Civic Practices, Design, and Makerspaces | new book chapter

Abstract from my new book chapter (In Press), in Negotiating Digital Citizenship: Control, Contest and Culture edited by Anthony McCosker, Sonja Vivienne and Amelia Johns (Rowman and Littlefield 2016):

Makerspaces have helped frame processes of design, adaptation, and the repair of things and systems—hardware, software, networks, tools, food, currencies, energy,  bacteria—as social activities (Sleigh et al., 2015). Makerspaces have also been revealed as sites that encourage self-directed civic practices and the assembling of new civic identities, or DIY citizenship (Nascimento, 2014; Toombs et al., 2014; Kubitschko, 2015; Shea, 2015; Hunsinger and Schrock, 2016). This chapter offers an additional contextual review and further evidence of emergent civic practices linked to makerspaces, focusing attention on peace-building projects in Northern Ireland. It specifically examines the role of design and material engagement in the performance of these ethical and social interventions. The study elucidates how the propagation of alternative thinking and responsible action in Northern Ireland’s makerspaces is challenging normative understandings of civic participation.

Full pre-press chapter available here >

Maker Assembly Sheffield — Save the Date

Maker Assembly Sheffield has a confirmed date of 31st August 2016. The event will be hosted by Roco.

If you’re interested in speaking, get in touch with the organisers. Find out some of the ideas they're interested in by looking at the follow-up from their planning meetup in April, or checking out the London or Belfast events.

Building (critical) futures of making and peace in Northern Ireland - @codekat blog

Critics of the World, Create!

The fiinal session of Maker Assembly NI is to be a making exercise, inspired by the Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s (2012) Creative Media Manifesto and Garnet Hertz’s Critical Making zine series. Facilitator: Pip Shea (Farset Labs)


Collaborative task: to make a Critical Making zine

Output per person: 1 x A4 sheet

Making time: 1 hour

Zine categories:

Open Source



Garnet Hertz, Critical Making zine PDFs

Sarah Kember & Joanna Zylinska

- Culture Machine special issue: Creative Media (open access)

- Creative Media between Invention and Critique, or What's Still at Stake in Performativity? (open access)

Crafting, Making, Hacking Research - Zotero bibliography

Maker Assembly NI: session provocations

1: Making & Peace Building

Kicking off Maker Assembly NI is a session about the politics and nuances of community-facing digital fabrication projects. It will look at how maker cultures are emerging at the grassroots and how local organisations are contributing to the peace-building project currently underway in Northern Ireland. It hopes to reveal how the idea of ‘critical making’ can be adjusted to suit the specificities of different contexts.

Speakers: Adam Wallace & Eamon Durey (Fab Labs NI), John Peto (Nerve Centre)

2: Speculative Making: New Contexts and Futures

As the idea of digital making beds down—and practices become more visible and accessible—what new trajectories are emerging and how are speculative futures being framed? This session hopes to reveal the supports we might need to maintain a critical forecast of making and maker culture.

Speakers: Nora O’Murchu (University of Limerick), Kat Braybrooke (University of Sussex)

3: Governance, Sustainability & Maker Networks    

How are maker networks nurtured and sustained? And how ‘critical' are the governance strategies of the physical spaces and networked platforms that mediate maker networks? This session hopes to somewhat unravel the entanglements of people, places, and things, to better understand how maker culture is being facilitated.

Speakers: Javier Burón (Fab Lab Limerick & Colaborativa), Hannah Stewart (Royal College of Art, Future Makerspaces Project)

4: Critics of the world, create!

Final session to be a making exercise, inspired by the Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s (2012) Creative Media Manifesto and Garnet Hertz’s Critical Making zine series.

Facilitator: Pip Shea (Farset Labs)


Maker Assembly NI: speakers announced


I'm excited to announce our speakers for Maker Assembly NI, a one-day gathering to critically discuss maker culture: its meaning, politics, history and future. Our event is a regional take on Maker Assembly UK, a gathering hosted by the V&A in late 2015.


Hosted by Farset Labs, this event is specifically focused on challenging the conceived wisdom and public perceptions about the nature of making, hacking, building, and sharing.

Fibreculture Issue 26: Entanglements—activism and technology

I am very pleased to announce that a Fibreculture Journal issue I edited with Tanya Notley and Jean Burgess has been published. This issue explores the entanglements that arise due to frictions between the philosophies embedded within technologies and the philosophies embedded within activism.

It includes ten academic journal papers as well as seven invited articles from practitioners who are working on the very front lines of activism and technology. This section for practitioners is a first for the Fibreculture Journal. These articles allow us to better understand the decisions made by organisations and activists who are leading debates, negotiations and discussions and from those who have most at stake because they depend on technology working and working well for activism.

Contributors: Sam Gregory, Maya Ganesh, Stephanie Hankey, Ivan Sigal, Ellery Biddle, Jillian C. York, Nathalie Maréchal, Zara Rahman, Zamzam Fauzanafi, Katie Ellis, Gerard Goggin, Mike Kent, Laura Forlano, Megan Halpern, Robert Gehl, Adam Fish, Theresa Züger, Stefania Milan, Leonie Tanczer, Sky Croeser, Tim Highfield, Nathan Rambukkana, Becky Kazansky, Miriyam Aouragh, Seda Gurses, Jara Rocha, Femke Snelting, Megan Boler and Jennie Phillips.

Civic Media Project

The Civic Media Project is an online repository of civic media case studies, divided into four sections: Play + Creativity, Systems + Design, Learning + Engagement, Community + Action. I wrote one about the Farset Labs makerspace in Belfast: DIY Citizenship in the “New Northern Ireland”: the Case of a Belfast Makerspace

How to weigh a cloud by Sean Cubbit

"The cloud is not weightless: it is a heavy industry. Add in the metals and plastics, the hydro dams, the thousands of miles of cables, the satellites and their rocket launches, and the millions of tons of electronic gadgets we use to access our movies – and the cloud looks a little less fluffy."

How to weigh a cloud.

The Street Sound Activist’s Toolkit

"The fundamental reason why I work with these “street interventions”, using the Anthropomorpher as a tool for inviting passers by in the street to make collective improvisations on the street’s sounds, is because I want to ignite a trend where people start making sound art as street art. There is no official name for this, – I have suggested ‘fonografiti’ (intended misspelling), ‘proto urban folklore’, or ‘soundtagging’."

The street sound activist’s toolkit | Akutsk.

Free PDF: Co-Creating Knowledge Online

Co-Creating Knowledge Online is the second booklet in a series of Internet field guides (formerly "critical guides") I have developed for community artists and culture makers. It is for those who are interested in better utilising the Internet to connect, share, and make new knowledge. It builds on the premise that people have become increasingly networked as individuals rather than in groups, and that these new ways of connecting enable new modes of peer-to-peer co-creation. It is an attempt to translate my PhD research findings for community arts practitioners, and was inspired by the practices of CuriousWorks.

The booklet is available as a free PDF. The guide is CC licensed for re-purposing. Enjoy!



Free PDF: Appropriate Approaches to Online Community

Appropriate Approaches to Online Community is the title of the first booklet in a series of critical guides I have been developing for community artists. It is an experiment that attempts to translate some of my PhD research findings. The booklet was inspired and informed by a period of fieldwork at CuriousWorks.

The guide explores multiple aspects of making online community networks, so that practitioners might develop appropriate Internet practices – network solutions that take the specific needs of individuals and communities in to consideration. The guide promotes critical approaches to online community building, to encourage the continuation of creative practices beyond community arts projects.

The booklet is available as a free PDF.  The guide is also CC licensed for re-purposing.