The great annual get-together of labs returns to its roots, in Boston, birthplace of the MIT and the Fab Foundation. FAB 11, the 11th worldwide fablab conference, is expecting more than 10,000 people from the 3rd to the 9th of August.
11 years have gone by since the first annual fablab get-together that took place within the walls of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, United-States. “And yet, at the time, there was only a bunch of us sitting round a table and chatting”, likes to recall Neil Gershenfeld, initiator of the famous MIT course “How to make (almost) anything”, at the root of the very first fablab. “And we obviously had no idea the movement would spread so fast.”
Even though the tenth anniversary was celebrated in Barcelona last year (we were there), the Fab Foundation wanted to return to Boston, within the walls of the MIT, to mark the occasion.
“We are full with over 800 people enrolled, we have reached the limit of the MIT Media Lab capacity” explains Sarah Boisvert, member of the Fab11 organisation team. And it is only for the working week dedicated to fablab members. The symposium on Thursday, dedicated to conferences, already has 1,200 registrations of people who will indiscriminately come to listen to fablab founders, the maker bosses of Littlebits, Instructables or still Formlabs, but also a number of representatives of MIT, Google, Harvard, Uber, Samsung, Facebook…Well, between 5,000 and 10,000 visitors are expected for the general public Fab Festival of the weekend.
43 simultaneous workshops
The sequence of events remains faithful to the outline of fab conferences, and that, despite the increase in participants. Sherry Lassiter, president of the Fab Foundation, confided in Makery last year her fear that the conferences could become overcrowded and thus lose their family spirit, based on morning gym sessions (“Fabbersize”, see below), picnics… in favour of regional gatherings (like the French Fablab Festival). Apparently it will still hold for this time.
It will be a challenge though: with 40 simultaneous workshops every afternoon, 45 conference speakers, events spread out between Boston, Cambridge and Somerville…the recollection of the small bunch of people chatting around a table 11 years ago is further and further away. Proof that the fablab wave is keeping up with its forward momentum.