I sat down with Marc on the last day of K_space to chat about his work and ended up having a long conversation about the socio-political meaning of hacking, the direction in which the maker movement is headed, hacking as a teaching method and gender dynamics within the technical field. The interview, transcribed below, is a great explainer on what making and hacking looks like outside of the vacuum of technical fields and instead embedded within society, politics and history.
Let’s start with your take on the hype behind the maker movement, what do you think about the notion that it’s instigating a third industrial revolution?
I was in Manchester in May/June where I had a meeting with a Chinese maker movement. Manchester was the pioneering place for the first industrial revolution but look at how Manchester has suffered from it; the first European slums were in Manchester, the poverty and misery in Manchester during the first industrial revolution even inspired people like Engels and Marx to study its aftermath. So it was ironic that I was in Manchester having a conversation about 3D printing in the midst of the maker culture hype that it is ushering in a third industrial revolution.
I come from a technophilic background but the more I pay attention to technology in social, cultural and educational contexts, the more my attention shifts towards how technology impacts society. The real challenges today have primarily come through technology–climate change and so on–which we now try to fix with technology. This is not the right approach because these problems come from the unstudied hype and anticipation regarding an industrial revolution. By focusing so much on technical solutions we neglect the political pressure and social study needed to solve problems. The search for technical solutions has reached exaggerated heights especially with space exploration, which is a problem by itself as the message that we’re giving in the way we do space exploration is that that we messed things up in this planet so now it’s time to find an alternate place to live. Read more