In the past years, technology-related making and the related maker movement were paid particular attention in the worldwide public. Although making is not a new phenomenon, it gained an increased momentum due to the broad availability of digital fabrication technologies. Several different forms of maker spaces developed, characterized by the different maker communities who frequent them, and in turn, new communities arise from the continued formation of new makerspaces.
Access to making often leads to a multitude of opportunities, resulting in disadvantages for those being excluded from making. Even though technology-based makerspaces and Fablabs are being established in Austria, they are mainly situated in urban environments and it is likely that young men use them, rather than any other population, as evidenced by international research. However, this data rarely comes from Austria or Central Europe; furthermore, research has not provided a systematic investigation of encouraging factors that would support inclusive access to technology-driven making.
The proposed project aims to address this gap by investigating opportunities that would facilitate regional, inclusive access to making. In this research project, we expand our focus beyond educated, young men*, towards underrepresented groups – especially including women* and girls*. In order to do so, local conditions will be comprehensively studied and related to existing work and guidelines in that area. We will assess diverse makers’ (and makers-to-be) needs, preferences, and existing practices in order to create a set of interventions. These interventions will be explored in the field to define “best practices” that facilitate diverse ways of access to making and take into account the particularities of (Austrian) cultures and realities in urban and rural environments.
The future users* of makerspaces will benefit from the project outcomes by means of more inclusive and equal access to technology, as well as increased opportunities, to work on innovation processes. The project partners* can immediately use the project outcomes in further research projects, new services and future industry cooperation, as well as to address new target groups. Additionally, diversity in Fablabs and makerspaces can be enlightening and emancipating, and can therefore have lasting effects on socio-political democratic decision-making processes.
FEM*mad (FFG No. 873000) is part of the program “Talente” that is operated by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG. The financial support by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology is gratefully acknowledged.
Verena Fuchsberger is the primary investigator leading this project. She is a Postdoc at the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at the University of Salzburg. She focuses on the agency of human and non-human actors in HCI and interaction design – in particular, she is interested in the materiality of interactions. Verena has published on interaction Design, the future of work, the ageing society, grandparents-grandchildren relationships, materiality in HCI and interaction design and more.
Dorothé Smit is a PhD student with a focus on interaction design at the Center for Human-Computer Interaction. In her PhD-thesis, she concentrates on structures of embodied sensemaking, especially in situations where people might have difficulty understanding each other. Two focal points in this realm are interactions with VR-immersed persons, and sensemaking in second-language situations.
Alina Krischkowsky is a Post-Doc at the Center for Human-Computer Interaction. In her research, Alina explores the diversity of technology uses by looking at unintended ways of how people use technology, involving theoretical accounts towards technology appropriation and technology non-use. She has published on technology appropriation, corporate media use, or the future of practice-based computing.
Thomas Meneweger is a research fellow and PhD student at the Center for Human-Computer Interaction. Within his dissertation he explores workers’ experiences and work practices in increasingly automated and interconnected work and production environments (e.g., semiconductor factory, assembly lines, truck driving) by means of ethnographic approaches (observations and interviews).
Georg Regal has many years of experience in the area of User Centered Design. As Interaction Designer, he occupies himself with Critical Making and Prototyping Techniques. During the project, Georg will actively contribute to the participatory co-creation of the design interventions.
In 2009, Stefanie Wuschitz founded the feminist hackerspace Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory in Vienna, encouraging art and technology that is developed from a female perspective. In 2014 she finished her PhD with the title ‘Feminist Hackerspaces. A Research on Feminist Space Collectives in Open Culture’ at the Vienna University of Technology. During this project, Stefanie will bring gender expertise to the table in the preparation of studies, the direction of co-design workshops, and the evaluation of the design interventions.
Taguhi Torosyan (b. 1987 Yerevan, Armenia) is a media ecologist, curator and researcher based in Vienna. She is a member of Mz* Baltazar’s Laboratory and an MA candidate in Media Arts Cultures at Donau Universität Krems (AT), Aalborg University (DK) and University of Lódź, (PL). She is a graduate of Critical & Curatorial Studies program at AICA-Armenia. Taguhi formerly curated Nest Artists Residency / ICA Yerevan and was a visiting professor at the Department of Art History, Theory and Management at Yerevan State Institute of Theatre and Cinematography.
Recent residencies, projects and collaborations include Xenotopia, Fabryka Sztuki, Lódź Poland (2019), apexart fellowship, NYC (2018), Politics of the Machines – Art and After, EVA Copenhagen (2018), RE:TRACE International Conference for Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology (2017).
Karim Jafarmadar is one of the co-founders of Happylab, a fablab with more than 2000 active members. Happylab will be one of the locations that will function as a test bed for the design interventions that will be developed throughout this project.
Chris Riedlsperger is the lab manager of Happylab Salzburg. This fablab will be one of the locations that will function as a test bed for the design interventions that will be developed throughout this project.