case study

Digital Artisans: reshaping craftmen's work through Digital Do-It-Yourself

A week ago I have been invited to a panel at the inauguration of MakerLand: a retail store in a shopping mall in Monza, Italy. This initiative appears rather peculiar considering its main partners: Talent Garden (a 4 years old company managing co-working spaces in Italy and quickly expanding in Europe), and the Italian subsidiary of Auchan (a French international retail group).

Design-at-home viruses?

When the spread of cheap micro-computers made computing accessible to a wide range of people, there was an outpouring of creativity - no longer did one have to belong to one of the 'priesthoods' that cared for the big and expensive lumps of computing power. For example, the era of a new form of mass entertainment - the computer game - arrived, powered (at least initially) by creative individuals. However creativity is notoriously unbounded, and it also ushered in the era of computer viruses.

The Threats of Dangerous Information

Digital Do It Yourself (DiDIY) techniques allow people, not necessarily specialised in the art, to reproduce complex objects with relative ease and low cost. DigitalDIY brings together the physical and the digital realm such as in 3D printers and scanners or networks of sensors and actuators (the "Internet of Things", IoT). This provides tremendous benefits for society at large in various ways:

Design around Digital DIY

Amateurs committed to self-production (i.e. Do-It-Yourself or, simply, DIY) are reshaping the relationship between production and consumption. The spreading of this trend suggests scenarios in which non-professional people are, or will be, able to create artefacts. The socio-cultural changes fostered by the development of open-source and digital technologies have introduced a significant shift towards the revival of making and crafting, thus fostering creativity, sustainability and customization.

What next in 3D technology: from formal design towards descriptive representation

Low bandwidth technologies favoured sparse, formal representations of the real world: from musical notation, to line plans of buildings. With increasing storage and computing power, these will be supplanted by more detailed, "descriptive", representations that are beyond human power to directly produce and understand.