Between Open-Source and Commerce: Micropolitics of Authorship and Originality in a Knitting Community
Critical Issues in Science, Technology and Society Studies, Graz, Austria, 9-10 May 2016ABSTRACT
with Harun Kaygan
with Harun Kaygan
DIY communities are celebrated for they democratize design through empowering users and help display creativity and express personal identity; and they are often presented as a counterpoint to mainstream patterns of production and consumption.1 However, the pro-user and anti-commercial aspect of DIY tends to be overplayed. Knitting, a DIY activity which has at its core the free circulation and building upon of existing knitting patterns, is an example in which we can witness everyday social interactions between DIYers that may help qualify DIY’s open and counter-commercial image. To understand this better, we have conducted a three-month ethnographic study at a knitting community in Ankara. The community gathers in a space that is reserved for this purpose in a shop, governed by the shop owners and two knitting tutors, where women knitters come together to knit, to practice, and to exchange ideas and critiques. In this special setting, the micropolitics that surround the authorship and originality of knitted artefacts become particularly visible. Conflicts arise between and among tutors and knitters over the circulation of knitting patterns, as participants claim ownership and authorship on the patterns, as well as their own interpretations of and improvements over the patterns, against those who try to decode and reproduce those. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate how an uncritical view of DIY as thoroughly democratic and transparent conceals the practices of value attribution around the patterns and know-how at the level of actual practice, and highlight the need to constantly watch out for gravitations from open-source sharing towards commercial ownership, from the collective towards thehierarchical, so that we can underline practices that strengthen the activist, countercultural potential of DIY.
Open-Source, DIY, Knitting, Authorship, Originality
- Atkinson, P. (2006). Do It Yourself: Democracy and Design. Journal of Design History, 19(1), 1-10; Edwards, C. (2006). ‘Home is Where the Art is’: Women, Handicrafts and Home Improvements 1750–1900. Journal of Design History, 19(1), 11-21.
Illustration: Burak Taşdizen
Session 25: From Countercultural to Commercial — Social Change and Sustainability in Making and Design
Chair: Yana BOEVA, Science and Technology Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada