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Building a maker community around an open hardware platform

Morreale, Fabio; Moro, Giulio; Chamberlain, Alan; Benford, Steve; McPherson, Andrew P.


Fabio Morreale

Giulio Moro

Dunford Chair in Computer Science

Andrew P. McPherson


This paper reflects on the dynamics and practices of building a maker community around a new hardware platform. We ex- amine the factors promoting the successful uptake of a maker platform from two perspectives: first, we investigate the tech- nical and user experience considerations that users identify as the most important. Second, we explore the specific activities that help attract a community and encourage sustained partici- pation. We present an inductive approach based on the case study of Bela, an embedded platform for creating interactive audio systems. The technical design and community building processes are detailed, culminating in a successful crowdfund- ing campaign. To further understand the community dynamics, the paper also presents an intensive three-day workshop with eight digital musical instrument designers. From observations and interviews, we reflect on the relationship between the platform and the community and offer suggestions for HCI researchers and practitioners interested in establishing their own maker communities.


Morreale, F., Moro, G., Chamberlain, A., Benford, S., & McPherson, A. P. (2017). Building a maker community around an open hardware platform.

Conference Name ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 17)
End Date May 11, 2017
Acceptance Date Dec 20, 2016
Publication Date May 6, 2017
Deposit Date Apr 13, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 6, 2017
Journal CHI 2017: ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 6-11 May 2017, Denver, Colorado, USA.
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Maker community, DIY, crowdfunding, embedded hardware, digital musical instruments, pluggable communities
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