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Analysis Of Makers' Behaviors Within Different Maker Communities

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The rationale for this paper was to explore the behaviors of makers within maker communities (fluid and structured and regulated and unregulated) and how the type of community impacted collaboration and learning. Over 50 interviews were conducted among diverse individuals.

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Research Questions

Two key dimensions within maker communities were identified within this paper – fluid and structured and regulated and unregulated. In addition, three common aspects were identified among the 50+ interviews, which included togetherness, collaboration, and learning. The primary research of the study examined the three common aspects and how they existed within each of the two key dimensions. Findings: Within this paper, togetherness was not only viewed as “…a state of being physically or emotionally close to another person or people. ” but it took on a different meaning depending on maker space. Collaboration was viewed as “the process of making objects or products” which also included remixing as part of the collaboration process. Learning was viewed as more of a “community of practice” where groups of people were engaged in an ongoing basis with a common goal in mind. A fluid makerspace was characterized as “physical or virtual structures in flux” which can change at any time. A structured makerspace was characterized as “as physical or virtual spaces organized in a systematic way, and maintaining that structure for extended periods of time. ”

Regulated makerspaces were characterized as communities that have a specific set of rules and guidelines (informal and formal) of how people interact with each other within that space. An unregulated makerspace is characterized as a community “that have few formal regulations for use of tools and space, and a wide range of accepted social interaction. ” It was very important to establish the definitions and characterizations of each term used within the paper.

Interesting findings came out this study. Within a structured and regulated maker community, interviewees described the following:

  • Togetherness – was very welcoming
  • Collaboration – peer-production was not common, most projects were individual
  • Learning – Staff-learning facilitation was very prevalent and viewed as being very positive.

Within a fluid and unregulated maker community, interviewees described the following:

  • Togetherness – many members work alone
  • Collaboration – Peer-production collaboration rarely happened
  • Learning – makers embraced working alone as well as side by side resulting in a tight knit community.

Within a structured and unregulated maker community, interviewees described the following:

  • Togetherness – makers built upon each other’s projects in an online community (e. g. , Instructables), remixing was prevalent but as makers moved to more expert roles the move away from the online maker community
  • Collaboration – online creative collaboration was complicated, remixing in terms of collaboration was common practice
  • Learning – makers learned by sharing their project details online (Instructables) and received feedback.

Within a fluid and regulated maker community, interviewees described the following:

  • Togetherness – many members work alone, too much to actively participate in a fluid, public space
  • Collaboration – usually occurred in the form of asking questions and using online chat rooms to communicate, a very strong sense of community even though makers were not in the same physical space and/or location
  • Learning – easier to create a sense of community within a more regulated place (e. g. , chat rooms, online communication, etc. ), makers shared knowledge, projects, progress, and skills with each other.

Response

The organization of physical and online makerspaces and their similarities and differences were very interesting as they pertained to togetherness, collaboration, and learning. As I read through the paper I found myself trying to “categorize” the type of space that my colleague and are creating or the type of space we want it to morph into. I see many characteristics from each category currently existing within our space. What may be beneficial to us is to examine each community type to determine where we fit in and then determine what type of collaboration, learning, and togetherness outcomes we want to achieve. Physical and online spaces, proximity of features (e. g. , tools, resources, etc. ), and the barriers/partitions that each type of community affords, are necessary to understand when determining the difference between the various types of maker communities. We have to determine what we are, and what we want to accomplish.

15 April 2020

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