Something about the social perception of DiDIY...

  • Posted on: 9 June 2015
  • By: lmari

While the term “digital do it yourself” has been proposed by ourselves – and we call it DiDIY for short –, the concept is surely not new. But what is the social perception of DiDIY? The answer is not obvious. For example, recently I had a conversation with a social scientist about the basics of our Project who, in replying to my hypothesis on the growing importance of collaboration in DiDIY, started emphasizing “the selfishness of DiDIYers”. And observing my surprise, he noted: “Well, DiDIY is about self service, isn’t it?”. No, DiDIY is not about self service. So: what do persons actually think of DiDIY? and of DiDIYers?

An effective dissemination must take into account presuppositions, expectations, even stereotypes and misunderstandings of the intended receivers. That’s why we decided, in this early stage of the Project, to acquire some information on our subject with a simple exploratory survey, addressed in particular to high school (and partly university) students. At the moment some 200 of them replied, and even though the presentation of the questionnaire has been made in the context of classes or workshops on creativity or the role of technology in innovation (so that some bias may be expected in favour of DiDIY...), the results are already interesting.

In order to profile the competences of the responders, we asked about the use of some significant technological tools:

I have used sometimes or I use regularly... (% of total responders)

hardware and software systems to produce digital audio / video:


software systems to create and manage websites:


prototyping boards (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc):


3D scanners and printers:


The tools that more explicitly mix hardware and software (what we have called the “Atoms-Bit Convergence” ABC), such as Arduino boards and 3D printers, seem to be still less used than purely software tools, such as content management systems to manage websites, and systems based on off-the-shelf hardware, such as smartphones and cameras as acquisition devices for digital audio and video.
Moreover, the information of the very existence of 3D scanners and printers seems to be widespread, much less common the one of prototyping boards:

I have no idea of the existence of... (% of total responders)

prototyping boards (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc):


3D scanners and printers:


An interesting difference appears in correlation with gender in the interpretation of the role of the Internet of Things:

The Internet of Things is...
(% of total responders; other options were listed)



an incremental evolution



a revolution



Hence, women seem to be more inclined than men to think of IoT as revolutionary instead of an incremental evolution.
Coming to topics more explicitly related to the perception of the Do It Yourself, in reference to the question “Building something with her/his own hands...”, it is interesting that a very high number of responders (73%) agree that it is a satisfaction, that it is not a waste of time (61%), and that it develops her/his own competences (50%), and also that only sometimes it is boring (47%) and saves money (46%), thus seemingly emphasizing the dimension of DIY as a mindset.
In reference to the question “What’s your first thought about DIY with digital tools?”, similar hypotheses seem to emerge: it is not only a game (79%), and it should not be reserved to professionals (72%), also because “good ideas will save the world” (70%).
Finally, in reference to the question “Write two adjectives or expressions by which you would describe a maker (a “digital craftsman”)”, of the more than 100 different adjectives or expressions that have been proposed, in a total of more than 360, in the free form question, the first three most chosen are “creative” (67 times), “innovative (25 times), and “smart” (24 times), thus again emphasizing the dimension of DiDIY as a mindset.

Soon we will publish the complete report on this survey.