Design Your World Expo 2012

By Amy Pickup    29 Mar 2012

The paper LilyPad in the Wild: How Hardware’s Long Tail is Supporting New Engineering and Design Communities written by Leah Buechley and Benjamin Mako Hill looks at the “distribution, adoption, and evolution of” the LilyPad by analyzing how it was adopted by way of statistics from SparkFun Electronics and project documentation. With a focus on the ability of new media to “decentralize” the production and consumption of digital media, technologies like the LilyPad encourage both the DIY ethic and open-source communities that align directly with this decentralization. Buechley and Hill “argue that the LilyPad enables a new and unique engineering community” that is “engaging large numbers of women,” in a “design landscape that is strikingly different from that of traditional electronics.”

They found that more women tend to buy the LilyPad compared to the traditional Arduino. They also found that women tend to provide substantially more public documentation of their projects online. The LilyPad seems to provide a learning bridge from textiles to software development with etextiles. Rather than Unlocking the Clubhouse (Margolis & Fisher) built by men in computer science, LilyPad is finding success sparking new cultures, in an inverse approach they call Building New Clubhouses.

Little to no research exists describing this kind of naturally formed and “autonomous computing community” dominated by females. This new community of developers is building strikingly different projects compared to traditional hobbyist endeavours. Many are wearable and have a “design or artistic focus.” They often integrate with other crafty skills like embroidery. Through this effort, they hope to provide the foundation for “a new female-dominated electrical engineering/computer science community” to emerge.

Extensions to Explore TeeBoard LilyPadaone XBee