Open design & manufacturing in the platform economy
Location Bowland North Seminar Room 23
Date and Start Time 27 Jul, 2018 at 16:00
Sessions 1


  • Raúl Tabarés (Tecnalia) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Vasilis Niaros (P2P Foundation), Massimo Menichelli (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia, Fab City Research Lab)

Short abstract

Open design and manufacturing paradigms have been recently embraced for promoting technological appropriation as well as enablers for transforming traditional fabrication. In this panel we explore the role that these concepts can have in a post-industrial society.

Long abstract

With the popularization of the Web 2.0 paradigm, digital platforms have become cultural intermediaries in a growing technology mediation environment that has been framed by various scholars as "platform economy". This recent phenomenon has favored the establishment of different "black box" systems that impede us from discovering the inner workings of these new socio-technological brokers.

Different self-organized communities and grassroots initiatives have simultaneously appeared thanks to the Internet and the emergence of new makerspaces that have a subset of digital fabrication tools. These groups promote citizen empowerment through technological appropriation and rely on digital commons such as open designs, software and knowledge. In this sense, especially relevant has been the emergence of new discourses aligned with these non-proprietary technologies like open design and manufacturing, which are conceived to promote a radical change in the fabrication towards a more sustainable relationship between production processes and goods.

How can digital platforms be designed in order to facilitate encounters between people, things and environments within open design & manufacturing? How can we understand the impact of such digital platforms on society? In this panel we would like to invite authors to analyze the emergence of these phenomena and critically examine the opportunities, contradictions, challenges and tensions that this combination of new tools and mindsets bring for technological appropriation in a post-industrial society. We welcome submissions that can explore alternative paths for R&D systems and innovation policies but also for reconfiguring design and production processes.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Governing crowd-based innovations: sociotechnical reconfiguration through institutional work

Author: Eefje Cuppen (Delft University of Technology) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Crowd-based innovations (CBIs) (e.g. sharing platforms, citizen science etc) often occur in the context of well-established, institutional and governance structures and practices. We develop a framework for understanding how institutional work around CBIs reshapes sociotechnical configurations.

Long abstract

The "crowd" increasingly seems to be key for innovation in all kind of sectors, partly enabled by ICT developments. Initiatives can be found around the crowdsourcing of problemsolving and data collection (e.g. apps and sensors to measure traffic, air or water quality), crowdfunding as a business model (including renewable energy), open platforms (where supply and demand meet each other), or the sharing economy (for example, houses or cars). Such initiatives provide many opportunities for innovations in socio-technical systems, but also significant challenges because they often occur in the context of traditional, well-established, institutional and governance structures and practices. The gap between these traditional structures and radically new initiatives creates tension. Existing rules, standards and practices are challenged, which raises questions about how quality, legitimacy, efficiency and supervision can be safeguarded in crowd-based innovations. In this paper we develop a framework for conceptualizing sociotechnical reconfiguration through the institutional work performed by actors, both engaged in and confronted by CBIs. For this, we draw on the model of institutional entrepreneurship by Battilana et al. (2009), expanded with strategies and responses of other actors in the field, for instance as facilitators or "institutional defenders" (Levy & Scully, 007). We empirically illustrate the framework with the examples of AirBNB, and a platform for peer-to-peer energy transactions.

Citizen participation in open design for sustainable energy system

Authors: Jin Hee Park (Dongguk University) email
Dong Kwang Kim (Korea University) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper explores how technological appropriation and open design could be made by community grassroots initiatives and what hinders those citizen participations. The living lab experiment with mini-PV plant in Seoul shows that PV plant could be redesigned by citizen participation, which might enhance social acceptance of solar energy.

Long abstract

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster appeared in Korea grassroots movements for energy transition to renewable energy system. Many citizen groups have been involved at first in activites of energy savings for reduction of nuclear power plants. The Seongadegol Saramdl, a community citizen initiative, stand at forefront of the movement and organized a living lab experiment with mini-PV plant funded by the national energy research institute. As members of initiative thoght that self-energy production was more important than energy savings, they tried to find a technical solution for self-energy production. While mini-PV plants were cost-benefit and available in market, there were some technical and economical limits for popular using. So the living lab was intended to design a new mni-PV plant by considering ideas of residents. A kind of open design process was structured and various stakeholders including residents were engaged in the project.

