DiDIY, from Agricultural Extension to Global Villages and Social Makers

Last month I have presented a DiDIY paper, written with Wouter Tebbens, at the SURAP conference on Sustainability of Rural Areas in Practice.

The paper, which will be published with the conference proceedings, is about Digital DIY (DiDIY) for Sustainability of Rural Areas, and is summarized in the slides at the bottom of this page. In general, the conference has been a great occasion to discover even more "languages", context and discourses in which Digital DIY should be present and/or be studied, or at least considered, more systematically.

In fact, when it comes to agriculture and rural sustainability in general,  DiDIY seems to be one more type of what is formally called "agricultural extension" and is usually defined (from Wikipedia) as:

"application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education"

The International Food Policy Research Institute states that agricultural extension "plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth".

In the paper summarized below, we argue just that Digital DIY can contribute to those goals, in a bottom-up, community-driven manner that, in many cases, is more sustainable, more efficient and more cost-effective than centralized solutions based on closed products, services and monolithic development plans. We look forward to receive feedback on this position from all stakeholders in agriculture extension and rural/agricultural support policies in general, as well as from all DIY-ers already applying Digital DIY products and techniques in their farms and gardens.

Global Villages and Social Makers

The other half of the title of this post refers to the fact that, on my way back from Nitra, I have participated in Wien to a meeting of Global Villages and a workshop on the WikiHouse, which higlighted its main strengths (simplicity!) and (current) limits, like cost and very bare layout. In summary, two days of very interesting conversations on (from my point of view) the potential and limits of both specific projects, and of DiDIY in general. The most interesting concept, and possibly the closest to the overall scope of the DiDIY project, is that of "social makers" proposed by F. Nahrada of Global Villages: makers, that is, whose explicit goal is to remake, by DiDIY and similar technologies, their whole community, not just what they personally need for themselves. Worth more study in the future, doesn't it?

Besides the whole activity of Global Villages, topics and reports that we look forward to link (or host!) from here soon include:

  • Oliver Roman's Art Factory, who hosted the meetings and whose activities may be the topic of a whole other post about DiDIY in sculpture and landscaping
  • the "City of Workshops" project: a network of fablabs, repair shops and similar DIY-friendly activities all integrated in one neighborhood (see "social makers" above...)
  • the Tabak Fabrik in Linz (too many things to fit in one sentence)

Digital DIY (DiDIY) for Sustainability of Rural Areas