An Ethnographic and Historical Analysis of Innovation Through Making.
My dissertation project analyzes the impact of media narratives on the skills, materials and tools of innovation through a multi-method, three part study of "making"—a growing method of Do-It-Yourself technology design that engages students, hobbyists and experienced engineers in the building of technological artifacts. The capacity of making to incorporate diverse forms of technical knowledge (e.g. sewing, woodworking, programming) holds significant promise for increasing the participation of women in innovation fields. However, this will be lost if public conceptions of innovation neglect the contributions of craft and handwork.
1—Makers in the Media: Identifying the values and ideals of innovation that are created through media narratives about making, with specific attention to the material practices that are framed as central to innovative work.
2—Enacting Maker Imaginaries: Identifying the influence of media narratives on the practices of makers through two years of ethnographic field study in a university makerspace located in the Pacific Northwest.
3—Remaking: Intervening in media narratives and broadening public conceptions of innovation through the participatory design workshop "Making Core Memory." Through exploring an understudied moment of engineering history, these workshops provide an opportunity to build experiential understandings of technology production work—ultimately challenging narrow conceptions of who participates in innovation and how.