If "atoms are the new bits," hackerspaces are the new processors. After Chris Anderson shared his inspiring thoughts about changes involving new economics, the Internet and opensource technologies Monday at Stanford, we think t
hat production processes are quickly evolving. A new paradigm in conception, production and distribution is born.
And even if they won't change the way we produce objects from the ground up, these new places will strongly improve innovation.
What is a hackerspace?
Hackerspaces, or hacklabs, have been spreading all over the world over the last two years. Today there are few hundred, mostly concentrated in the United States and Europe (Germany, Netherlands). First born in academic laboratories, they are now open to everyone and catching the attention of companies' R&D departments.
Hackerspaces are places where people who are willing to imagine and build projects in electronics, art, design, and programming can work together, share tools and learn from each other. “How to make almost everything,” is the catchphrase of Waag Society, MIT's fablab representative in Europe.
In hackerspaces, small projects come to life, useless devices are built, and new ways of working together are experimented with. Opensource cars, Wii drones, coffee machines working with Twitter, LED walls, 3D printers. . . The new, the unbelievable and the hijack are the leitmotif of this new kind of innovation.
The projects are usually made together by sharing production tools and knowledge between members of the space. The prototyping phase, production and distribution processes are available and explained on the Internet in order to give others the possibility of copying or improving devices.
What does it change for organizations?
At L'Atelier, we think that there is something to learn from this movement. It won't substitute the way the design-production chain works but it is giving us the key to help innovation evolve faster. Small groups, high specialization and segmentation of the prototyping phase with a specific attention to expertise and the makers' desire, quick transition from virtual design to real object : these are some of the ways innovation occurs.