Six thoughts on how to achieve global collaboration with digital fabrication

Its all about the documentation:

In order for people to build further upon the work that you create, they need to access it. So share your CAD files, machine settings, photos, screenshots and which materials you use.


Be empathic:

Think about how people perceive the knowledge that you share. What is the first thing people see when they open your CAD file? In which sequence does your photos tell the clearest story? Which information is superfluous? Too much information means no information.


Be prepared to accept the unexpected:

The golden rule of improv theatre is too accept whatever happens on stage. Otherwise the flow will get blocked when plot expectations don’t come through. Collaborative projects work the best when you open up for unexpected outcomes. If you have a very specific goal with a specific methodology, you will probably be better of paying people to execute your plans with you.


Finish your projects:

If you would like people to build further upon your work, it helps a lot if bring your work up to a specific goal and finish your documentation. Unfinished projects have a hard time being adopted in society.


Be like a sponge:

Before you start something from scratch, check if you can build on top of the work of others instead. The more inspiration and knowledge sources you absorb, they better creations you can expel. Embrace your sources and be generous with your credits.


Have fun:

Nobody likes a grumpy face, and play is the best way to learn. Don’t be afraid to try out or propose silly ideas, it might lead to something spectacular. When you fail, document your failure so other people can learn from it too. Things that go wrong is comical, and humour brings about the best atmosphere.

Lecture open source and ego in the design process

The Prezi presentation from my lecture on open source design and the role of your designer ego at the Willem de Kooning Academy, march 15th 2012.

Thoughts from MIT FabLab Norway

Some reflections around FabLab business models, the challenges of sharing and what makes a FabLab a FabLab. This is the digested result of many interesting discussions with Haakon Karlsen and other members of his FabLab:

There seems to be one message that is rather unavoidable to receive at MIT FabLab Norway: “FabLab’s are an open network of people who wants to cooperate and share knowledge globally”. I don’t know how many times Haakon has said this in his life, but he could probably never say it enough.

Global sharing and cooperation seems to be as challenging as it sounds beautiful. The FabLab community might already be one of the most successful examples of global cooperation, but there are many obstacles. And it seems like we have only reached a minuscule tip of an iceberg of what is possible to achieve when we truly cooperate. I think there are two major factors that needs to be improved in order to ensure future growth in cooperation. The first is that a FabLab will always need to be funded indirectly from some sort of commercial activity. And secondly, in order to share knowledge, the knowledge needs to be communicated in a universal language that everyone can understand. Continue Reading →