Two terms now trending in design are "makers" and "smart cities". I've written previously on the latter—asking, "Who own's a smart city's intelligence?" And we have spent much of the past year thinking about the former—developing the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform with Panurban, a strategic design consultancy based in Paris. In November I tried to connect the two: giving a talk called "Makers for Productive Cities" for the Citisense conference, organized by the World Bank ahead of the annual Smart City Expo in Barcelona.
Partly the aim was to demystify the whole idea of "making" and show that it is less something new, and more part of a longer-term continuum of the human drive to make tools (most recently, the Back to the Earth and DIY movements). And partly we tried to tell the story of AMP—which has been an amazing journey: networking the energy, drive and intellect of the many young people who have participated in the makers' collective plus hundreds more in Agbogbloshie who are not online.
Watch the talk for an overview of the five lessons I shared from our experience:
1. It's your nature, to be a maker.
2. Making today is manu-digital.
3. Making as a process is community-driven.
4. Maker spaces are emergent.
5. Maker cities are mesh networks.
Plus it was a welcome chance to give shout-outs to some of our friends and the awesome groups doing amazing things that inspire us: the Creativity Group at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana (founded by Jorge Appiah); the WɔɛLab hackerspace in Lome, Togo (founded by Sename Koffi); and Maker Faire Africa (founders include Emeka Okafor, Jennifer Wolfe, Erik Hersman and a bunch of other incredible people); and Open Source Ecology in the USA and world-wide (founded by Marcin Jacubowski). (There are also video highlights from a panel discussing the "Internet of Everyone" as counterpoint to the "Internet of Things".)
We're in the final stages of prototyping the AMP makerspace. Will post updates as possible.