditions can this democratic potential unfold, and democracy for whom? A central question is therefore in which way these novel structures can provide an access to technologies on a base of diversity and inclusion.
This research group conducted research at the Weizenbaum Institute from 2017 to 2022. In the newly launched research program, research will henceforth be organised in 16 research groups. These will be flanked and supported by the new Weizenbaum Digital Science Center.
The term ‘maker movement’ describes a decentralised network of producers who engage into a ‘glocal’ development of new systems and artefacts through digital production possibilities such as open-source code and rapid prototyping. In many cases, the production takes place in a meshwork of informal and temporary labs that operate as open eco-systems of actors and resources.
Open lab structures
The democratisation of technology in a globally connected network makes evident an increasing decentralisation of power structures and production, making possible the experimentation with new forms of collaboration – but under what conditions can this democratic potential unfold, and democracy for who? A central question is therefore in which way these open lab structures in their diverse forms – be it as urban fabrication labs, makerspaces, hacker collectives or think/do-tanks – can provide an access to technologies on/and a base of diversity and inclusion. With a focus on the topic-areas of gender, sustainability and international development, the research group investigated the question of whether the promises of democratic technologies be fulfilled and thus help to achieve a greater accessibility and multiplicity.
These questions were empirically examined and put into an international dialogue in order to locate overarching tendencies and challenges. In addition, the practice-based method of ‘critical making’ was employed to create own design experiments and interventions as contributions to the discourse, for instance in the form of prototypes, as well as through performances and exhibitions.