[SIGCIS-Members] CfP: Digital fabrications amongst hackers, makers and manufacturers: whose 'industrial revolution'?

Adrian Smith a.g.smith at sussex.ac.uk
Mon Feb 8 14:06:56 PST 2016

Track title: Digital fabrications amongst hackers, makers and manufacturers: whose 'industrial revolution'?

Co-convenors: Johan Söderberg, Maxigas, Adrian Smith

4S/EASST Conference: Science and technology by other means: exploring collectives, spaces and futures, 31 August to 3rd September, 2016, Barcelona

Abstract submission here:

Deadline for abstracts 21 February 2016

Our track brings critical analysis to the plurality of collectives, spaces and futures that are assembling around increasingly accessible digital design and fabrication technologies. Computer integrated tools hold particular  historical ironies and contradictions: early introduction threatened skills, livelihoods and identities amongst manufacturing communities – while they are celebrated today as enabling agency, identities and communities for makers. Both processes has been promoted as ’Industrial Revolutions’. STS has much to contribute to understanding, engaging and bridging digital fabrications. Conversely, apparent historical turnarounds in digital fabrication, with tools spilling into new collectives and spaces, offers an opportunity to interrogate STS theory and methodology.

Fifty years ago, social ecologist Murray Bookchin, like other commentators welcomed a future in which collectives would own tools and organise production non-hierarchically around ‘liberatory technologies’. Does grassroots appropriation of digital fabrication in hackerspaces, makerspaces and amongst user groups online, mean his future for egalitarian tool-based creativity arrived? Or do digital fabrication futures reinforce the automation, flexible specialisation, and globalised outsourcing documented by David Noble in the 1980s, and that hasbeen a driver for the technology amongst manufacturing strategists since then? How do the collectives and spaces pursuing these different futures intersect, contest, and co-exist?

In analysing digital fabrications, we are particularly interested in the critical voicesposing unsettling questions:

* Who controls the platforms underpinning these activities and their connections, and how doesthis influence the spaces for peer production, and the terms for private appropriation?
* What senses of humanity are invigorated, and which excluded, from the political imaginaries, utopias, dystopias, and ideologies embodied in digital fabrication technologies?
* How does the materiality of digital fabrications connect to the values of sustainable developments?
* Where does the figure of the hacker – forever opening-up technologies - lurk in these collectives and spaces; and what has hacker culture mobilised and been appropriated by these collectives?
* When and where will future industrial conflicts arise: what are the political and economic relations at stake between these collectives, spaces and futures?

We welcome papers that provide critical reviews, original empirical study, and theoretical development relevant to digital fabrications.
Adrian Smith<http://www.sussex.ac.uk/bmec/internal/people/spru/person/16347/research>
Professor of Technology & Society
SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit)
University of Sussex

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