[-empyre-] creating environmental conditions / creating teleological perspectives

Gabriel Menotti gabriel.menotti at gmail.com
Sat Apr 3 08:26:46 EST 2010

Dear empyreans:

Sorry for the disappearance! (Things have been hectic around here with
an upgrade coming on). I hope there is still time for a couple
questions in this end of Holy Week. =)

> what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and
>to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine
>with the novel capability of being able to self-copy [..]
> That way it's accessible to small communities in the
>developing world as well as individuals in the developed
>world. (RepRap website)

I am normally suspicious of ecologic metaphors, but the analogy about
the symbiosis between insects and plants used by Bowyer in the video,
suggesting that human agents ‘pollinate’ across reprap machines that
reproduce themselves, suits well the change in the topology of
manufacture under ‘desktop factoring’ conditions. The metaphor
insinuates on the persistence of environmental (physical) restrictions
for the widespread of the 3d-printing flora – the local availability
of parts and prime matter, for example. So, sometimes it is also
necessary to prepare the soil, and we might wonder who will take up
this role. Thinking about the aims of the project, I get very curious
about what kind of mutations the basic RepRap would have to go (if
any) to be adapted for the developing world. Adrian, do you know of
any RepRap build in one of those areas? If so, did it suffer any
adaptation to local conditions? Do these adaptations generated
feedback that informed or will inform future developments of the

>Peer to peer, decentralised ways of working together, where it is not
>the rule to always feed your output back into a central repository,
>where you can fork. (Marloes de Valk)

Forking seems to be a most sensate horizon to limit a more fluid
topology of manufacture, as it means the complete detachment from a
series of iterations, equating a whole chain of development to a kind
of prototype of a new series – though not a failed prototype, just an
inappropriate one. It is as if we were able to set not only the pace
of production, but also of history. Maybe it is precisely this
possibility of abandoning old rhythms and inaugurating new ones that
enables people to be free from the localized roles (such as
‘prosumer’). However, this makes me wonder if forking assures the
emergence of new methods, or if it only represents a reorganization of
political roles and the ownership/ responsibilities over a shared
structure – or, in any case, what is preponderant in the definition of
new design cycles and their long-term perspectives.


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