MIT-Fablab Norway was one of the first Fab Labs ever established, in northern Norway in 2002. Despite this auspicious beginning to a network that is rapidly growing, surprisingly little has been written about the genesis of the network or the Fab Lab itself. We therefore aim to contribute to this knowledge gap with a narrative account of our independent ethnographic research visits to the Lab. We combine our researcher perspectives, which are informed by, on the one hand, Aesthetics and a phenomenological understanding and, on the other, Science and Technology Studies, with Design Research bridging both. Our account aims to richly describe the Lab’s unique profile in the MIT Fab Lab network as a socially shaped entity and product of a particular time and place. Most salient in this narrative is the role of its charismatic founder, whose stories and metaphors become vehicles by which we come to understand how a Fab Lab forms its own identity, balancing the relationships with local stakeholders against those with the Fab Lab network; how it promotes certain principles and values of peer production; and how it represents itself to both maker insiders and outsiders. While situated and particular to this Lab, our interpretations may have implications for the trajectories of other Fab Labs and makerspaces, as well as our understanding of peer production as a new paradigm.
- Fab Lab, ethnography, MIT-Fablab Norway, peer production