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Fab City aims at fostering the social resilience of urban areas by structuring networks of Fab Labs and third-places. This research paper reviews the ontology of this initiative and provides with an understanding of the articulation between networks of interests and communities of values so to enhance Fab City's potential for territorial resilience. Openness is identified as a key feature of projects nested within Fab City, even though the diversity of participants is very low in the makers movement. In order to assess openness, this paper proposes a semiotic design methodology that is anchored in the actor-network theory and cyber-counter-culture heritage, and distancing from human-centred and participative design. The semiotic design methodology is then applied on three case studies as an illustration of the method's potential as a diagnostic tool to appreciate their openness. In providing a methodology for a systemic understanding of community oriented design, this research could help pave the way for a dynamic practice of design, one that aims at building an evolving common language for resilience while prizing cultural differences.
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Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 1
Connecting Terroirs.
Design Practices in the Fab City.
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière
Adrien Rigobello, thr34d5
Paris, France
Nadja Gaudillière, thr34d5
Paris, France
Fab City aims at fostering the social resilience of urban areas by structuring networks of Fab Labs and third-places.
This research paper reviews the ontology of this initiative and provides with an understanding of the articulation
between networks of interests and communities of values so to enhance Fab Citys potential for territorial
resilience. Openness is identified as a key feature of projects nested within Fab City, even though the diversity of
participants is very low in the makers movement. In order to assess openness, this paper proposes a semiotic
design methodology that is anchored in the actor-network theory and cyber-counter-culture heritage, and
distancing from human-centred and participative design. The semiotic design methodology is then applied on three
case studies as an illustration of the methods potential as a diagnostic tool to appreciate their openness. In
providing a methodology for a systemic understanding of community oriented design, this research could help pave
the way for a dynamic practice of design, one that aims at building an evolving common language for resilience
while prizing cultural differences.
fabcity, design theory, semiotic design, actor-network theory, terroirs.
1 Introduction
In 1998, the How to make (almost) anything class started at MIT by Neil Gershenfeld
initiated an
educational movement aiming at empowering people by providing engineering education for everyone.
In continuation of this initiative, the MIT later started the Fab Foundation NPO, formalizing a framework
to widespread the form of training that had been developed by Gershenfeld in his class. The Fab
Foundation fostered both the development of third places called Fab Labs and a globally distributed
educational program called FabAcademy. Fab Labs were thought of as places that could and still can be
proposed by anyone morally agreeing to the charter
defined by the Fab Foundation in order to use this
denomination. The FabAcademy program lasts six months, is mentored by a FabAcademy alumni, and is
taking place in a Fab Lab anywhere in the world.
In line with the initial ambition of empowering students, the program puts participants in the position of
learning by doing, by favouring practical exercises and making activities, and encourages a form of do-
Professor at MIT, Director of MIT's Centre for Bits and Atoms.
2 (consulted July 2019).
3 (consulted July 2019).
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 2
ocracy - the ones that act decide. Furthermore, students are incited to make sense of the learnings on
their own to their benefits, that way constructing their cosmogonies. This theoretically humanist
methodology is seen as an inclusive way to widespread engineering of the world. In practice
nevertheless, one can notice that the makers projects are mostly solely focused on Technics, an
approach conveying a scientist bias to participants.
Fab City is a proposition originally issued by IAAC
, MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms, the Fab Foundation
and the Barcelona City Council and was officially launched in 2014 during FAB10, the 10th global annual
reunion of the Fab Labs network. Fab City activities rely on the following hypothesis: networking Fab
Labs and third places at large within a territory can help build cities that are (more) resilient. The
objective is to have fully autonomous cities in terms of goods production in 2054.
Inheriting from the Fab Foundation scientist stand, discussions happening in the context of the Fab City
are mostly technologically driven. The discourse is simple: if technology messed the world up, there is a
way to use it so to save it. While a few researchers, such as (Kostakis et al., 2015, 2016) or (Rumpala,
2014) occasionally mention the socio-political dimension of Fab City, and while many regularly recall the
appropriation of production processes by citizens as the goal of the initiative, most projects and analysis
remain techno-centric, focusing on how to technically empower participants and which technical objects
to develop.
