Follow-up from our Sheffield meetup

Photo by Tamar Millen
Photo by Tamar Millen

On Wednesday 20 April, we gathered in the bar of the Roco in Sheffield to talk about what a Maker Assembly in Sheffield could look like. Here are my notes from the event. If you’d like to make suggestions for the event, comments are open on this post, so please add your thoughts below.

I said I’d follow up with some theme ideas that seemed to come out of the sessions. It’s impossible to capture or synthesise everyone’s ideas, but hopefully this will include something of interest to most of you.


Current planned date, still TBC, is Wednesday 31st August. Please pencil it in.


Do you have something to share about the topic below. If so, let us know


1. Scaling up, sustainability, economic impact

Questions about a ‘maker city’. Does it maker sense for Sheffield to brand itself based on its past?
Moving from being a small-scale maker to a larger scale manufacturer, running a maker business.
Local, national, international impact. Is bigger better?

2. Amateurism

(Maybe the opposite agenda to the above)
Should we resist the path of the ‘hardware startup’, the urge to turn everything into economic activity, jobs, etc.
The importance of free experimentation vs prescribed work
Innovation is not equivalent to ‘new products’ but ‘new thinking’
How can we learn from the failings of previous tech movements (especially the web, and Silicon Valley utopianism)

3. Diversity

In people, their experience, what they make.
In gender, ethnicity, sexuality, physical or social needs
Self-identifying as a maker, or not

4. Alternative his/herstories

C-base mythology (and other self-authored maker myths?)
The O’Reilly brand of Maker (TM)

5. Performance

Music (who was the accordian player mentioned?)
A making performance

6. Some other topics which we mentioned, but only briefly

Hi-tech/lowtech/trailing edge tech
Open Source
Adaptive design/prosthetics/hacking the body
Education, and engagement (new makers). I feel this is more the territory of STEM groups and/or Maker Faire.

Other agendas

Some things came up which we might be able to address through activities, stalls or other features at the event:

1. Connecting up

Attending and talking to others is a good start, but maybe we could have a ‘would like to meet’ wall at the event, or a ‘I can give/I can get’ noticeboard, or some other way of surfacing connections. Lightning talks (3 mins to say what you do and don’t do) – but we would need to be careful this doesn’t become a ‘me and my cool project showcase).
If you’re interested in helping facilitate this, please get in touch.

2. Diversity of attendees

A lot of people don’t use twitter, or don’t identify as makers, or just don’t feel like this event could be for them. We need help communicating about the event to more diverse communities, and figuring out how to reach them. We may need help designing the event format so people with different needs can enjoy it. If you can help with this, please get in touch.
Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their ideas.

Belfast, March 2016

Our friends at Farset Labs in Belfast organised a Maker Assembly there on 16th March 2016. More event details at their site:

Maker Assembly Belfast
Maker Assembly Belfast

Session 1: Making & Peace Building

Kicking off Maker Assembly NI is a session about the politics and nuances of community-facing digital fabrication projects. It will look at how maker cultures are emerging at the grassroots and how local organisations are contributing to the peace-building project currently underway in Northern Ireland. It hopes to reveal how the idea of ‘critical making’ can be adjusted to suit the specificities of different contexts.


  • Adam Wallace & Eamon Durey, Fab Labs NI
  • John Peto, Nerve Centre

Session 2: Speculative Making: New Contexts and Futures

As the idea of digital making beds down—and practices become more visible and accessible—what new trajectories are emerging and how are speculative futures being framed? This session hopes to reveal the supports we might need to maintain a critical forecast of making and maker culture.


  • Nora O’Murchu, University of Limerick
  • Kat Braybrooke, University of Sussex

Session 3: Governance, Sustainability & Maker Networks

How are maker networks nurtured and sustained? And how ‘critical’ are the governance strategies of the physical spaces and networked platforms that mediate maker networks?

This session hopes to somewhat unravel the entanglements of people, places, and things, to better understand how maker culture is being facilitated.


  • Javier Burón, Fab Lab Limerick & University of Limerick
  • Hannah Stewart, Royal College of Art, Future Makerspaces Project

Session 4: Critics of the world, create!

Final session was a making exercise, inspired by the Sarah Kember and Joanna Zylinska’s (2012) Creative Media Manifesto and Garnet Hertz’s Critical Making zine series.


Our thanks to Andre Bolster, Pip Shea and all at Farset Labs for putting on a great event. If you’re interested in holding a Maker Assembly in your makerspace, library or other institution, please get in touch.

Book table at Maker Assembly
Book table at Maker Assembly Belfast