Here is a second example from a previous student whose work focused on the DIY and STEAM makers as an information community illustrating the path from blogging, through the assignments, to a successful paper.
Thanks to SJSU student Dani Musick for providing these assignments!
The maker community is an exceptionally vibrant information community centered around DIY and STEAM. According to Make, makers most often engage in work with electronics, digital fabrication, craft and design, and the Internet of Things. Voight (2014) defined makers as “independent inventors, designers and tinkerers…. A convergence of computer hackers and traditional artisans….” (par. 2). She cited Make Magazine and Maker Faire (self-styled as the greatest show-and-tell on earth) as the primary modes of collaboration for a previously somewhat isolated community. Bajarin (2014) estimated there are about 135 million US adults who are makers, let alone the number of children and adolescents who might also identify with that moniker. The maker movement allows all of these makers to share ideas, teach, learn, and access resources within the maker community.
The maker community is built on sharing—not only information, but also the products that result from information sharing. Durrance defined information communities as being “united by a common interest in building and increasing access to a set of dynamic, linked, and varying information sources” (as cited in Fisher & Bishop, 2015, p. 22). Websites like Etsy, Instructables, Tested, SkillShare, and Inventables are designed to increase access to information sources through forums, sales, patterns and models, how-to guides, videos, and other media. Maker Faire itself is a celebration of what makers made and how they made it, and exhibitors offer workshops to share the “how” of their creations (as an attendee, I have been recruited by many a maker to participate in their craft, be it Mandalorian armor building, LED programming, or kombucha brewing, among others). Public libraries also increasingly include Makerspaces in their programs and services, and some commercial spaces are opening to increase access to maker resources.
Fisher and Bishop (2015) noted that information communities “[blur] the boundaries between information seekers, users, and providers” (p. 22). A member of the maker community might be all three of these at once: they can provide information from their own area of expertise while also seeking information regarding a different topic. Information communities emphasize “collaboration among diverse information providers,” which is visible among makers who want to share their craft and learn others (p. 22). They also noted that, by definition, information communities form around users’ information needs. The maker community exists to share information and resources among makers as well as to non-makers in hopes of making sales (e.g., artisans) or recruiting new makers.
Adam Savage (2018) (of Mythbusters fame, and now a major figurehead of the maker movement) described sharing as one of the maker community’s core tenets:
I view [withholding information] as antithetical to making as a practice, as a discipline, and to being a member of any community. As a member of a community of humans, art is one of the key ways in which we converse about the world and what is going on around us. Human progress is made not simply because of how we make things but also because we share what we make and how we made it.
Makers seek information to learn, not to steal techniques. Where better to learn than from someone whose technique you admire? Fisher & Durrance (2003) noted that information communities emphasize collaboration rather than minimize it (p. 4). There is a sense of shared responsibility and shared resources as the community depends on shared information, anticipating others’ needs, and fostering connections within and beyond the community (p. 4). The maker community upholds this sense of duty to help other makers and the greater community by sharing information and resources.
Bajarin, T. (2014, May 19). Why the maker movement is important to America’s future. TIME. Retrieved from https://time.com/104210/maker-faire-maker-movement/
Fisher, K. E. and Bishop, A. P. (2015). Information communities: Defining the focus of information service. In S. Hirsh (Ed.), Information services today: An introduction (pp. 20-26). Retrieved from https://ebookcentral-proquest-com.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/lib/sjsu/reader.action?docID=2032756&ppg=53
Fisher, K. E. and Durrance, J. C. (2003). Information communities. In K. Christensen & D. Levinson (Eds.), Encyclopedia of community: From the village to the virtual world. (pp. 658-661). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Retrieved from http://libaccess.sjlibrary.org/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952583.n248
Savage, A. [Make:]. (2018, May 22). The importance of sharing [YouTube]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhdbN-bRaSo
Voight, J. (2014, March 17). Which big brands are courting the maker movement, and why? AdWeek. Retrieved from https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/which-big-brands-are-courting-maker-movement-and-why-156315/