Open Source Ecology and the Re-Maker Society
Opportunities for UW Makers, Designers, Artists and Engineers
Welcome to UW’s Open Source Ecology project (OSE@UW). Following Marcin Jakubowski’s successful WICI talk in May 2014, OSE@Waterloo has developed a portal to coordinate internship opportunities, open hardware design competitions and Coop placements associated with the Open Source Ecology project in Missouri.
Echoing the University’s renewed commitment to experiential education, OSE@Waterloo is looking to create collaborative making, designing and fabricating opportunities for students from across the University. More specifically, OSE@Waterloo has emerged from a growing commitment within the Department of Environment and Resource Studies (ERS) to innovative courses designed around project-based, kinaesthetic and experiential learning (see the ERS Experiential Learning Group). At the same time the project draws on the enthusiasm and expertise of a diverse team of faculty members drawn from ERS, Knowledge Integration, Engineering and English (not least the Critical Media Lab).
Research on Open Source Fabrication and the reMaker Society
OSE@Waterloo is also part of a wider research project on the problem of economic growth. Humanity is caught in a growth trap. Ending poverty, enhancing and expanding the culture of liberal democracy, sustaining the amazing pace of scientific discovery and technical innovation – all of these cherished goals depend upon continuing economic growth. But growth – i.e. the escalating throughput of energy and materials flowing through human systems – is necessarily achieved at the expense of natural ecological systems and the consumption of finite resources. And although mainstream economics presumes a never-ending cycle of expansion, there are clearly material and ecological limits to growth: nothing can expand indefinitely (at least not without breaking the laws of physics). Every schoolchild knows that rampant consumerism is devastating planetary ecology. But impending resource constraints are likely also to place an unbearable strain on the social and political institutions of liberal societies, and to create geopolitical disorder on an unimaginable scale. Our room for manoeuvre is thus circumscribed – by the maximum scale of economy compatible with the ecological integrity of the biosphere and the minimum scale required in order to sustain a globally-connected, technologically progressive, science-based, liberal-cosmopolitan society. What seems certain is that this leaves no room for rampant consumer capitalism.
Please join us in creating new opportunities for teaching, learning and researching open source hardware, community-based fabrication and a political economy for the post-consumer society.
Contributing to the work of both the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation (WICI) and the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), the Metcalf Foundation funded project on the reMaker Society explores the possible relevance of community-based fabrication to a post-consumer society. Our idea is that the habit of actually making things may challenge logic of passive consumption whilst engendering a new kind of community-based economy. Although there is a compelling case for low/no growth economics (e.g. Jackson 2009; Victor 2008), this vision has not been demonstrated ‘on the ground’. The convergence of (i) new communication and organizational [open source, P2P] technologies associated with the Internet, with (ii) emerging micro fabrication technologies (e.g. 3d printing) is creating as yet untapped possibilities for small-scale, community-based economy which combines artisanal craftsmanship with both technical innovation and a much more integrated recycling, reuse and repair of material objects. This project tests the capacity of community-based hacking spaces and Maker projects to engage ordinary people, unpick the psycho-cultural attractions of consumerism, change behaviour and transform local economies.
Project Leader: Dr Stephen Quilley, Associate Professor, Environment and Resource Studies, Director of Development, Waterloo Institute of Complexity and Innovation and interim Co-Director, Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience.
Project affiliates: Visit our affiliates page to see a full list of our associated faculty, staff and students.
In our most recent workshop we built 3 power cubes!
What is a power cube?The Power Cube is a modular, universal, self-contained power unit consisting of an engine coupled to a hydraulic pump, providing power from hydraulic fluid at high pressure through quick connect hoses. It is designed to function as a modular and interchangeable power supply for GVCS technologies.