12 May 2006

Craft is fab

Neil Gershenfeld is the Director of MIT's Centre for Bits and Atoms, and author of Fab: the coming revolution on your desktop - from personal computers to personal fabrication which is a vital read for anyone interested in the future of craft. Recommended to me by John Marshall, the book not only helped me to make sense of his doctoral research (finally) but also raised some vitally important issues about craft practice, and the potential of digitally connected craft practice to quite literally reshape social and economic systems.

Fab Labs basically are places for making things. Typically they pull together a laser cutter, sign cutter, a milling machine and the kit for programming microprocessors. Together with the software and control systems, fab labs cost less than $25K. In the book Gershenfeld demonstrates their considerable potential as liberatory tools for students, for communities in India and Africa, for marginalised communities in the US. Together with pragmatic detail on how the kit and the labs work is a highly vibrant text on the primacy of craft and making for creative, intellectual and community development.