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HSS8121: 3 – Making in Public: Practices in Creative Research and Maker Culture

Aims:

In this session we will:

  • Examine the meaning of maker culture or maker movement
  • Look at some of the practices regarding making in the public influenced by research
  • Discuss our perspective on public making as creative makers

 

Link from previous sessions

 

What have you seen up until now in this module?

  • Theoretical approaches to the public – foundation
  • From art in the public realm to the civic agency in hybrid spaces

Lessons learnt up to now? How do you apply them in your practice and behaviour?

This is what today’s lecture is going to focus on. Focusing on the makers’ culture and creative research practices and behaviour.

Creative Research Practices

Helen Kara (2015) classifies creative research methods into four key areas:

1. Arts-based research

  • Draw on forms of creative writing and/or the visual arts (drawing, painting, collage, photography etc) or infused with more artistic angle they incorporate music, drama, textile arts (i.e. sculptures).
  • However, the product/artwork is not necessarily experienced in the same way by everyone, leading to multiple perspectives for an item. This comes in contrast with traditional research views where an object can have a single meaning.

2. Research using technology

  • Examples include research through social media, through the use of mobile devices, apps.
  • ‘Technology itself has an influence on people’s creativity, yet the role of technology in the creative process has not yet been fully understood or theorised’. This may neglect what some disciplines say about how new technologies relate to innovative socio-cultural practices with direct implications for research methods.
  • Some fear that technology will change their research practice, and it will, though this seems not a cause for fear, but for care and thought on how to direct the change.

3. Mixed-methods research

  • Mixed methods are perhaps the most well-established approach.
  • But the potential – and the risks – of mixing methods are still not understood by most researchers. People often think in terms of gathering data using both quantitative and qualitative methods, but there is so much more scope for mixing, from using different theoretical perspectives to inform the same piece of research to multi-media presentation and dissemination.

4. Transformative research frameworks (such as participatory, decolonising, or community-based methods)

  • These are frameworks designed to reduce power imbalances within the research process and, ideally, to affect structural inequalities more widely.
  • They are challenging to implement, requiring more time and other resources than more traditional frameworks for research, but when used well they can indeed transform aspects of our society for the better.

Resources:

  • H. Kara, Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practical Guide, 2015]

“Creative is not directly synonymous with ‘innovative'”.

Maker Culture or Movement

So what do we define as maker culture? What is new?

Maker culture focuses on using and learning practical skills and then applying them creatively to different situations. Maker culture draws upon a more participatory approach than traditional learning, encouraging learners to collaboratively engage with others as they learn through the creation of new items (Sharples et al., 2013). Maker culture draws upon a social constructivist perspective which emphasises the social, cultural, and historical factors of experiences (Vygotsky, 1979) as well as a constructionist view on learning (Papert, 1993), which examines the tangible items that are created through learners working within their environments.

People of the maker era are a diverse group including those using 3D printers to create toys, instruments, and weapons; those who experiment with the modification of household items such as retrofitting these items with sensors and Internet connectivity; and those who craft one-of-a-kind designs, such as clothing or furniture, for production on demand (Morozov, 2014)

Maker Culture

The maker culture is a contemporary culture or subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hacker culture(which is less concerned with physical objects as it focuses on software) and revels in the creation of new devices as well as tinkering with existing ones.

Maker Movement

The maker movement is a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.

Even President Obama alluded to the Maker Movement in a speech at the National Sciences Academy’s Annual meeting in 2009 when he remarked:

I want us all to think about new and creative ways to engage young people in science and engineering, whether it’s science festivals, robotics competitions, fairs that encourage young people to create and build and invent – to be makers of things, not just consumers of things.

 

Maker Education

“Maker education is a new education model which integrates information technologies, adheres to the education ideas of open innovation and exploration experience, uses creation-based learning as the main learning style, and finally focuses on cultivating more innovative talents.” (Xianmin & Jihong, 2015)

Two of the core concepts underlying maker education are learning by doing and constructionism.

“However, maker could be a deformed technology culture for excessive emphasis on the value of products and ignoring the existence value of non-makers.” (Xianmin & Jihong, 2015)

Empowerment, Participation and Democracy

Making has transformed from a fringe and hobbyist practice into a professionalizing field and an emerging industry. Enthusiasts laud its potential to democratize technology, improve the workforce, empower consumers, encourage citizen science, and contribute to the global economy. DIY making is often described as open to anyone, a practice that broadens participation by empowering everyone: makers and users, rich and poor, men and women, young and old. Advocates of DIY promise to turn passive consumers into active participants in state affairs and the market economy as well as revamp a broken educational system through hands-on learning. [Ames et al., 2014]

Currently “empowerment” is the term favoured to convey the idea of people becoming the agents of their own development. Normatively, saying that people have been “empowered” means that they have become better able to shape their own lives, which is a goal that everyone has reason to value. From a more empirical perspective, “empowerment” means gaining a number of factors that make this goal achievable. [Drydyk, 2010]

Another virtue of participation is that it can make a development process more democratic. More precisely, some participatory practices make development decision-making function more democratically. [Drydyk, 2010]

“The quality of participation, depends on its initial entry point” (Goulet 1995, 95).

Communities of Practices, Communities of Interest, Participatory Design, Capacity Development etc.: First stage of these approaches is a needs assessment, identifying stakeholder – not only those whose needs or practices are at the centre of the design, but also potential external stakeholders who could be affected by the aims of the project. So in this manner, you create a consultative forum, where all stakeholders are represented, to contribute to verifying the needs of the project and setting objectives.

The case of Young Company (@ Northern Stage).

 

Student-Led Seminar (17/04/2018)

Suggested Reading Material:

15 min presentations:

  • Pete – How are maker projects and makers legitimated? Who gets to make these decisions?
  • Nick (Ning An) – In which ways does DIY making extend existing systems of power and divisions of labor?
  • Katharine – What are the possible synergies between critical making, critical technical practice and commercial explorations in making cultures?
  • Benazir – Who is drawn into the making movement, who is excluded or stays away, and why?

HSS8121: Research Proposal presentation

presentation

presentation

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