April 12: From co-working to hackerspaces: An introduction to innovation spaces

TASCHA Talk: Chris Coward

April 12, 2012
We all know what the typical telecenter or library computer space looks like—people sitting behind monitors along rows of desks, working away on whatever it is they are doing. This model serves a purpose, and as our research indicates, people can benefit greatly from the sort of access and services that one finds in these places. But at the same time this standard configuration is limiting in the types of activities that people can engage in around computers. In this talk Chris introduced other models of communal computer usage, places described as co-working spaces, hacker or maker spaces, and innovation hubs. Chris took guests on a tour, exploring what people do in these places, who they are designed for, and what makes them work. This tour showed that the physical design, management, rules, and services of these spaces foster a wide range activities. Next, he  looked at the ways people across disciplines are conducting research on innovation spaces. What are the driving questions?  How are people trying to understand the phenomenon and introduce technological, design, or other interventions to improve the impacts of these places?  Finally, he discussed potential research opportunities for TASCHA and others to contribute to advancing this space.

About the presenter

Chris Coward is the co-founder, Principal Research Scientist, and Director of the Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) at the University of Washington Information School. Under his leadership, TASCHA has grown in size and scope over the last decade, encompassing research in 50 countries. Chris specializes in designing research programs that improve policy and practice. His work focuses on examining the social and economic impacts of information and communication technologies (ICT), with particular attention to the role of libraries and nonprofit organizations in developing countries. Chris holds a Master of Public Administration degree and a Master of Arts in International Studies degree, both from the University of Washington.

TASCHA Talks are bi-weekly sessions to share, discuss, and advance new ideas around topics related to technology and social change. Learn more at tascha.uw.edu/taschatalks.