Fab Lab Community as Hybrid Innovation Ecology for the Peer Production of Physical Goods

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* Paper: Commons-based Peer-Production of Physical Goods. Is there Room for a Hybrid Innovation Ecology? By Peter Troxler, Square One, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

URL = http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/Troxler-Paper.pdf


"This paper examines how in commons-based peer-production of physical goods a hybrid, private-collective innovation ecology is developing. Using the Fab Lab community as the field of investigation, it collates three studies: a survey of Fab Lab business models, an interview study asking Fab Lab managers and assistants about the pain and pride of their Fab Lab, and a selection of cases describing innovation in Fab Lab projects. The paper finds that there is a desire and intention to establish a hybrid innovation ecology in the Fab Lab community, but that Fab Labs have not yet established business models that would e.g. replicate the known models from open source software. However, the studies indicated the possibility of such models. The paper finally puts the results in perspective to the free fabbing ecology, and the wider context of peer production of physical goods." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/Troxler-Paper.pdf)



By Peter Troxler:

"First there was a digital revolution in communication (from analogue to digital telephony) that eventually cumulated in mobile communication and convergence of media. Then there was a second digital revolution in computation (from analogue to digital computers), that eventually made personal computers possible and lead to a convergence of communication and computing. The next digital revolution, according to Gershenfeld (2005), is in the field of manufactured physical goods with the emergence of digital personal fabrication or ‘fabbing’.

In this paper, I’ll investigate how this third digital revolution, the emergence of fabbing and its adoption in the commons-based peer-production of physical goods influences how we go about innovation, particularly if and how a hybrid innovation ecology could develop or could be developed.

First, I’ll be looking into the world of fabbing, commons-based peer-production of physical goods. I’ll briefly describe its roots and its analogy to open source software production. I’ll show how wide-spread fabbing is today and I’ll propose a conceptual map to describe some of the fabbing communities.

I then go on to ask how open source and innovation are related and how far innovation research today understands the contribution of open source to innovation in general, and more specifically, in the area of physical goods, of manufacturing and fabbing.

This leads me to my research questions, design and methods; a way to gain more in-depth understanding about business models in commons-based peer-production.

I’ll report from three studies I carried out in this context, first a survey of Fab Lab business models, second an interview study asking Fab Lab managers and assistants about the pain and pride of their Fab Lab, and third a selection of five case studies describing innovation in Fab Lab projects." (http://wikis.fu-berlin.de/download/attachments/59080767/Troxler-Paper.pdf)

Survey of Commons-Based Peer Production of Physical Goods

Click on the section title such above.

Overview graphic: see also Figure 1: An attempt at mapping the Fabbing world, page 4 of the document

Business Models of Fab Labs

Click on the section title such above.

Study results indicate "a distinction between Fab Labs that are focusing on supporting innovation, and those that primarily offer the lab as a production facility.

More Information

Contact author via [email protected]


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