Makers gonna make! #teamscheire

by Dries De Roeck on November 19, 2018

This post was written as a draft, to eject some thoughts. It is prone to have plenty of language errors, unclear sentences or very ‘dutch’ type of english sentences.

Recently the public broadcaster in Belgium launched a new show, #teamscheire. For those that haven’t been able to make the time to watch an episode, it is about a group of ‘makers’ who solve specific problems or issues for everyday people.
Watching the show has made me think, a lot, about maker culture and its relation to engineering and design. About our society driven by the glorification of the capitalistic belief. About personalisation and the influence of data driven systems. About emotions. About skills in local communities.

In this brief post I want to touch on a couple of these topics, which is mostly part of my ever ongoing journey and interest in being involved in maker culture in general.
Before diving it, let’s be clear about one thing, I love this show. This is not written as a critique on the TV show itself, but more about some elements this show triggered in my brain. Some of the discussions I had with people about the show triggered quite a lot, I will do my very best to write this as constructive as possible. Don’t complain, suggest what’s better. Or as the romans would have said Noli Queri, Suade Melius.

Issue one: market value

When I watch #teamscheire, I do so primarily becuase I love to create things. Sometimes these things have no use at all, but the act of creating is something that I like to do. I keep coming back to an old Yoko Ono quote, all the time:
“I admire most creative people and most creative efforts because I like the idea that they’re doing something. Even if it’s crap, I like the idea that they’re doing something.”
Over the past weeks, I had several chats with people who talk about the work and projects part of #teamscheire as ‘hobbyist creations’ (‘knutselaars’ in Dutch). What vigourously agites me when people use that wording is the implicit assumption that ‘maker’ projects are inferior to ‘industrially produced’ projects. A typical element that pops up in dicussions which focus around this is the hunt for the greater goal. ‘WHY’ would you even spend time on making this, ‘WHAT’ do you get out of it and ‘HOW’ big is the market for this? Typically my point of view in this kind of discussions is that I don’t care about how much revenue such a project might bring – I think it is important to show a larger slice of society that we _are_ able to solve problems ourselves without the need for venture capital, stock markets or dollar signs. Just enthousiastic people willing to help out for the greater good.

Issue two: it has been done

Another quite common type of discussion is the ‘but it has been done’ type of discussion. Probably all projects shown on the #teamscheire show have been done, explored or tried out by others somewhere. A friend of mine, Lieven De Couvreur, has been running design classes since 2009 about creating and documenting personalised ‘solutions’ to very specific problems. This is the perfect example to show how important deep personalisation is, and that perhaps something can look like it has been done – whereas we might miss a small change which makes it a totally different product for a particular person.
So when someone says it has been done, I think that should be regarded as a compliment and it should trigger collaboration, not triggering to notoriously build walled gardens to “protect” intellectual property. That being said, I find it a pity #teamscheire seems exclusively linked to the University of Antwerp and imec when it comes to the involvement of educational and academic institutions.

Issue three: communities

Core to a lot of thoughts this tv show has evoked is showing what local communities can mean for each other. We ‘the people’ can solve so many of our own problems, which we somehow expect organisations or companies to solve through commercial services or products. And if you look around, you often don’t have to look too far. A farmer living nearby who turns out to be a master in welding or a neighbour across the street who is a hero in repairing clothes, a friend who can write software. For sure, the solutions made or ‘crafted’ by our local networks will never work instantly ‘out of the box’. As the #teamscheire show shows very well, iteration and testing are critical to making things. Additionally, this assumes there is a local community or network, which is in many cases does not extend beyond our front doors.

What I actually want to say:

  • I want to see more projects led by enthousiasm instead of money
  • I don’t think every solution should be generalised in order for it to be marketed or marketable
  • I do think creating solutions that can be personalised or adjusted are interesting
  • I believe we should all keep attempting to create resilient local communities, although I have no clue how to actually do that
  • It feels good to watch #teamscheire and be part of, what sometimes feels like, a hippie anno 2018 movement


Hello Dries

I follow you completely.
I love the concept of the show.

In suggestions what could be better here are my points.
– One thing I see and feel watching the show is a quote which is banging constantly in my head “ if you only have a hamer in your toolbox all your problems look like nails.” My suggestion here is on more colaboration between diffrent kind of makers which can contribute in my oppinion to a more complete solution.

– Another view I have on market value. The value of the solutions given by the makers here doesn’t lie in sales or revenue it collects. It isn’t in the live quality improvement of the person who which it was designed for. The fact that they can dance, game or watch the sea makes a big difference. Not only for the person itself but for their entire network.
So if we just keep living in this capatalistic enviorement. A company should ask what is it worth for the entire network, and what are they willing to give in return? I emphasise return and not pay!

I believe #teamscheire also wanted to inspire people and start something more then just their show. So let us improve our networks not only by making stuff but also organising stuff but first of all it all starts by listening to people’s needs ! All is love.

by Gert Dierckx on November 20, 2018 at 11:47 am. #

Super nice to read this Gert, the good stuff always emerges from unexpected corners!
I like your final point, that we should not only make stuff but also organise and facilitate the discussion or communication around it. The message should indeed be to collaborate and not hide and attempt to do stuff by yourself. Therefore I believe that fostering collaboration between makers during the tv show could even be more explicit.
Additionally, your comment made me think about a characteristic of a maker which is using the online medium as a communication outlet. It seems to be straightforward to talk with other makers online and share work, but this does not necessarily bring us closer to our local communities.

by Dries De Roeck on November 20, 2018 at 1:48 pm. #

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