The impact of sharing platforms on collaborative design development during emergencies: the case of COVID-19




The COVID-19 outbreak resulted in an emergency of projects developed, shared and produced by makers, fablabs and open source enthusiasts. These projects are often released in design sharing platforms, e.g. Thingiverse, Github and Instructables, under open source licenses. It is often argued that the release of such projects holds potential for enhancing collaboration, continuous development and design dissemination. These arguments have been subject of recent studies on the structure of maker/Open Design communities and sharing platforms. This study aims to contribute to the on-going debate on the potentialities of such communities. We adopt an explorative approach to (i) identify the influence of the COVID-19 outbreak on the activity volume of Thingiverse, the object of our study, (ii) analyze the designs metadata and its network patterns, and (iii) identify interaction patterns based on real-world localities. Based on our findings we comment on the importance of the maker/Open Design communities to tackle critical situations and highlight the current limitations for a wider dissemination of open source designs. Our findings may contribute to build better tools for designers and enthusiasts of the maker/open culture as well as to studies on collaborative development.






Reflections on the design processes