Support and awareness for P2P-friendly Digital DIY in Europe?

DiDIY (Digital DIY) is an European H2020 research project in which I work these days. Its looks at (emphasis mine) the “emergence of new scenarios in the roles and relations among individuals, organizations, and society, in which the distinction between users and producers of physical artefacts is blurred, and new opportunities and threats emerge accordingly”.  We have recently published a preliminary report on current support and awareness of Digital DIY in Europe. The whole report is freely available under a CC license from the DiDIY website (like all the other DiDIY deliverables). Therefore, here I am only going to quote some parts that show its potential relevance from a P2P perspective, hoping to gather as much feedback and input as possible for our future research activities.

The findings of the preliminary report, which all require further research to be validated, include the facts that Digital DIY, as defined and studied by the project:

  1. has much more to do with social innovation than with technology (cfr also point 4 below)
  2. in general impacts and nature of Digital DIY (again: as defined by the project) are much less acknowledged than expected, even among its own practitioners and stakeholders
  3. together with language barriers, which prevent direct discovery from us of many relevant, local initiatives across Europe with normal online searches, the fact above makes collecting information about Digital DIY much harder than it is for related but “single focus” topics like, e.g., Open Hardware, makers or Open Data
  4. the same relative lack of awareness seems, so far, also present in EU-level “digital programs”

Here are some edited excerpts of the conclusions of the report:

  • The DiDIY Project works for a human-centric development in Europe
  • As in the case of other DSI (Digital Social Innovation), promotion of Digital DIY requires a combination of top-down actions and bottom-up approaches. However, there may be important differences between Digital DIY and other forms of DSI, that should be considered when promoting it
  • If Digital DIY is to become a mass phenomenon, it will unavoidably be (much) more regulated than it is today… This may not be, in and by itself, a serious threat to Digital DIY, as long as two conditions are satisfied. One is that new regulations support it at the small, local level, but leaving it the maximum possible freedom
  • The Digital Agenda and otherEU “digital programs” focus very much on what it calls the “Digital  Economy” and “Digital Single Market” [also excluding] non-market activities.This creates another, non-negligible, “support and awareness problem”. There is no doubt that many Digital DIY activities can be excellent ways to start and run profitable businesses, create new jobs and contribute to economic growth. The DiDIY Project will also study those activities. At the same time, and almost by definition, both as a mindset and from a practical point of view, much Digital DIY is not about creating new jobs, or profit in general. Sometimes, the contrary is true.
  • [Digital DIY “features” like] sharing knowledge, information, hardware designs, software under free licenses, i.e., as Open Source, constitute different forms of so called “digital commons”. The EC’s Digital Agenda, as many national agendas, Smart Cities programmes and similar, focuses mainly on the “market”, thereby forgetting the importance of this digital commons for developing prosperous businesses

I hope that these excerpts, and point 3 of the list above, are sufficient to explain and motivate this request for help:

do you know of any project, public administrators, activists, professionals, consumer associations, NGOs… anywhere in Europe, that are already doing, or studying, Digital DIY? ESPECIALLY non-geeks, i.e. not makers, fablabs and similar? Do you know of any (again: “non-geek”) conference or other event to which we may contribute, or participate, to present, or study, Digital DIY? If so, please tell us or, even better: help us to contact them directly (our email is [email protected]). Thank you in advance!

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