The past, present, & future of Making, the Maker Movement, & Makerspaces

The maker movement has grown at a rapid pace over the past few years. Makerspaces are being developed at an astounding rate, both domestically and internationally, in many different places – from schools to pop-up shops to public libraries. They are touted as havens for techies, artists, and entrepreneurs. Project-based learning, design learning, experiential learning are hot topics in both the formal and informal education fields.

TASCHA has begun looking at innovation spaces that support making activities and how they may provide communities with unique opportunities through fostering innovation and creativity, but there are challenges that must be addressed before “every child a maker” becomes a reality. Through a five-part blog post series, “Making and the maker movement: A democratizing force or an example of cultural reproduction?,” TASCHA research partner Lauren Britton critically examines the discourse around the maker movement and makerspaces, not in an attempt to discredit the movement and its supporters, but rather to draw attention to the issues and challenges of the maker movement and how these may be addressed.

These point-of-view pieces draw on literature, media, and conversations with people who are actively engaged in the movement. Over the course of the past year, Lauren has contributed to the makerspace movement through her thoughtful analysis in the pieces below.

TASCHA is particularly interested in the maker movement as it relates to resource-constrained communities, both in developing and developed countries. The maker movement creates a hybrid of digital and face-to-face community interaction and has been cited to empower individuals by creating access to tools and technology that democratize the means of production. The spaces have been identified as enabling communities facing social and economic challenges with the ability to create jobs, innovate, and grow small businesses. For TASCHA, Innovation Spaces and the Future of Libraries is a growing area of our research. Our goal through this project is to bring awareness to the less visible aspects of the maker movement in order to help community organizations developing innovation spaces better understand both the benefits and challenges.

Lauren Britton is a doctoral student at Syracuse University in Information Science and Technology, leader in the library maker space movement, and TASCHA research partner.