The challenge of Fab City is to encompass the cosmogonies of its various micro-social groups nested
within a territory, negotiating the conditions for cultural expression while conferring a common vision.
The goal of Fab City shall be to build new territorial traditions, also known as terroirs
. In order to
achieve this, the aim of the present research is to refocus the development of Fab City as a fosterer of
communities, and to propose a design methodology to help initiatives within to do so.
2 Fab City is terroir
2.1 A brief ontology
In 2018, the publication of the book Fab City: The Mass Distribution of (almost) everything (Diez, 2018)
was the opportunity for a report on this young initiative. The book comprises Fab City’s best practices in
technological collaboration for a resilient industrial model. From blockchain (De Filippi, 2018) to artificial
intelligence (Steels, 2018), through computerized ethnic patterns (Eglash, 2018), although the authors
discuss the limits of technological implementation for social justice and equity, the sociological ontology
of a resilient city is left aside. In an earlier discussion, the practical example of Smart Citizen an
environmental sensing electronic toolkit is presented as a technological empowerment for citizens
(Diez, 2013); the project is introduced as a means to redistribute both the power of monitoring and
supposedly control over the territory by democratizing advanced technology, and enabling networking
of users in a digital space. The latter prefigures how Fab City can now be identified: an initiative to
redefine common grounds for citizenship, helped by technology.
We have mentioned how, in the early years of development of the Fab City initiative, the Fab
Foundation has influenced it into a scientist approach. Nevertheless, the Fab City manifesto
ten values defining the humanist stand of the community in regards to resilience: ecological, inclusive,
glocalism, participatory, economic growth and employment, locally productive, people-centred, holistic,
open source philosophy, experimental. A single term regards the technological inclinement of the
community: “locally productive”; other terms actually refer to governance (participatory, open source,
Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia.
Terroiris a French word that defines a territory by its ecosystem and agronomy. The term is used in this
research paper as the signifier of a coherent cultural composition of a territory by the means of crafts (know-
hows), arts, and agriculture.
6 (consulted July 2019).
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 3
ecological, glocalism), and beside the mention of economic growth, the manifesto makes it clear that the
focus of the project of the Fab City is meant to be community-centred.
Furthermore, the involvement of a great variety of actors in diverse local Fab City initiatives also hints
toward further socio-cultural analysis of the project. In particular, the strong involvement of the
Barcelona City Council in the Fab City initiative, up to the engagement in 2014 of the team of mayor Ada
Colau to make the city self-sufficient in 2054, is a sign of a socialist influence that seem as great as the
scientist one of the Fab Foundation
A contradiction now appears in Fab Citys past and present influences; as scientism inherited from the
Fab Foundation is stretched to the community scale, actors within are the subject of a translation of
their interdependencies and activities. Scaling up the empowering idea of a Fab Lab can neither be
transforming a city in a gigantic Fab Lab, neither to only focus on the question of technological
availability for all. While it undoubtedly is a variable in the equation, the operations between the
variables the relations in-between human and non-human actors - are of a higher order: Fab City’s
central object of discussions and research is the very design of communities.
2.2 Restating the Fab City
In the present paper, Fab City is characterized through the prism of the relations between its human and
non-human actors. We can understand it as a sociotechnological network (Latour & Woolgar, 1979); the
interplay of relations between its actors is based on an alignment of interests and values.
Given this, specific aspects of the Fab City manifesto become more relevant to this research: inclusive,
open source philosophy, participatory. While studying the makers movement
, (Niaros et al., 2017)
identified a lack of racial and gender diversity, and a high threshold for participation, even though the
maker community feeds on open resources. Pushing data and information online on expert based
therefore does not seem to be enough to leverage the full potential of the digital in the city,
let alone trigger large-scale social inclusion.
