DIY Citizenship

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= conference and book related to Critical Making


* Book: DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. by Matt Ratto


"Today, DIY—do-it-yourself—describes more than self-taught carpentry. Social media enables DIY citizens to organize and protest in new ways (as in Egypt’s “Twitter revolution” of 2011) and to repurpose corporate content (or create new user-generated content) in order to offer political counternarratives. This book examines the usefulness and limits of DIY citizenship, exploring the diverse forms of political participation and “critical making” that have emerged in recent years. The authors and artists in this collection describe DIY citizens whose activities range from activist fan blogging and video production to knitting and the creation of community gardens.

Contributors examine DIY activism, describing new modes of civic engagement that include Harry Potter fan activism and the activities of the Yes Men. They consider DIY making in learning, culture, hacking, and the arts, including do-it-yourself media production and collaborative documentary making. They discuss DIY and design and how citizens can unlock the black box of technological infrastructures to engage and innovate open and participatory critical making. And they explore DIY and media, describing activists’ efforts to remake and reimagine media and the public sphere. As these chapters make clear, DIY is characterized by its emphasis on “doing” and making rather than passive consumption. DIY citizens assume active roles as interventionists, makers, hackers, modders, and tinkerers, in pursuit of new forms of engaged and participatory democracy."


Ellen Forsyth:

"This is a really interesting read. The rating of three indicates the varying interest of the chapters. Some were amazing, and for others, I was not the right reader for them, or the time was not right.

One quote from the book is: "Online knitting community sites such as Ravelry, have also facilitated and energised new and existing offline "stitch n bitch" groups, pub knitting circles, fibre festivals, and knit meets providing a range of virtual and physical sites for participating in knitting as a shared, collaborative, and public activity. At both ends of this spectrum of leisure and activist knitting, technology use goes hand in hand with craft. Knitting, alongside online articulations and representation so knitting, are seen as recursive digital/social practices, connecting material and physical activities with social networking, microblogging, and face-to-face interaction".

This quote highlights some key themes shown in several chapters which are the key use of social media and online interactions with offline activities. There is the exploration of "digitally mediated maker identity" which uses digital spaces and interactions "extending the boundaries of their physical artifacts into digital realm as a conscious, reflexive activity".

GLobal connections are explored, as a very local initiatives. Some chapters report on existing practices and analysis of them, others describe one off projects designed to explore ideas in this area. Gardens, zines, electronics and much more are explored in this work." (


Conference: DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs. University of Toronto, Nov 12-14, 2010


"A renewed emphasis on participatory forms of digitally-mediated production is transforming our social landscape. Making has become the dominant metaphor for a variety of digital and digitally-mediated practices. The web is exploding with independently produced digital content such as video diaries, conversations, stories, software, music, video games ”all of which are further transformed and morphed by modders,hackers, artists and activists who redeploy and repurpose corporately-produced content. Equally, communities of self-organized crafters, hackers, and enthusiasts are increasingly to be found online exchanging sewing and knitting patterns, technical guides, circuit layouts, detailed electronics tutorials and other forms of instruction and support. Many of these individuals and collaborators understand their work to be socially interventionist. Through practices of design, development, and exchange they challenge traditional divides between production and consumption and to redress the power differentials built into technologically-mediated societies.

DIY Citizenship invokes the participatory nature of these diverse do-it-yourself modes of engagement, community, networks, and tools”all of which arguably replace traditional with remediated notions of citizenship. The term critical making refers to the increasing role making plays in critical forms of social reflection and engagement.

This interactive conference seeks to extend conversations about new modes of engaged DIY citizenship and politics evidenced by the exponential increase of DIY media,user-generators , prosumers, hacktivists, tactical media interventionists, and other maker identities. We invite scholars, activists, artists, designers, programmers and others interested in the social and participatory dimensions of digitally-mediated practices, to engage in dialogue across disciplinary and professional divides. All methodological and theoretical approaches are welcomed. Submissions may include paper proposals, works of art and/or design, short video or audio segments, performances, video games, digital media, or other genres and forms. Potential topics include: the relation between social media and the making of new forms of citizenship engagement”thus, for example, making movements; making community; making news; making play; making bodies; making health; making public; making education; making networks."

More Information

For the full conference call, see:

Call for papers/presentations: due May 20, 2010

Plenary speakers include: Anne Balsalmo, Suzanne de Castell, Ron Deibert, Paul Dourish, Henry Jenkins, Jennifer Jenson, Natalie Jeremijenko, Steve Mann, Trebor Scholz.

Conference Organizers: Prof. Megan Boler, Associate Chair, Department of Theory and Policy Studies in Education, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto; Prof. Matthew Ratto Assistant Professor, Faculty of Information, University of Toronto; Director, Critical Making Lab, University of Toronto