Monday 12pm, 16 March 2015

Good design 1

Patterns of Physical Design Remixing in Online Maker Communities

Lora Oehlberg

Assistant Professor - University of Calgary


Makers participate in remixing culture by drawing inspiration from, combining, and adapting designs for physical objects. To examine how makers remix each others’ designs on a community scale, we analyzed metadata from over 175,000 digital designs from Thingiverse, the largest online design community for digital fabrication. Remixed designs on Thingiverse are predominantly generated designs from Customizer– a built- in web app for adjusting parametric designs. However, we find that these designs do not elicit subsequent user activity and the authors who generate them tend not to contribute additional content to Thingiverse. Outside of Customizer, influential sources of remixing include complex assemblies and design primitives, as well as non-physical resources posing as physical designs. Building on our findings, we discuss ways in which online maker communities could become more than just design repositories and better support collaborative remixing. This work will be presented at CHI 2015 in Seoul, Korea.


Lora Oehlberg recently completed a PostDoc with the InSitu research team at INRIA Saclay, France, and will be starting as an Assistant Professor at the University of Calgary in July 2015. Her research interests include technology to support design collaboration, computationally-driven fabrication, and interaction design methods. She has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.