In search for a way to foster a radical inclusion one that is allowing and encouraging anyone to
participate in the construction of the Fab City regardless of social origin, gender or race we need to
further define the notions of interests and values. As an introductory detour, anthropology provides us
with extensive documentation of a paradigm similar to the one we are trying to assess: oral traditions
and knowledge transfer through generations and communities. In pre-modern societies, oral traditions
played a strong role in including each member of a community in its care. Oral traditions in food,
architecture or crafts are commonplace since Human sedentarization. A noticeable example is the Aflaj
water system in the Oman Sultanate that is over four thousand years old and still in use
. This system
has a shared maintenance planning that relies only on oral traditions, and is of a great influence over the
social construction of communities (Al Sulaimani et al., 2007). The harsh environment of Oman triggered
an articulation between a technical object (the water system), and actors within situated communities.
One of the commonalities between oral traditions and interventions within the Fab City is the presence
of both a will to share practices among citizens and an attachment to a physical space. Oral traditions
anchor both in a physical land and a virtual space. The virtual space comprises a set of cultural values
carried by traditions; the singularities are located physically in crafts and practices. Oral traditions are
generally interpreted as the shared imaginary projection of the social structure of a given political entity
(Camara, 1996), which is of interest to the one aiming at fostering situated communities. The collective
and iterative design of oral tradition related crafts situates at the very core of the practice; incremental
innovation of commonly shared blueprints and know-hows are an intrinsic condition to perpetuate the
An interview was conducted in the framework of this research with Francesco Cingolani and Vincent Guimas (two
of Fab City Grand Paris co-founders), during which the Barcelonian political influence on Fab City was discussed.
Study realized on « makerspaces », which is a term Niaros et al. use to gather all fabrication oriented third places
such as hackerspaces or Fab Labs, for example.
Such as, or as examples.
We are displaying a single synthetic example of oral traditions as to illustrate the parallel we draw.
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 4
practice (Bauman, 1973). Crafts practices behave as amenable designs through generational and
geographical relocation of knowledge, and in doing so crafts aggregate new knowledge and convey it
further. The virtual knowledge base that is being conveyed by this effect is de facto culturally situated, it
is a transmitter of values. Open source practices can be considered to happen in a similar dynamic.
Furthermore, technical objects in open designs in the Fab City shall operate a transfer not of interests,
but of values.
On the first hand, networks of interests are a consensual agreement between its members so to
practically arrange the best conditions for each member in terms of basic needs and up to self-
actualization. The social contract formed by a state typically belongs to this category. An agent within a
contemporary company is expected to act as in a network of interests, where the formal contracts that
are established cover an agreement of common interests
On the other hand, communities of values are inherent to our societies; because no human organization
solely relies on pure reason and interplay of interests. Religious and political groups, sports clubs or
music fan clubs, to name a few, all rely on values sharing (Boltanski & Thévenot, 1991).
The aforementioned limits of the actual Fab City in regards to inclusion questions the translation of
networks of interests into communities of values within the city: how can the act of design comprise
values transmission and be inclusive so to transform networks into communities?
Assessing inclusion in the city is to invoke proletarianization, which straightens further the inclusive act,
as facing this process is to question the expression of cultures as well as social disparities in knowledge
access (Stiegler, 2012).
