Exploring the impact of Maker initiatives on cities and regions with a research through design approach
During the last decades, economic, social and technological phenomena have influenced the role, importance and perception of cities and regions. Cities and rural areas are increasingly divided because of manufacturing and its globalisation; digital technologies in manufacturing are introducing more automation in factories, reducing thus the workforce and aggravating these phenomena. But at the same time, the Maker Movement connects these two opposites by adopting such digital technologies with an open approach, enabling a distributed manufacturing ecosystem based on individuals and communities such as Fab Labs, Makerspaces and Hackerspaces that work locally but that are connected globally. How can we measure the impact of Maker initiatives over cities and regions? This article addresses this issue with a research through design strategy that connects both design research and practice focusing on a) a theoretical context that connects peer production, manufacturing and cities and regions, b) a model for measuring Maker initiatives and their impact on cities and regions and c) a tool for the visualization and exploration of such impact. In this way designers, makers and researchers can actively participate in intentionally building the future of the Maker Movement in cities and regions instead of only analysing its present and past.
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