Making: On Being and Becoming Expert

Yana Boeva and Ellen Foster

pp. 65 - 74, download



Making is considered to be democratizing technology design and production. Yet, in many cases, in order to be a successful maker or have a rewarding maker experience, participants/makers need to bring in some form of expertise, creating both implicit and explicit barriers for differentiated publics to take part. We explore the literature and existing scholarship regarding expertise and making, using it to briefly contextualize our own research into maker programs in U.S. Libraries and design-focused fab labs. Both cases illustrate how the acquisition of expertise is also affected by community and learning environment dynamics. Through discussion we critically engage how mundane aspects of infrastructure relate to maker notions of expertise, the Maker Movement’s claims of broad participation toward democratization, and the contextual dimensions of expertise.

Keywords: making, expertise, non-experts, democratization, participation.


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