2.3 Introducing terroirs
A wide variety of initiatives are present within the Fab City: Fab Labs, makerspaces, specialized
coworking spaces, but also urban agriculture and food production spaces, educational programs, various
materials and electronics reuse initiatives. Although each initiative is driven by a specific set of values,
most of them are shared, such as the notions of inclusiveness and open sourcing. Fab City opens a
liminal terroir, in between the physical and the digital scapes, that is negotiating values as promoters of
(Callon, 1984) proposes a mapping of networks of interests: the purpose of the exercise is to observe
how the negotiation of these interests unfolds between human and non-human actors so to deliver a
project. In a similar fashion, this research aims at understanding how to foster the formation of inclusive
communities stemming from networks by an act of negotiation of values. As values are deeply anchored
in an individual, they are hardly negotiable over the short term. Hence the methodology to foster the
formation of communities would be to aggregate individuals with their specific cultural sets and values
into a community that prizes their difference. The activity of “negotiation of values that transforms
the agent of a society into a citizen that is part of a community lies then in a semiotic effort to build a
common and dynamic language and ontology. The negotiation is an act of design, or as (Zingale, 2016)
puts it: “design is an act of translation”. This semiotic effort is anchored locally, in the territory, and
participates in the construction of the evolving identity of the terroir; the semiotic activity has to make
sense of the plurality of cultures by constructing a technical apparatus
that allows a play of
asynchronous affordances. As introduced with oral traditions, an object gains value as a cultural
knowledge carrier with its capacity to incrementally aggregate new points of view over its message. The
technical apparatus leaves blank spaces for users to contribute to the definition of cosmogonies, of
The digital aspect of a technical apparatus exponentially increases its potential for cultural expression
and appropriation by its users as its mobility within the design space is much higher; affordances are
The introduction of the “psychological contract” by Denise Rousseau (1995) proposes an understanding of how
values are integrated in informal contracts in companies.
The expression of the “technical object” is enlarged to “technical apparatus” so to avoid a misreading of its
holiness, as it features objects, blueprints and code.
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 5
being almost synchronized as users can theoretically instantly share their views, and the rate of
incremental improvement of the technical features and craftsmanship practices (know-hows) increases.
In consequence, communities of values synchronize, mature situated practices, and generate a cultural
fertilization for new meme carriers
into the networks of interests. The civil society absorbs coherent
memes in the terroir, which spread into communities and seed new ones.
3 Negotiation praxis
3.1 Recomposing design families
Design practices have long been challenged by post-modernist schools of thought in regards to users
inclusion (“participatory design”) (Cross, 1972), and have matured towards human-centred design in the
past thirty years (Cooley, 1989; Buchanan, 2001). Such practices focus on product and service design by
opening the processes to final users. The emergent memetic characteristic of open designs spreading
through the makers movement benefits from another heritage though. Information Technologies
democratization from the 1950s, along with the development of the web in the late 1960s, facilitated
the formation of a cyber-counter-culture in Western societies (Turner, 2008). This culture is
characterized by the emergence of distributed communities, such as The Whole Earth Catalog illustrates
(Brand, 1968-1972). It is noteworthy that the community revolving around the latter gave birth to one of
the first web-based leading community of meme sharing, the WELL
. Community focused design is a
practice that does not stem from human-centred design even though it shall benefit from it, but rather
from cybernetics and the way Information Technologies fostered novel approaches of the activity of
values negotiation.
The keystone of a semiotic activity that aims at being inclusive by fostering the meme conveying abilities
of designs is its openness. The openness defines as the wideness of the design space that is left to the
actors of the network of interest so to find space for the expression of their identity in the technical
apparatus. A novel design practice that is willingly focusing on openness of the designs requires its own
processes, its own toolkits to foster the understanding and widespread of the practice.
Building upon the tight links structuring both linguistics and cybernetics, the present research paper
proposes a semiotic design methodology as an openness measurement grid, design methodology, and
flagship for the Fab City and emerging community-based practices. Four categories are identified:
Syntax; the structure of the language. This is the framework of intervention.
Morphology; the overall shape and scale of the various objects (signifiers) that are being stacked
within the syntax.
Lexicon; vocabulary, the scope of language that is being used, aggregates in a dictionary.
Phonology; the accent, local specification, situated expression of the language that is transversal
to the elements above.
Such as the controversies mapping aiming at recovering the ontology of sociotechnological facts within
, the semiotic design methodology aims at building an understanding as of how to intervene
to foster resilience by facilitating knowledge-based communities, and help in mapping the ways to do so.
Communities of values form and spread essentially through memes, encoded as signifiers.
14 (consulted July 2019).
15 (consulted July 2019).
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 6
3.2 Three case studies
Superilla is a tactical urbanism project led by the Barcelona City Council that was implemented in 2016.
