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Understanding Collective Awareness Platforms with the Maker Movement

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - MAKE-IT (Understanding Collective Awareness Platforms with the Maker Movement)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-01-31

Context
The powerful tools provided by ICT software and hardware are completely changing the way we make tangible as well as intangible objects. Today, virtually everybody on the planet with access to the Internet can make digital content composed of virtual ‘bits’ and make it available to everyone else instantly, no matter who they are or where they live. As a shorthand term, this move from bits to atoms is being called the maker movement. Makers increasingly make use of a range of Collective Awareness Platforms (CAPs).

MAKE-IT objectives

The overall objective of the MAKE-IT project is to understand the role of CAPs in how the maker movement has grown and operates.
MAKE-IT undertakes multidisciplinary research into the role and impact of CAPs approaches on the maker movement. The research on the role of CAPs is specifically focused on three analytical pillars:
1. Organisation and governances.
2. Peer and collaborative activities and behaviours.
3. Value creation and impact.
One of the first activities of MAKE-IT was the development of a Conceptual and Methodological Framework, providing important input and groundwork for the progress that followed, and to function as a flexible conceptual and analytical tool for the research and innovation activities. (WP2)

WP3 conducted ten in depth case evaluations of maker initiatives.

Taking the starting point of the technologies being used in the Maker Movement, we have conducted a screening and mapping of both ICT and CAPs-related technologies, as well as maker production technologies and their interplay. An Interactive Technology Radar was developed (WP5). The Technology Radar facilitates easier access to useful tools for makers and Fab Labs and facilitates knowledge sharing.

The case studies and technology radar have led to a long-list of potential improvements and new implementations of CAPs technologies. based on experiences at the largest maker event in Europe we have identifed and described our chosen CAPs technology enhancement: “Building spheres of participation” (WP4). The Building spheres of participation (BSOP) tool facilitates connections between standholders and visitors during maker exhibitions.

The knowledge transfer workshops (WP4) were related to the key topics Maker initiatives are struggling with.

WP6 brought together the results from the various WPs and extracted scientific findings, as well as recommendations for each stakeholder.

WP7 produced several publications (conference papers, journal articles, a book) and several data visualisations and related software that can lead to further exploitation of results.
The MAKE-IT project advances the state-of-the-art in four main ways:

1) Extending CAPs into a new domain
Existing:
i) Social networking
ii) Direct contact with the environment through the Internet of Things, i.e. electronic tags embedded in everything, potentially providing pervasive sensory awareness and capabilities, as well as serious risks to our privacy and intellectual property
iii) The collaborative production of knowledge, such as Wikipedia.
The MAKE-IT project adds a fourth major trend to this repertoire, i.e. not only the collaborative production of knowledge and other forms of intangible content, but also the collaborative production and consumption of tangible forms of physical objects, as currently being realized by the burgeoning makers movement.

2) In-depth overview of the European Maker movement anno 2017
We have investigated the interplay between CAPs approaches and the maker movement using the three earlier mentioned analytical pillars. In two main ways we have analysed making initiatives and gone further than previous studies in developing and describing the European Maker movement. First, our WP3 in-depth case analyses of ten maker initiatives acrossEurope provides a rich and unique assessment of the characteristics, strengths and challenges pertaining to today’s makers. Second in WP2, we carried out a quali-quantitative investigation of the Maker movement in Europe.

3) Innovation action research
Innovation action research is new methodological approach designed and undertaken whereby, in addition to extracting knowledge for research purposes, we also put knowledge back into the maker and CAPs communities through the project’s strong collaborative work with maker initiatives. Additionally, we have implemented a series of CAPs technology enhancements to provide new directions and practical recommendations for the chosen cases.

4) Scientfic research and contribution to theory
Abstracting beyond the specifc context of the MAKE-IT project, we contribute to scientifc debate and theory surrounding CAPs influence on organizational, peer collaboration and impact-related topics, as well as on genderequal participation.

Impact
In line with our three analytical pillars MAKE-IT has impact in several important ways. First, it advances and broadens the scientifc and theoretical knowledge base about the organisation and governance of online maker communities. Second, it advances our understanding of drivers and barriers of peer and collaborative activities and behaviours of maker communities in Europe. To date, and despite the fast growth of maker communities across the globe, the scientifc, empirical, but also structured practical knowledge on maker communities is very scarce. In fact, very little is known about the consequences maker communities have for practice, society and policy. The acquired knowledge from this project has therefore been translated in state of the art practical knowledge for the Maker movement and policy makers. Third, and importantly, MAKE-IT actually developed and activated new ways in which maker communities using CAPs create and capture social, economic, and environmental value for Europe. By taking a multidisciplinary approach, by using open and diverse channels to disseminate our knowledge and by including and activating actual maker communities from different parts of Europe, MAKE-IT has been able to maximise its impact and ensure this has a lasting positive effect, beyond the end of the project.
The three analytical pillars of MAKE-IT