What does 2015 have in store for digital fabrication and labs? Experts, futurologists, fabmanagers and other DIY coders answered this question for Makery (part 2).
Bruce Sterling, @bruces
SF author, essayist, futurologist
“I predict less frenzy and more consolidation. I also predict that somebody will assemble a lot of these scattered products from all these labs and digital fabricators and will try to live with them in a real house.”
founder of Ouagalab (Burkina Faso)
“2015 is the year of concretization, a year when the technological revolution will overtake digital fabrication spaces. We had a dream in Burkina, and we designed a community that effectively applies concrete low-cost solutions, driven by sharing.”
Anna Waldman Brown, @annawab
executive director of Practical Education Network (United States)
“1. Movement toward more inclusive and diverse spaces: a number of recent studies/surveys are pointing out that makerspace demographics are heavily skewed towards males who are wealthy and well-educated, and there’s a growing backlash among women, minorities and underprivileged Makers.
2. Increasing corporate and government involvement worldwide, which leads to more funding along with a danger of the Maker Movement being co-opted by their philosophies. Brands all over the world are recognizing that handmade products are trendy these days, and they’re using the Maker movement to advertise. Governments want their citizens to stay up-to-date with the latest digital fabrication jobs, so they’re promoting more fablabs for education.
3. Continuation of the robot revolution: major hardware manufacturers are replacing thousands of factory workers with digital fabrication equipment, leading to fewer jobs for more educated people.”
founder of DoniLab (Mali)
“In Africa, precisely where I am, I believe there will be more labs, more people will be interested in this field. Some countries are more advanced than others, but the entire African continent is waking up.”
Jean-Louis Fréchin, @nodesign
“My wishes: from Lab to Fab, from narrative to products, from additive to subtractive, from possible to desirable, and lots of diversity. Last wish: that Fablabs and their spirit be the catalyst for reinventing professional teaching in France.”
News: http ://www.nodesign.net
co-founder of Sahel FabLab (Mauritania)
“2015 is the year of the fablab revolution in Africa. Sahel FabLab will be a part of it (we started the Jerry project, we’re going to make a solar oven”.
Jean-Michel Cornu, @jmichelcornu
scientific director of Fing, European expert on information society
“I see two things that could change the situation for labs in 2015 :
– Some makers begin to commercialize their innovations (like Emmanuel Gilloz’s Foldarap), along with all challenges of growing from a few pieces to a more regular production. We’ll need to invent new models, such as perhaps decentralizing fabrication over several labs, as well as new economic models.
– After France, fablabs will explode in francophone Africa, as already a dozen are scheduled to open this year (see InnovAfrica’s press release).”
News: scientific director of French Fondation pour l’Internet Nouvelle Génération (Fing) and (among others) co-founder of Correspondants.org, an international network of news correspondents reporting on applications of the Internet.
Camille Bosqué, @CamilleBosque
PhD student in aesthetics and design
If we continue to refer to Moore’s law, which according to Neil Gershenfeld applies to the worldwide FabLab movement, their number should once again double in 2015. So in a year, we would average about a thousand “official” FabLabs on the planet. (…) As they have grown more numerous, the FabLab in the strictest sense of the word has evolved! FabLab is now used to refer to co-working spaces, student labs, “alternative” R&D think-tanks within big corporations… These spaces do not have the same ambitions or the same ideologies. In France more than anywhere else, the word FabLab is still too often used to refer to collective workshops for fabrication (digital or not) or design that seek to position themselves outside the conventional framework. This may seem to be merely a question of nomenclature, but in the long run it could completely dilute the well-defined project of the FabLab network.
It’s great to see the Lab or maker movement grow considerably and work its way into multiple aspects of society: territorial policy, education and training, management of energy and the environment, entrepreneurship and art… France still has a role to play in this movement. During my various meetings with the big gurus of the FabLab network, I realized just how isolated the French FabLabs are from the historical international network… for many reasons, especially linguistic! But beyond that, we still need to find a balance between the values of sharing and free experimentation on which the movement is based, and the objectives of creating economic value and entrepreneurship that are gradually developing at the heart of certain “Labs”. New places in France that are no longer associations but private organizations, such as WoMa and Usine.io, which are close to the TechShop model, will probably initiate a shift in that direction.
My last prediction concerns the tools themselves and the future maker’s playing field: according to the MIT movement experts, soon there will be no difference between a BioLab and a FabLab. The equivalence between bits and atoms may not be established as early as 2015, but no doubt expanding spaces such as La Paillasse in Paris will be a breath of fresh air for DIY and personal fabrication.
News: Author of FabLabs, etc. Les nouveaux espaces de fabrication numérique, recently published by Eyrolles