This project consists of various interventions creating new pedestrian areas and spaces for citizens by
taking back streets from cars. In 2017, IAAC developed and implemented SuperBARRIO
, a gamified
interface for mobile devices allowing citizens to propose designs within the Superilla areas.
The syntax, morphology and phonology of the SuperBARRIO intervention situates within the framework
of Superilla, the openness does not exist as no option is left to the user but to play the game or not. It is
by choosing within options of the game the offered lexicon that citizens are being consulted.
Whereas the project is usually characterized as human-centred and participative, it does not make sense
of the potential of urban negotiation of values but rather contributes to perpetuate a dominant
urbanistic model although it can surely be useful to develop citizen consultation.
Precious Plastic is a Dave Hakkens project trying to boost plastic recycling worldwide. It provides open
source tools and knowledge since 2013. This project is certainly the clearest example of an evolution of
design towards communities. Figure 1 illustrates partly the amount and diversity of the spread of the
project worldwide. Precious Plastics headquarters are temporarily located in Eindhoven in a former
industrial plant lent by the town. A worldwide interdisciplinary community meets there to work
voluntarily on the development of plastic reuse machinery and usages that can be made from it.
The open distribution of machinery blueprints developed by the Dutch team of Precious Plastics allows
for the amenability of machinery designs, which translates as a situated local specification of the syntax
(technical improvements, scaling, various material usage, for example). As the latter is dynamic, the
morphology and vocabulary which are composed by the usages and design spaces of the reused plastic
productions are left very opened: whatever the way, plastic pollution needs to be assessed in any way.
An interesting feature of the project is the fact that the phonology impact falls short as the vocabulary is
almost limitless; what does it mean for a language to have accents if they are by definition already part
of the dictionary?
Figure 1 Screen capture of “preciousplastics” research on Instagram.
16 (consulted July 2019).
Adrien Rigobello, Nadja Gaudillière: Connecting Terroirs. Design Practices in the Fab City.
Paper presented at Fab15, El Gouna, 28 July -2 August 2019 7
Volumes Coworking is a Parisian space founded in 2015 by three architects, featuring a food lab and a
makerspace. Daily activities focus mainly on architectural topics such as computational design and
vernacular constructions conferences, participative urbanism trainings and workshops. Experts in
residence cross paths with local communities thanks to an open programation of events. Francesco
Cingolani (co-founder of Volumes) makes sense of the emerging activities as a platform democratizing
the use of advanced digital tools such as those one can find in a makerspace. Removing the technicality
of such innovations from the everyday discourse with local communities, while encouraging them to visit
by hosting proximity services and open events, Volumes is offering to participate to a novel paradigm
inherited from cyber-counter-culture.
Barriers to entrance are dramatically lowered to facilitate participation in the project of Volumes. As an
experimental space, the morphology (typology of space usage here) is left very open. One could even
see the peculiarity of the presence of the foodlab within a space dedicated to architecture as a bold
choice to widen the design space. The intrinsic feature of architectural design confers Volumes with a
rather closed syntax, although the phonology diversity is encouraged. The latter is especially noticeable
considering the consolidation of the relationships the space has with the neighbouring communities over
4 Discussions
This research paper aims at providing new design research opportunities for Fab City, making sense of its
identity and positioning. In acknowledging the humanist stand that the initiative takes over the scientist
vision of the Fab Foundation, Fab City could develop further projects in that direction so to achieve its
goal of fostering social resilience. A key feature of its approach is the open source philosophy;
developing further the tools to do so in the sense radical inclusion would mean to challenge current
practices in that field. Open source current practices consist in pushing information on specialized web
platforms, and are sometime facilitating their use by providing tutorials. The lack of diversity in the
making communities as pointed out by Niaros et al. is a consequence of such barriers to entrance;
benefiting from open source too often means to already be part of the community. Acknowledging a
new design methodology focusing on semiotics, not directly inheriting from human-centred design
practices and interfaces, but focusing on communities by valuing the contributions from social sciences,
could be beneficial in enhancing the potential of the open source philosophy. The proposed semiotic
design methodology was used in the present research paper as a reading guide for openness qualitative
appreciation. As a design methodology, numerous developments are foreseeable: a community designer
could use it all along a project to assess critical design decisions while taking part in a “design for
resilience” community. The methodology is then a flagship as it calls for its own improvement and has
the potential of providing critical thinking to designers willing to challenge dominant social models and
deconstruct neo-colonialist ones.
