The IFTF Blog
China: One of the World's Great Maker Countries
IFTF Research Fellow Mary Kay Magistad released the latest installment of her Whose Century Is It podcast series on August 11. The episode delves into the rise of the Maker Movement and how it's playing out in one of the world's great Maker countries: China.
IFTF wrote the first white paper forecast on the Maker Movement back in 2008, when it was mostly a US-based affair, and has been closely following the spread of the movement into China and beyond, especially the impact on cities. As futurists, we have been drawn to Shenzhen's formal and informal production systems as a unique testbed for new products, designs, and practices - one that we think will play a growing role in the future of smart devices, clothing, and objects.
Magistad's piece, part of her larger longterm study of Chinese innovation, points out a key tension between the Maker spirit as articulated by Americans like Dale Dougherty, and by the Chinese government, which has embraced the Maker concept with a vengeance for the last 18 months. As Dougherty says: “It’s not about how good you are. It’s about the sense of control and the sense of purpose and of setting your own direction, doing things that are meaningful to you.” And as Magistad notes:
And now, the Chinese government wants to launch a new era in which China is a global player, perhaps a global leader, in innovation — but it wants to do it by allowing innovation and critical thinking in specific silos — tech, biotech, hard sciences — but not in creative fields, or academia, where the same kind of thinking could challenge the Communist Party in ways it finds deeply uncomfortable.
Listen to the podcast Maker Movement meets China now:
For more on IFTF's Maker Movement and Shenzhen innovation research, check out the following links:
- Future of Making
- Maker City Shenzhen: Global Hub for Makers and Manufacturers
- Maker City PlayBook: How the Maker Mindset and Technology are Reinventing Urban Life
- Shenzhen: innovation space of the future
For more information about IFTF programs, initiatives, and research, please contact:
Photo Credit: Mary Kay Magistad