Ecologies of innovation and public libraries

April 23, 2016

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spent more and more time in the “innovation” space, attending conferences and workshops, speaking with leaders in the public library field, visiting innovation hubs from Africa to South America, doing a bit of research on innovation spaces, and otherwise trying to grapple with what this all means for international development generally (and as it pertains to all of TASCHA’s work), and public libraries in particular (for our public library research).

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

April 12, 2016

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.

“Making” the Future: Conclusion of Making & the Maker Movement blog post series

December 14, 2015

The Maker movement evolved out of Punk and DIY culture and has grown at a rapid pace over the past six years, spurred by the creation of Make Magazine and the Maker Faire. A manifesto has been published (Hatch, 2014) and ‘how-to’ guides on making and building makerspaces abound (, 2012; Bagley, 2014; Kemp, 2013; Lang, 2013). Touted as havens for techies, artists, and entrepreneurs, makerspaces are being developed at an astounding rate, both domestically and internationally. Makerspaces are community-operated facilities that provide access to the tools of production, usually wood shops, metal shops, and digital fabrication technology.

Power, Access, Status: The Discourse of Race, Gender, and Class in the Maker Movement

March 18, 2015

This blog post is the fourth of five of the blog post series, “Making and the maker movement: A democratizing force or an example of cultural reproduction?” See the first blog post, second blog post, and third blog post.

Spaces and ‘Maker’ activities are promoted as being inclusive, open spaces. Yet, as Dunbar-Hester writes in Radical Inclusion? Locating Accountability in Technical DIY,
The promotion of a sphere in which “universal” technical (or civic) participation occurs may require bracketing inequalities of access and status, which obviously fails to reflect a social reality where certain groups enjoy privilege and dominance relative to other groups. (Dunbar-Hester, 2014)

STEM, DASTEM, and STEAM in Making: Debating America’s Economic Future in the 21st Century

September 3, 2014

As noted in the previous post, Democratized Tools of Production: New Technologies Spurring the Maker Movement, the power and opportunity purported to emerge from the maker movement is strongly focused on STEM education and the ‘tools of production’. This post will focus on the history of STEM, how other schools of thought have critiqued and added new areas to STEM, and the relationship of these issues to ‘making’ and the maker movement.

Democratized tools of production: New technologies spurring the maker movement

August 18, 2014

The discourse surrounding the Maker Movement, particularly in the political spectrum, focuses heavily on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education, manufacturing, and jobs (Kalil, Extreme Marshmellow Canons, 2012). It is the technology and tools that are ushering in “the new industrial revolution” (Anderson, 2012). Through democratizing access to these tools, “anyone can change the world” (Hatch, 2014 p.10). Makerspaces are said to give communities facing social and economic challenges the ability to create jobs, innovate, and grow small businesses, through access to the tools of production (Barjarin, 2014) (Gershenfeld, 2005).

Examining the maker movement through discourse analysis: An introduction

July 30, 2014

The extensive discourse regarding ‘making’ and the maker movement is primarily centered on the opportunities that ‘making’ creates for society, particularly for manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. Through this blog post series, “Making and the maker movement: A democratizing force or an example of cultural reproduction?” (this is the first blog post out of a series of 5), I aim to critically examine this discourse, 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 will draw on literature, media, and conversations with people who are actively engaged in the movement.

Libraries & makerspaces: A revolution?

June 13, 2014

One of TASCHA’s recent research projects is focusing on innovation spaces (including makerspaces), and what the implications and opportunities are for libraries. We are working on crystallizing some aspects of this research and where we see it heading. We’re lucky to have maker movement maven Lauren Britton here with us in Seattle for a week to help us flesh out our ideas and contribute her expertise in the area. Lauren was one of (if not THE only) groundbreaking leaders of the makerspace movement within libraries. To maximize Lauren’s time with us, we invited our colleagues and students from the University of Washington to join us for an informal discussion on libraries and makerspaces. Lauren kicked off our discussion by providing a background on makerspaces, definining a makerspace for us, and shared her experience setting up a makerspace in the Fayetteville Public Library in central New York. We went on to discuss how libraries and makerspaces fit together compared to other places makerspaces exist, some of what she has learned over the past few years, and where things might be heading for makerspaces in libraries. Here’s a recap of our lively and informative discussion.

Upcoming discussion: Libraries & makerspaces: A revolution?

June 9, 2014

In this informal get together, 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker Lauren Britton will lead a discussion on the concepts, theory, and ideology behind the maker movement, and examine if the public library creates a unique platform for community and civic engagement, through making. Lauren is a visiting researcher working with TASCHA this summer (in Seattle just this one week) to advance research on innovation spaces. Students interested in this topic and the possibility of contributing to this next academic year are especially encouraged to attend.

Presentation: The rise of innovation spaces and implications for libraries

May 9, 2014

We are familiar with the typical library computer space— rows of computers, each one occupied by a single person. The underlying notion driving this configuration is that people need access to information, and that this access is optimized when each person is provided with individualized use of a computer and internet (with assistance from a librarian when the need arises). There is another model that is experiencing tremendous growth and attention: innovation spaces—physical places that foster community, collaboration, and creation. The notion behind these spaces is that creativity and innovation are stimulated when people and ideas come into contact with one another, not when they are isolated. There are many types of innovation spaces — hackerspaces, makerspaces, tech hubs, coworking spaces — and a common feature is the intense interaction among people with computers.