Digital Ways of Making, commons-based making and digital fabrication; A practice based study of design making for the coming age of networked digital artefacts

Wood, James. 2016. Digital Ways of Making, commons-based making and digital fabrication; A practice based study of design making for the coming age of networked digital artefacts. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This thesis proposes digital making as a novel practice for the design and fabrication of technological, post-digital, computational artefacts grounded in an exploratory design making practice. It builds on recent emergent practices in design and technology research and the developing maker scene.

The contextual framework for the research was the paradigm of ubiquitous computing, set against the growth of the DIY maker ethos, and the potential for commons-based applications that enable communities of practice. These terms are introduced in a critical literature review arranged in three themes; Ubiquity, Commons and Hacking. A methodological approach centred on prototyping and material experimentation was developed through three practical studies; using design methods to describe interactions in ubiquitous computing, using digital fabrication to demonstrate peer-to-peer making, and using commons-based applications to create an online community of practice for objects and makers to co-exist.

The critical practice of the research that was informed by the following principles; sharing tools and toolkits freely, open-sourcing the design and making practices in this area, and by forming interconnected communities of practice by the use of web-based applications and networks. Thus the fieldwork of the research contains substantive critical practice data gathered from design-making and technical development of software and hardware, grounded in physical computing and digital fabrication processes.

The major practical outcomes are designs and prototypes for original archetypes of peer-to-peer objects; networked digital artefacts that have shared knowledge built into their construction, and that enable peer-to-peer transfer technically by including Near Field Communication (NFC) a wireless technology. The research encourages peer-production by sharing of resources, materials and designs as in open source software and open source hardware. This suggests a move towards a commons-based era of design and open source products that challenge the methods of production and economies of ownership.

The thesis concludes with a critical reflection on the practice contained, with reference to the themes stated, in proposing everyday ubiquitous computing objects that embody a digital DIY way of making, and exemplify a shared community perspective. Thus the contribution to knowledge of the thesis is a model for the engagement and development of ‘everyday’ creativity with open and accessible digital technologies.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Additional Information:

Printed thesis available for reference in Goldsmiths Library.


Digital making, fabrication, makers, design

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 May 2016

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2016 17:49

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:12


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)