Journal of Peer Production, 5: Shared Machine Shops (2014)

2 November 2014, dusan

“Despite the marketing clangour of the “maker movement”, shared machine shops are currently “fringe phenomena” since they play a minor role in the production of wealth, knowledge, political consensus and the social organisation of life. Interestingly, however, they also prominently share the core transformations experienced in contemporary capitalism. The convergence of work, labour and other aspects of life — the rapid development of algorithmically driven technical systems and their intensifying role in social organisation — the practical and legitimation crisis of institutions, echoed by renewed attempts at self-organisation.

Each article in this special issue addresses a received truth which circulates unreflected amongst both academics analysing these phenomena and practitioners engaged in the respective scenes. Questioning such myths based on empirical research founded on a rigorous theoretical framework is what a journal such as the Journal of Peer Production can contribute to both academic and activist discourses. Shared machine shops have been around for at least a decade or so, which makes for a good time to evaluate how they live up to their self-professed social missions.”

Edited by Maxigas and Peter Troxler
Published in October 2014
Open Access
ISSN 2213-5316

View online (PDF and HTML articles)

Amy Sun: Jalalabad Fab Lab, Afghanistan: Annual Report (2009)

28 May 2011, dusan

In May 2008 a Fab Lab was installed in the village of Bagrami near Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, in eastern Afghanistan with funding from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER) program. This fab lab is a continuation of a program started in 2002 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA). Currently there are nearly 40 such labs in 11 countries interconnected by internet and broadband videoconference.

The goal of the Jalalabad Fab Lab was to investigate post-war and disaster recovery applications of digital fabrication to see how communities might benefit from access to on-demand, local, custom production capabilities rather than relying on long, slow, and expensive supply chains. The Jalalabad lab anticipated special emphasis on health care needs that require on-site customization for individuals.

We have established a fab lab that has become a community resource. After 8 months this resource show positive signs of becoming self-sustaining. There are community members that are learning basic economic and business principles by creating product in the lab for sale in local markets. In this informal setting, through hands-on projects and peer-to-peer learning structure, people are gaining technical knowledge and experience using state-of-the-art digital fabrication tools. This experience stimulates motivation to learn more deeply about science, math and engineering and develop skills that are valued around the world. Additionally we have established educational infrastructure that extend learning beyond what a fab lab can teach. We have also created a wireless network throughout the community that gives access to the internet, for free, opening up the vast knowldege resources that the internet offers, and providing a gateway to the rest of the world.

Fielding a fab lab in Jalalabad has shown that prototyping tools for digital fabrication can function in a post-war, community-stressed setting like Afghanistan and have significant, immediate applications. We’ve identified applications in Information Communications Technology (ICT), civil engineering, and first line health care that can benefit enormously from the capabilities in a fab lab.

Report written for National Science Foundation, April 2009
Center for Bits and Atoms, Massachusetts Institute of Technology