What even is a "maker"? How we see ourselves and how other people see us

A talk from EMF 2016 by Emma O'Sullivan

On Friday August 5, 2016 at in Stage C

There's been some big changes in the UK maker community over the past couple of years: the number of makerspaces and hackspaces around the country has mushroomed, private makerspaces have popped up in companies and universities, and "maker" has become a buzzword for corporate PR departments. Mainstream journalists and bloggers have started writing about us, giving people outside the maker community an impression of who we are and what we do without them ever setting foot in a hackspace or maker faire.

So are we still a DIY grassroots knowledge-sharing community? Are our hackspaces as open and inclusive as we think (or thought) they are? Do we still have the same values that we did when the first UK hackspaces opened seven years ago? And are most makers still white middle-class dudes?

In this talk I present the results-in-progress of my Masters research into the state of the UK maker community in 2016. It will be the result of conversations with makers from all areas of the community (hackspace members, FabLab staff, creative freelancers, university students, maker faire exhibitors), plus non-makers, to find out how we see ourselves and how other people see us. It's the first step in a larger research project to find out how we can make our community more inclusive and how we can reach under-represented audiences.