I’ve finally set myself up in Bangalore and have spent the last few days camped out with Priya in the brand new Arduino India office: camped out seems an appropriate way to phrase it, as we don’t yet have chairs and so have set ourselves up on colourful mats on the floor.
Although the initial attraction to Arduino technology was the creativity and innovative design of the people that are using it, the aspect that has held my attention is the sense of community felt by the ‘makers’ involved, which becomes apparent as people feed back into the Arduino knowledge bank. Arduino itself is based on the ethos of open sourcing both its software and its hardware, and I’m interested to explore whether this has an impact on its users; whether it creates a sense of belonging to a greater whole.
David Watts sums this up in an eloquent little poem, written to show gratitude to the many users that allow others to access their ideas:
Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino, talks about his motivations in making open-source hardware: “I like this idea that hardware becomes like a piece of culture that you share and build upon, like it was a song or a poem with creative commons”. Like traditional songs and stories that transfer culture down through the generations, the knowledge that is gathered through the process of creatively using technologies is being developed upon and passed on, so that ideas can be improved upon by others, modified for different ends.
Rather than go against this ethos and produce an ethnographic account of this community based solely on my observations, I am interested instead in embracing it, and allowing my research to be subject-led and highly collaborative. To this end, I welcome anyone to get in touch with me, either regarding avenues of enquiry, or in order to collaborate more closely.