The Maker movement frees a world of bureaucratic red tape

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November 29, 2021 | Innovative environments in which people experiment and make products together seem to have the added value of open science, but many of those involved in these types of initiatives do not for this reason. Even for the scientists who take part in this, it’s about fun and freedom, not science, according to research by Maastricht University and the University of Bologna.

Haro van Lente, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Maastricht University, jointly with Federico Ferretti of the University of Bologna check up how movement maker It could find a place within national and European science policy. This cultural movement or trend consists of individuals who become makers and end users of products, finding each other in them. This happens in so-called innovation hubs, which can be in the form of community centres, companies or university environments. Policy makers see a major role for this movement in both open science and citizen science, although participants in movement maker They see their work as essentially a hobby.

Learning together by doing

Within a subculture movement maker People learn by doing. No omniscient teacher imparts knowledge; Everyone learns by experience and trying things. People come together in a learning environment and together look at what they are doing, and then either build on it or choose a different direction.

from movement maker It was first described for open source Programming description. Programmers use it to create programs that others can modify and extend their coding. The program itself is also open for use by everyone. Meanwhile, the movement has also moved into workshops, community centers and so-called fab labs and workshops with all sorts of advanced equipment to conduct technical experiments.

However, some researchers argue that environments in which people gather to build and experiment have always existed, and that movement maker So it is not new. However, more and more new literature is now available on the usefulness of the movement in education. For example, schools can visit learning environments to show how experiments are conducted. Work and work in practice also have a proven positive effect on children. In addition, the European Union sees these learning environments as an ideal environment in which people can learn about science through so-called non-formal education outside the school environment.

Participants do not want bureaucracy

However, research shows that although there are often positive results from movement maker Come on, the real added value is the fun of it. Even the scientists and researchers who are part of the movement don’t see it as real science. For example, they are not published in well-known trade journals, but on open platforms. However, this also entailed a way to avoid the red tape that many scholars within the academy had to deal with. In addition, the interviewees indicated that in such an environment it is much easier to share successes and failures as well, so that everyone learns from each other’s mistakes.

Formal science projects often lack this freedom. Therefore, participants cite freedom as a major advantage of the movement. Openness and automatic accessibility ensure that sharing results with the community becomes easier, too. In the movement maker In addition, researchers write, it often centers around local problems. makers meeting places manufacturing spaces, are seen as ecosystems for creativity and collaboration, all focused on a single solution.

Policy makers want to join the Maker movement

These kinds of initiatives seem to policy makers beneficial to science, for example under the umbrella of Open Science. In doing so, policy makers primarily want to ensure that the average citizen is also aware and can contribute ideas about developments in science. In addition, this additional participation by outsiders can actually lead to more knowledge or alternative views and methods.

Moreover movement maker It is in contact with policy makers, both at the national level and at the EU level, but the connection is poor, the research shows. Policymakers show an interest in the movement and are happy to catalyze it with funding, but this is automatically offset by certain expectations – something movement maker It is not really appreciated. Because of expectations from above, a from top to down approach, the movement will become more and more institutionalized, which is directly inconsistent with Progressive The way makers usually work.

Financing Progressive The project is also a difficult topic. Policy makers prefer to invest in projects that have the highest chance of achieving a positive outcome. This is in movement maker However, they cannot be predicted in advance, because most experiences do not lead to anything and any success is often a coincidence. One of the interviewees said, “If an accountant came and asked us what we did with the money, there would be no clear answer.”

The network is also the result

Such as movement maker A greater role must be given to formal and organized science, and the researchers concluded that other evaluation criteria must be introduced. this is how you become manufacturing spaces It is characterized by intense cooperation with various parties who all learn from each other and with each other. Cultural exchange and activity occur in these informal ecosystems. This leads not to quantitative results, but to networks of communication with like-minded people. The interviewees see the need for this; They believe that these networks sometimes lead to better collaboration than collaboration within academia.

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