Additive creativity: Maker Faire Rome 2014

The Innovation Week Rome ended with the Maker Faire European Edition, a huge event where makers from all around the world met to showcase and share their innovative ideas and inventions with more than 90,000 people from all ages.

Showcases, exhibitions, workshops and talks in the field of robotics, 3D printing, drones, sensors, and many more, took place during 4 days at Rome’s Auditorium Parco della Musica.

Maker Faire Rome was promoted by Camera di Commercio di Roma and curated by Massimo Banzi and Riccardo Luna.

On this post we will focus on the Opening Conference that gathered an array of noted international speakers to talk about the future of the Third Industrial Revolution and Maker Movement.

Young makers at work

I can’t let you do that, Dave

Science Fiction author and technology activist Cory Doctorow made one of the boldest speeches of the meeting.  Doing a strong call to make an active defense of liberties on the Internet, he depicted a chilling future if we don’t do something now about some issues: particularly, he addressed, privacy and freedom of expression. He talked about the interests of companies to limit liberties on the Internet, being done that for the ruling technocapitalism system it is not convenient that people can freely share their knowledges and discoveries –even they are already achieving to turn illegal the act of publishing certain informations.

Referencing Hal 9000’s quote of the film “2001: A Space Odyssey”, Doctorow mentioned the growing possibility of machines starting to decide what things we can communicate based in parameters predefined by companies.

Furthermore, he also remarked the importance of organizations like Open Rights Group to preserve liberties of individuals on the Internet, and finished saying that “The Internet is the nervous system of XXI century”, hence we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these issues in order not to jeopardize the future of Humanity.

Cory Doctorow
Doctorow advocating for Internet liberties


Scientist Michael McAlpine from Princeton University presented his researches in the development of bionic humans. Some years ago, he developed a flexible material that produces energy when subjected to mechanical pressure. This can be applied to generate power from human motion, for instance portable electronics powered by walking. Nowadays, he is working on the creation of bionic organs through 3D printing, being the advancements so promising up to the point that McAlpine envision a future where being bionic will be something normal.

He also mentioned the developments on interfaces human-machine and the huge advancements which have been done in Smart Prosthetics and Regenerative Biomedicine. In a future where having electronics embedded in our bodies will be seen as a normal thing, McAlpine’s researches may have a lot of commercial applications.

Michael McAlpine
McAlpine presents advancements on 3D printed organs

Slow Make

“Connected objects are the next big thing”, announced Massimo Banzi, co-creator of Arduino. It means an exciting prospect if you think of making your own DIY Smart House but it can also involve huge dangers if left in hands of certain private companies.

We should be careful if we don’t want to be “the product”, he stated. As a way of avoiding to get caught in this trap, he presented the Arduino Manifesto for Connected Devices. This Manifesto whose foundations are Good, Clean and Fair, was inspired by the Slow Food movement, originary from the same Northern Italy area where the platform Arduino was born.

Banzi, now working along with futurist Bruce Sterling on an experimental apartment to be equipped with Open Source appliances and furniture, finished his talk strongly advocating for Open Source which, he said, is the better way for innovation.

 A new creative freedom

In the afternoon, Dale Dougherty, founder of Make magazine and co-founder of O’Reilly Media, made an inspiring speech about what being a maker involves. “Maker is someone that makes and shares”, he said, emphasizing the importance of communities to the development of the movement.

Maker movement is changing the how/where/who/what of manufacturing processes, and this will have important implications. In this context, the rol of education is crucial to ensure that the movement goes on the right path. We are dealing with a “new creative freedom” that we must learn to use, and not squander.

Listening colors

Close to the end of the meeting, the Barcelona-based, English-born artist and cyborg activist Neil Harbisson explained us how he became in the first officially recognized cyborg in the world. To overcome his achromaptosia, a condition that only allowed him to see in grayscale, he helped to develop and implant into his skull an antenna that enables him to “listen” to colors by translating color frequencies into sound frequencies. Being the relationship with his environment particularly aural, he has developed a whole musical system to represent colors with sounds, resulting in fascinating and innovative projects as The Color Concert, a color conducted concert that he presented this year at Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana. Harbisson has also founded the Cyborg Foundation to extend  human’s senses and perceptions by using cybernetics as part of their bodies.

Neil Harbisson
Cyborg artist Neil Harbisson at Maker Faire Rome 2014

These were just few of the myriad of innovative, unruly and visionary propositions during Maker Faire Opening Conference. As a tsunami over Rome, creativity flowed everywhere. Moreover, the Maker Faire sheltered a good bunch of exhibitors and organizations showing their projects on the exhibition tents set up for that purpose. And the next day, it was the Education Day, devoted to the younger audience and student collectives, with a huge attendance success. It was clear for everybody there: Maker’s tide is rising unstoppable, many of those who started the wave were there, as many of those who will extend it. Every passing day, a new resourceful inventor gets on it, eager to share brilliant ideas with the world. We’ll keep selecting them for you from this blog.

For more informations about Innovation Week, you can also read our recaps of the Open Hardware Summit and Meet IoT.

PostDigital Node

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