Digital DIY: challenge or opportunity for degrowth?

Thursday, 1 September, 2016 - 14:30

The DiDIY Project will contributes to the 5th International Degrowth Conference with a paper titled "The Digital DIY phenomenon: challenge or opportunity for degrowth?"


Digital Do-It-Yourself (DiDIY) is a set of DIY activities and mindsets made possible by the availability of low cost software, digital communication networks and digital fabrication devices. Today, the most popular examples of DiDIY are 3D printing and the “Makers Movement”. DiDIY, however, is a much bigger phenomenon, with potentially huge effects on the economy and the environment.

So far, the interaction between advocates of degrowth and communities like the one of Makers has been very limited and not void of reciprocal suspicion, if not hostility.

Practitioners of DiDIY seem to propose even more consumption of resources, that is the opposite of degrowth; in fact, it is hard to deny that many current examples of DiDIY only solve “first world problems”, producing even more hardly recyclable waste. DiDIY also needs, by definition, products and infrastructures, from microelectronics components to the Internet itself, that have a very big environmental footprint.

In spite of this, DiDIY can, if not become an deliberate “ally” of degrowth, give a strong contribution to mitigate some phenomenons, from waste to overconsumption, that degrowth rightly sees as serious problems. We argue that this should happen, and that much more mutual knowledge and support between the two communities are needed.

In our talk we first summarize the characteristics of DiDIY, highlighting those that seem an obstacle to degrowth. Next we present some key issues on which the degrowth and DiDIY movements may cooperate to achieve a critical mass. Finally, we mention some actions that should be implemented, at the regulatory and advocacy levels, to reach that critical mass.

Logistic details about the corresponding talk at the conference are here.