An archaeology of the future would eventually read our epoch as the one of worldwide cultural collage
that attempted to face environmental issues together, rather than one of Western scientism.
Authors would like to thank Francesco Cingolani and Vincent Guimas for the valuable interview they agreed to
participate to in the framework of this research.
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Decolonizing Digital Fabrication: Case Studies in Generative Justice Why do pressing social problems-environmental degradation, labor insecurity, ethnic and gender inequality, and so on-look so much alike in both capitalist and communist societies? Systems designed to extract value-whether delivered to private corporations or centralized states-are inherently flawed: once value is alienated it is nearly impossible to restore. But defining what it means to nurture value mobility in unalienated form-circulated rather than extracted-is by no means obvious. Collaborating with indigenous communities, urban artisans and others, our research group has explored "generative justice" as both theoretical framework and experimental intervention. Here we report on our results with computational, thermal and mechanical systems that expand the circulation of unalienated value in three domains: labor value, ecological value, and expressive value. From heritage algorithms for STEM education to solar ink for west African fabrics, generative justice can guide us, bottom-up, towards a just and sustainable future. 2
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Dans le sillage d'une image médiatique de communautés de bricolage high-tech, « fab labs » et « makerspaces » sont fréquemment regardés par le prisme de l'innovation. Cet article propose de montrer qu'une telle vision, plutôt technico-économique, est insuffisante et qu'il est possible de les aborder avec un autre regard, plus attentif à leurs potentialités sociopolitiques. Ces lieux ouverts, qui permettent d'accéder à des capacités de fabrication à partir d'équipements sophistiqués, souvent numériques, paraissent en effet pouvoir incarner des courants de réflexion cherchant des voies d'émancipation avec les développements technologiques. « Fab labs » et « makerspaces » méritent donc d'être analysés, notamment sous l'angle des capacités qui semblent redistribuées, des formes de remise en cause de l'ordre industriel qu'ils tendent à porter et des dynamiques qui peuvent être favorables au développement de cette nouvelle forme d'ateliers. Fab labs and makerspaces: Between innovation and liberation? Presented in the media as high-tech DIY communities, fab labs and makerspaces are often seen through the prism of innovation. This article aims to show that this rather techno-economic view has limitations. They can also be examined from another angle, which is more concerned with their socio-political potential. These open spaces, which provide access to production capacities using sophisticated and often digital equipment, appear to embody schools of thought looking for ways of liberation through technological developments. Fab labs and makerspaces therefore merit to be examined, particularly in how they can redistribute capabilities, challenge the industrial order, and foster the development of this new form of workshop. « Fab labs », « makerspaces » : ¿ entre innovación y emancipación ? Siguiendo la imagen mediática de comunidades de manipulación high-tech, « fab labs » y « makers-paces » son vistos frecuentemente a través del prisma de la innovación. En el presente artículo se muestra que este tipo de visión, bastante técnica-económica, es insuficiente y que es posible considerar los « fab labs » y « makerspaces » desde una nueva perspectiva que seria más sensible hacia sus potencialidades socio-políticas. En la medida en que estos espacios abiertos permiten acceder a capacidades de fabricación a partir de equipos sofisticados a menudo numéricos, ellos parecen poder encarnar la búsqueda filosófica de la emancipación con el desarrollo tecnológico. Fablabs y makerspaces merecen pués ser analizados, en particular desde la óptica de las capaci-dades que parecen ser redistribuidas, de un cierto cuestionamiento del orden industrial que tienden a promover, y de las dinámicas que pueden favorecer al desarrollo de este nuevo tipo de talleres. « Fab labs », « makerspaces » : entre innovation et émancipation ? Rattrapés par les enthousiasmes technophiles et l'idéologie entrepreneuriale, les fab labs (« fabrication laboratories ») pourraient facilement passer pour un nouvel avatar de l'économie de l'innovation (1). Une espèce de