A fruitful day for DiDIY in Thessaloniki

Febryary 3rd, 2016, that is the day before our first 2016 Project Meeting was a very busy day. We had four different meetings with different groups and organizations who, for one reason or another, may have some interest in greater diffusion of Digital DIY.

The day started with a visit to Oecon Group, a Business Development Consulting firm that also works with startups, and had organized the Thessaloniki event of the Startup Europe Week in the same days of our meeting. At Oecon, we've discussed how a broader diffusion of DiDIY would create a social and cultural environment more favourable (also) for startups. An environment, that is, that would create more occasions, for more people, to acquire and develop the skills and relationships that are prerequisites to the launch and success of many types of startups.

Later in the morning,  an updated version of our "Introduction to DiDIY" talk took place, organized by professors Eleni Papadoupoulou and Ioannis Stamelos, at the School of Spatial Planning and Development of the Aristotle University. During that moment we discussed, among other things:

  • usage of DiDIY open maps and mapping communities as OpenStreetMap by rural communities
  • the possibilities, for the same communities, to build through DiDIY some of the farming machines they need, and the related services
  • other issues mentioned in our "awareness report". Especially the need, for makers but above all for society as a whole, to rethink concepts like "product liability" and understand the long term consequences of such changes

An afternoon with makers

After lunch, we first meet the internal Makers Society of our host, the American College of Thessaloniki. Several interesting things  are happening there, which deserved their own post.

The meeting tour ended at TechMinistry, a space "dedicated to creative software and hardware hacking in Thessaloniki".  We've learned that, among other things, some TechMinistry members are working with a local troupe to use DiDIY in the scenography for a new play. Even at TechMinistry, however, most of the (great!) discussion focused on two things:

  • ethical positive and negative consequences of DiDIY (a hot topic even at the other Makers Club!): what changes when one's DiDIY activity may, even unintentionally, harm others?
  • legal and bureacratic barriers to DiDIY and DiDIY promotion, which lead us directly to...

The final question: which laws and regulations hinder DiDIY?

This is a topic that came up primarily in the Oecon and TechMinistry meetings, but also in other moments of the day. Current regulations, from product liability norms to certification requirements, are not friendly to DiDIY. Some new regulation is surely needed (would you enjoy somebody else's badly assembled drones flying over your head?), but it must allow DiDIY to florish. That is why one of the final deliverables of our project will be the production of guidelines to support both education and policy making on DiDIY. In order to produce such documents, however, we need the names of all the norms, laws, etc.. that make makers life harder than it should be, in every European country.

This is why we formally asked to our friends at TechMinistry, and now repeat the same request not only to everybody else we met in Thessaloniki, but to makers all over Europe:

"please send us a list with the names of all the rules that force makers in your Country to bear expenses and bureaucratic overloads that were conceived when only big companies, with lots of money and full time lawyers, could afford manufacturing, and when manufacturing was synonim of "mass production"

We need to list all these rules to analyse them and produce sensible guidelines for European lawmakers on when and how to update them. We need the answers, in each country, to questions like (but you are welcome to suggest more!):

  • What are the costs and procedures to follow to have a fablab fully compliant with your local safety rules?
  • What are the numbers and names of the laws/norms/regulations that contain or validate those rules?
  • What are the rules (cost, procedures, certifications...) to follow when one wants to transform something produced with DiDIY for personal use into a product that may be legally sold to others, even only on demand?

Practically everybody we talked with in Thessaloniki that day agreed that studying the answers to these questions may be one of the most interesting and relevant part of our project. Our friends at TechMinistry may be the first ones to provide the Greek part of those answers, but we need them from every European country. Please spread the word!