THE DISRUPTIVE GEOPOLITICS OF OPEN SOURCE HARDWARE: DO-CRACY OF THE PROTOTYPES

TitleTHE DISRUPTIVE GEOPOLITICS OF OPEN SOURCE HARDWARE: DO-CRACY OF THE PROTOTYPES
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Kera, D.
Affiliation (1st Author)National University of Singapore
Section or WGCommunication Policy and Technology
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCPTT3a
Slot Code (Keyword)CPTT3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomQG13
Session TitlePANEL Disruption Through (Co)Creativity: Promises and Perils of Globalized Open- Source Hardware Movements
Submission ID6403
Abstract

Different hacker, maker, and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) activities in recent years shape a global culture with alternative networks of production and sharing, which can serve conflicting needs and goals of various grassroots communities around the world. On one side, we can witness pragmatic responses and projects enabling communities to become more resilient and better informed: Open Source Geiger counters, which help grassroots radiation monitoring in Japan (Tokyo Hackerspace and Safecast ), or DIY Drones supporting citizen journalism in Slovakia (Progressbar OccuCopter ). On the other side, many projects remain ambiguous, and they tend to question and mock the effects of particular technology and politics and to test the comfort levels of humans around various intrusive and emergent technologies: the pizza printer in London Hackerspace is an amusing but also ominous look into the future of junk food merging with robotics. These global and disruptive prototypes furthemore question the common geopolitical divisions and divides (between China and U.S. or developing and developed countries, consumers and producers) and embrace a strange geek diplomacy and do-ocracy. We will call them “disruptive prototypes” because they disrupt the usual innovation but also “adoption cycle” (Rogers) and they merge users with developers, but also markets with communities. They do not follow the common trajectory from the science lab to the design and engineering studio, manufacturing facility, and then to the sales department, from where we can follow the adoption cycle in the society.  The prototypes and kits created in the hackerspaces and open biology labs around the world decentralize and open the process of development, but also testing, modifying, and adopting  of particular technology to a truly global community of hackers, makers, and enthusiasts with various needs, concerns, and goals. This opens a possibility for plural policies and adoptions to occur, where specific communities in different regions can shape the design to serve their own needs. In the presentation I will compare several prototypes from Indonesia, Japan, China and Czech Republic to show the different forms of community building around emergent technologies and the present convergence of design and policy.

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