How Fablabs Manage the Knowledge They Create

How Fablabs Manage the Knowledge They Create

Sérgio Maravilhas, Joberto Martins
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6225-2.ch015
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A collaborative space for stimulating creativity is a place of learning through the exchange and sharing of knowledge and experience among its members. It allows the leveraging of innovation through the use of technological resources available in the space, stimulating the creativity of its participants, enabling the development of products and solutions based on personal projects—do it yourself (DIY)—from ideation, or the construction supported on knowledge developed by other elements together, collaboratively, enhancing the final result—do it with others (DIWO). A research project is being held to create a new lab, or transform and adapt one of the existing lab's, in a Fab Lab or a Maker Space to let students, teachers, and staff give wings to their imagination and develop innovative solutions to solve real problems while they interact and exchange tacit knowledge, making it explicit after concluding their projects when they share their research reports.
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Information and knowledge, along with natural and economic resources, proved to be an unprecedented social and strategic expedient (Beuren, 1998; Choo, 1996; 2003; McGee & Prusak, 1995).

The importance of knowledge for organizations is now universally accepted, being, if not the most important, at least one of the resources whose management influences the success of organizations (Davenport, & Prusak, 1998).

Information management relates to the organizational ability to make the right information available for use in decision making (Davenport, 1997), transforming the informational chaos into useful and practical knowledge, leading to benefits for the organizations (Maravilhas, 2014b).

Maker Spaces, Hacker Spaces, Tech Shops and Fab Labs are collaborative spaces for stimulating innovation, through the exchange and sharing of information, knowledge, and experience among its members (Blikstein, 2014; Troxler, 2014).

They leverage innovation through the use of technological resources available in the space, stimulating the creativity of its participants and enabling the development of products and solutions based on personal projects from ideation, or the construction supported on knowledge developed by other Makers, collaboratively, enhancing the final result (Gershenfeld, 2005; 2012).

With the motto “Learn, Make, Share” (, these spaces aim to empower its members for the realization of sustainable solutions, local and community-based, using open source tools and equipment’s whenever possible (open software, open hardware, open design, open learning), promoting Open Innovation (Chesbrough, 2003) to allow all the possibility of creating low cost products, with the ability to very quickly show the viability of these ideas through the acceptance by the community, leveraging improvements that will make these solutions evolve collaboratively (Anderson, 2010; 2012; Gershenfeld, 2005; 2012).

In these collaborative spaces the participation of all community members is nurtured, promoting equality of race and gender, benefiting from cross-knowledge, shared by every culture and subculture, which will enrich the final result.

Teachers, researchers and students, young and more experienced, men and women of all races and religions, small business owners, inventors and entrepreneurs, members of the local community, all in a horizontal relationship, without titles or awards, just competence and mutual respect, working and learning from each other in a common space.

The purpose is to enhance the entry of women in more technical fields and Engineering, but also to attract students and professionals of Arts and Humanities, Design and Architecture, allowing them to materialize their ideas based on available and affordable technology, supporting creative inventions and aesthetic processes that will enrich the research and development results (R&D) (Blikstein, 2014; Troxler, 2014). Youngsters and adults that abandoned formal education can find here the resources to start their own job and company.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fab Lab: A laboratory of digital fabrication, serving as a prototyping platform of physical objects, with broad educational, social and economic advantages. These spaces aim to empower its members for the realization of sustainable solutions, using open source tools and equipment’s, to allow all the possibility of creating low cost products which meet the need for one, one hundred, or a thousand people.

Innovation: The application of new knowledge, resulting in new products, processes or services or significant improvements in some of its attributes. A new solution brought to the market to solve a problem in a new or better way than the existent solutions.

Knowledge: Is a fluid composed of experiences, values, context information and apprehension about their own field of action that provides a cognitive apparatus for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates from data and information and allows acting upon it.

Creativity: Reasoning that produces imaginative new ideas and new ways of looking at reality. Creativity is an individual process, arises from the idea that popped into someone’s head. Relates facts or ideas without previous relationship and is discontinuous and divergent. No creative process exists if there is no intention or purpose. The essence of the creative process is to seek new combinations.

Explicit Knowledge: Knowledge of the facts obtained from information, almost always through formal education. Expressed through metaphors, analogies, concepts, hypothesis or models. The key for the creation of new knowledge. Codified, communicable through formal and systematic language. Can be stored in manuals, documentation, patents, blueprints, reports and other accessible sources. Explicit and tacit knowledge complement each other.

Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge that can only be learned through practice and experience. Know-how. Knowledge that is acquired but difficult to explain to others. Subjective insights, intuitions and hunches of individuals. Not easily communicated or shared. To gain access to such knowledge one may have to be practicing in related areas of knowledge. What is held in someone’s head and includes facts, stories, biases, and insights. Tacit and explicit knowledge complement each other.

Information: A set of data arranged in a certain order and form, useful to people to whom it is addressed. Reduces uncertainty and supports decision-making. Information is considered to support human knowledge and communication in the technical, economic and social domains. Results from the structuring of data in a given context and particular purpose.

Invention: The creation or discovery of a new idea, including the concept, design, model creation or improvement of a piece, product or system. Even though an invention may allow a patent application, in most cases it will not give rise to an innovation.

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