During the project residents had opportunities to suggest not only technical solutions of PV plant, but also financial solutions, which were not considered by engineers and public officials. A modified design of PV plant appeared more adaptable and comfortable to installation and using. The newly developed solar loan model could reduce financial burden on resident side and enhance social acceptance of solar energy. Although the project provides evidences of citizen knowledge production, it reveals also institutional and cultural hindernesses which made the potential of citizen participation unrealized.

We will discuss about the possibility of open design by citizen participation and problems to solve for promoting citizen engagement.

Human agency in post-automation: an analysis into the appropriation of digital design and fabrication technologies by crafters and coders in non-industrial settings

Authors: Cian O'Donovan (University of Sussex) email
Adrian Smith (University of Sussex) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper examines how non-industrial digital fabrication activities are opening up 'automation' technologies to 'post-automation' appropriations. We assess evidence for sociotechnical relations based in care for other people and materials, and discuss implications for human agency.

Long abstract

Recent transformations of traditional production logics and processes into non-industrial settings such as makerspaces have been accompanied by the appropriation of tools such CAD/CAM, 3D printers, laser cutters and routers. Computer-controlled technologies that once deskilled and damaged manufacturing worker communities are now celebrated by enthusiasts as providing new skills and users with new capacities for human development. In this paper, we examine how non-industrial digital fabrication activities are opening up ostensibly 'automation' technologies (or not) to what we label post-automation appropriations. In these settings we seek evidence for sociotechnical relations based in care for other people, for materials, and for the consequences of manufacture, good and bad and ask what implications for human agency?

Q methodology is used to appraise differences in subjective user-experiences of individuals in two groups; 'crafters' who use digital technologies from a position rooted in working with materials, and 'coders' who come to digital fabrication from the realm of software and programming. The paper contributes a robust range of experience viewpoints that inform the future development of digital fabrication technologies and debates about automation, well-being and human development. Despite fears of automation threatening jobs and sustainability, we find evidence of the opening-up of technologically circumscribed human agency at the very sites of technological diffusion where we might most expect freedoms to be diminished. However, attention is drawn to limitations of this agency across a number of life and work domains and implications discussed.

Open manufacturing as an alternative path for Industry 4.0

Author: Raúl Tabarés (Tecnalia) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

The rising of "Industry 4.0" paradigm in Europe has posed different challenges that remain unsolved in the way to a post-industrial society. In this sense, open manufacturing emerges as an alternative enabler for this transition that can meet the gap that a new industrial revolution can create.

Long abstract

From 2010 there is a growing popularity of the "Industry 4.0" paradigm in Europe. This new term has stressed the need of industry digitization in order to overcome the challenges that a new production ecosystem is imposing on current factories. Moreover, the EC has also pushed forward a strategic agenda aimed to promote public-private partnerships combined with national programs that can meet the particularities of the different industrial regions in Europe.

But this transition has different challenges ahead that remain unsolved like the adoption of new business models, the availability of great investment funds for SMEĀ“s and the shortage of skilled workforce able to lead this transition in different organizations.

At the same time, we are witnessing how an emerging industry is also rising deeply rooted in the values of the maker movement. The expiration of a set of patents in the Digital Fabrication and the Internet of Things, as well as the democratization of open design has made possible a new wave of innovation coming from Fab Labs, Makerspaces, Hackerspaces and the like where Academia, Industry, Institutions and Society as a whole can develop collaborative projects outside the usual pathways.

In this contribution we would like to explore the role of open manufacturing as an alternative enabler for the transition to the Industry 4.0 paradigm. We claim that there is also a need to invest in citizenship throughout these self-organized spaces in order to overcome the digital divide that this new paradigm will probably create in society.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.