Maker Culture and HCI


I’ve recently had the opportunity to do some ethnographic work at the intersection between Human Computer Interaction and Maker and DIY Culture.  In many ways, Maker Culture is a testbed for the future of civilization:  it is a living, breathing laboratory for exploring new relationships to technology, new modes of production and dissemination of manufactured goods, new local approaches to infrastructure management, new forms of education and civic participation, and new sustainable approaches to electronic waste, food production, and energy generation.  What makes all of this so remarkable is that it is happening in a bottom-up, distributed fashion, with roots in local community organizations rather than large research labs and universities.

My work looks at Maker Culture from three perspectives:

  1. The role of sub-cultural identities and values in imagining new relationships with technology.  This work includes research into Steampunk making communities, as a way of looking at how maker practice articulates a particular ethos towards technology.
  2. Making as a form of radical political resistance.  This work considers how contemporary DIY practices can be seen as re-imagining some of the fundamental infrastructures of the Industrial Era, while also remaining dependent on the economies of scale that those infrastructures have created.
  3. Envisioning the future of home fabrication technology.  This work considers how Fabrication and Replication have been represented in Science Fiction, and envisions new scenarios to help understand possible futures for 3D printers as household appliances.

Related Publications

  • Tanenbaum J., Tanenbaum K., (forthcoming, 2014) Fabricating Futures: Envisioning Scenarios for Home Fabrication Technology. To appear in Creative Technologies: Create and Engage Using Art and Play (Nelson Zagalo & Pedro Branca, eds.). Springer-Verlag, London
  • Williams, A., Tanenbaum, J. (2012) Palettes, Punchcards and Politics: Beyond Practicality and Hedonism.  In Critical Making.