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Maker Culture: China’s Emerging Economy of D.I.Y. and Open Technology Production

November 16, 2011
12:00PM - 01:30PM

Annenberg School for Communication, Room 300
3620 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

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Categories: Seminar

Abstract: “Maker culture” has become a dominant label for creative communities that embrace a Do-It-Yourself (D.I.Y.) approach to independent technological development. The movement leverages traditions of craftsmanship with open source culture to promote experimentation through tinkering, the bricolage of old and new and a questioning of the current status quo in global technology production.

In this talk, Lindtner traces through ethnographic detail how these values of tinkering, open source and hands-on technology production are taken up and mobilized in a hacker and co-working space in Shanghai, China.  She explores how the theme of maker and D.I.Y. technology production is often seen as a translocal phenomenon and rendered as a progressive and “cool” force in Chinese modernization. Lindtner’s research focuses on the complex and entangled paths of material and semiotic production around maker culture that emerge at the frictions of modernization discourse, foreign investments and transnational migration. She illustrates how the hacker and co-working space in Shanghai employs the framework of D.I.Y. making and sharing of technology to position itself as a participant in Chinese Internet counterculture and as strategically aligned with free culture and open innovation projects in the U.S. She interrogates what models of global citizenship are embedded in the discourses and practices of maker culture and the forms of governmentality that are inscribed in constructions of a technologically savvy, self-creating and transnational citizen.

About the Speaker: Silvia Lindtner is a PhD Candidate in the department of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation research focuses on cultural processes of technology production within the context of urban China. Over the last five years, Lindtner has conducted ethnographic research with Chinese youth, IT professionals and a collective of electronic hackers, freelance designers, new media artists and bloggers, exploring how these various social groups design and use digital technologies to position themselves in the changing urban, social and political environment of China’s cities today. Her work investigates the role digital media play for imaginations of Chinese modernity and translocal ideas of open innovation, free culture, creativity and D.I.Y. technology production. Currently, in part supported by a Chinese government scholarship, Lindtner is completing her thesis on “Multi-Sited Design: Translocal D.I.Y., Hacker and Internet Counter Culture in Urban China.”

Please RSVP to Laura Schwartz-Henderson