Through November 2014 – April 2015, I worked with a co-researcher, Hannah Stewart, on a commission for Nesta, to map all of the makerspaces in the UK.
The UK has witnessed an explosion of makerspaces, fablabs, hackerspaces and community workshops, growing from a handful to nearly 100 in the last decade. Recognised as sites of civic and social innovation, creativity and learning, makerspaces are increasingly held up as potential game changers for design, entrepreneurship, fabrication, manufacturing, and technological innovation. Yet amidst this growth and promise, it can be difficult to understand the many different forms they take; to get a sense of the scale at which they are operating and the size of the movement in general.
Through a process of interviews and disk research, we built a comprehensive open data set, giving a snapshot of the state of makerspaces at this time. We cover issues from the technical (tools and materials available) to the social (challenges faced, membership profiles).
The data set has been released under an open licence, to enable others to adapt and build on our work, alongside a user guide that pulls out some of the highlights and makes it approachable for the more casual user.