Digital DIY: Course Introduction

Welcome to the first DiDIY online course!

This is the first, free online course about DiDIY (Digital DIY). Its goal is to provide, in the simplest possible way, an understanding of the DiDIY phenomenon and of the reasons it is so important for (European) society.

All the course material is always available online, and can be used (and re-used, see license in the footer) autonomously by everybody. A new interactive session of the course, however, will start on November 10th, 2016. Participation is free of charge. To enrol, please contact us.

In this short video, DiDIY Coordinator Prof. Luca Mari introduces the two main concepts that are the basics of our research, and of this course:

Luca Mari: the concepts of Digital DIY and ABC - DiDIY Course from DiDIY on Vimeo.

Luca Mari: the concepts of Digital DIY and ABC - DiDIY Course from DiDIY on Vimeo.

Course modules

  1. Introduction (this page)
  2. DiDIY fundamental technologies and tools
  3. DiDIY "derived" technologies and tools
  4. DiDIY in Education
  5. DiDIY and Creativity
  6. How DiDIY reshapes business roles (and work in general)
  7. DiDIY legal issues: rights and responsibilities
  8. DiDIY Online Communities
  9. DiDIY Final Overview


The course is divided into eight parts, including this general introduction, that are listed at the bottom of this page. Each parts, except this introduction, consists of a short text that explains some side of DiDIY, a list of resources to know more about the same topic, and some learning activities. Most parts also include a short video that explains or expands some aspects of the corresponding topic. Each part of the course may be used independently from the others, but the recommended order is the one listed below.

The course material is meant to be useable as-is, for autonomous study, even offline. However, it is completed by two parts that will be available online on May 10th, 2016, for a first interactive session of the course itself.

  • an online forum, where periodic sessions are run. In the forum, which is followed by a tutor, course participants can interact with each other, ask for assistance about specific projects
  • a final questionnaire, that  is provided for self-evaluation and to gather general data for the DiDIY project activities

Privacy Policy and courseware license for the whole course are available at the bottom of this page.

What is DiDIY?

Digital DIY (DiDIY) is the production of all sorts of objects that is enabled by the availability of hardware tools and other machines that:

  • are directly controlled by some computer, or more exactly by some software, instead of a human being;
  • are much cheaper and simpler to use than they were even a few years ago.

The first, immediate consequence of these characteristics is that DiDIY can be really ubiquitous. The second, that it does much more than give some people cheaper and faster ways to perform the same DIY activities they were already doing.

DiDIY is ubiquitous, because software is extremely flexible. Any tool that is controllable by electric signals can be controlled by software. Software, in turn, can process designs and instructions of every conceivable sort. This means that, from a purely technical point of view, the only limits to manufacturing something in DiDIY fashion may be the cost of raw materials.

The fact that DiDIY replaces (albeit not completely!) manual dexterity skills with the capability to use software is even more important. It means that DiDIY enables (many) more, or other people, to do the same things. The easiest proof of this is sculptures: today, even people who may never work with clay or handle a chisel can produce them with a 3D printer.

Digital DIY also gives some rights back to consumers, allowing them to produce by themselves spare parts, not otherwise available, of some product they already own.

As drawbacks, if not properly known and practiced, the DiDIY technologies presented here have the same ones of traditional DIY, e.g. safety, plus one that is less known: the microelectronics components at the core of many DiDIY projects are hard to recycle, if they are recyclable in the first place. The same applies to certain plastics used in 3D printing.This course mostly mentions Open Source/Open Hardware tools, even when they are not the state of the art in the field or, in some cases, have not been updated recently. The reason for this choice is to highlight the following point: with the right knowledge, or the right experts assisting you, it is surely possible for everybody, both technically and legally, to build, use and even customize those tools “without permission”! Without, that is, any limitation that may make those tools accessible only to large organizations.

    Course Privacy Policy

    The privacy policy regarding the personal data of all participants to this course is the same of the whole DiDIY website. It is up to each participant to guarantee that no personal data of third parties are included, without their explicit consent, into the results of the learning activities of each module, that will be published as part of the Courseware, as specified in the next paragraph.

    Courseware license

    Like all the other content of the DiDIY website, unless specified all the materials of this course, including those produced and delivered by the course participants as result of the learning activities, are available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0.