variante des start-up ou la manifestation d'un esprit similaire. Ces lieux de fabrication et surtout d'expérimentation, généralement à base de technologies numériques, sont alors presque assimilés, voire réduits, à des incubateurs d'entreprises orientés vers les technologies innovantes. C'est une possibilité, mais parmi d'autres, notamment si on la replace dans une tendance au développement d'une multiplicité d'espaces plus ou moins communautaires visant à partager l'accès à des équipements sophistiqués à vocation productive comme les makerspaces, cet autre type de lieu permettant de se réunir et de collaborer pour créer et fabriquer en commun. Initialement, les fab labs sont des ateliers orientés vers les nouvelles technologies conçus pour être accessibles à des non-professionnels : ils mettent à disposition des outils avancés, en général plus facilement disponibles dans le monde industriel, pour que leurs utilisateurs puissent fabriquer leurs propres objets. L'idée, inspirée du travail du professeur Neil Gershenfeld à la fin des années 90 au Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT ; Gershenfeld, 2007) et portée par le laboratoire de ce dernier (le Center for Bits and Atoms), a été reprise dans de nombreux pays, et pas seulement ceux qui sont habituellement considérés comme étant les plus avancés technique-ment, puisque des fab labs réputés sont aussi présents au Ghana et en Inde, par exemple (2)
Critical approaches to the smart city concept are used to begin highlighting the promises of makerspaces, that is to say, those emerging urban sites that promote sharing practices; exercise community-based forms of governance; and utilize local manufacturing technologies. A bird’s-eye-view of the history of makerspaces is provided tracing their roots back to the hacker movement. Drawing from secondary sources, their community-building, learning and innovation potential is briefly discussed. Makerspaces, this essay argues, can serve as hubs and vehicles for citizen-driven transformation and, thus, play a key part in a more inclusive, participatory and commons-oriented vision of the smart city.
When human atoms are knit into an organisation in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that the raw material is flesh and blood. What is used as an element in a machine is in fact an element in a machine . . . The hour is very late, and the choice of good and evil knocks at our door.1
This paper outlines a new approach to the study of power, that of the sociology of translation. Starting from three principles, those of agnosticism, generalised symmetry and free association, the paper describes a scientigc and economic controversy about the causes for the decline in the population of scallops in St. Brieuc Bay and the attempts by three marine biologists to develop a conservation strategy for that population. Four "moments" of translation are discerned in the attempts by these researchers to impose themselves and their degnition of the situation on others: Z) problematization-the researchers sought to become indispensable to other actors in the drama by degning the nature and the problems of the latter and then suggesting that these would be resolved if the actors negotiated the "obligatory passage point" of the researchers' program of investigation; G) interessemen- A series of processes by which the researchers sought to lock the other actors into the roles that had been proposed for them in that program; 3) enrolment- A set of strategies in which the researchers sought to degne and interrelate the various roles they had allocated to others; 4) mobilization- A set of methods used by the researchers to ensure that supposed spokesmen for various relevant collectivities were properly able to represent those collectivities and not betrayed by the latter. In conclusion, it is noted that translation is a process, never a completed accomplishment, and it may (as in the empirical case considered) fail.
This article aims to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on post-capitalist construction by exploring the contours of a commons-oriented productive model. On the basis of this model called "design global-manufacture local", we argue that recent techno-economic developments around the emergence of commons-based peer production and desktop manufacturing technologies, may signal new alternative paths of social organization. We conclude by arguing that all commons-oriented narratives could converge, thereby supporting the creative communities which are building the world they want within the confines of the political economy they aspire to transcend.