Why ten-year forecasts from American futurologists of the Institute for the Future who are presiding over a Wikipedia for makers are not in the least far-fetched.
Concocted by the Institute for the Future (IFTF), a Californian prospective think tank created in 1969, the Ten-Year Forecast project (#10YF2014) brought out ten innovative ideas that could well see the light of day within the next ten years and “potentially change the world”, no less. If planing the end of prisons or imagining towns of the future printed in 3D is flirting with utopia, the Wikipedia for Making project, a “universal grammar” for the use of makers, relies on the observation of the widespread enthusiasm for DiY culture and the growth of online learning communities such as WikiHow and Instructables. The IFTF explains that “These new ways of collaborating, sharing and creating will remodel production [methods] and the way we resolve basic human issues such as nutrition, accommodation, energy and communication”.
The idea is not new but is gaining ground. The organisers readily acknowledge finding their inspiration directly from GitHub, the open source programming social platform created in 2008. GitHub allows the community of developers to duplicate and modify any source code before giving it back to the community so that others may adapt them as they see fit. At the end of 2013, GitHub announced it had reached 10 million submissions of all types: legal documents as well as… recipes.
And what about makers in all this? The “Wikipedia for Making” project surfaced during the #10YF2014 thanks to Dominic Muren, guest on this occasion. This all-rounder from Seattle, creator of The Humblefactory lab, has been working for three years on Alchematter, a platform to share processes for open source production of objects.
The futurologists from IFTF are counting on a mix of efficiency at the GitHub and of creativity at the Alchematter, all this in a method that would use a standardised structure in the Wikipedia manner in order to “encourage people to describe and share their production recipes by using the basic grammar created”.
Difficult to predict who will carry the day, a Wikipedia type foundation or FabFoundation, the initiator of the fablab charter and Fabconferences that has just announced at FAB10 the launch of Fabshare.org. Unless one looks towards wiki Appropedia, more focused on sustainable development, as the researcher and developer Tim McCormick signals on Twitter. No need for a crystal ball or endless brainstorming sessions: the expansion logic of DiY will involve the emergence of a “Makypedia” whatever the form. Makers did not wait for the centralised initiatives to share their know-how. It remains to be seen who will put it into orbit. With the hope that it does not take 10 years to be available.