Though largely forgotten now, Technology Networks were community-based prototyping workshops supported by the Greater London Council from 1983 until 1986. This article in the Journal of Peer Production provides a history of the workshops emerging out of a movement for socially useful production. Recalling the radical roots and conflicted experiences of the workshops brings to the fore issues still relevant in citizen laboratories for prototyping today, such as FabLabs, Hackerspaces and other kinds of makerspace: tensions between prototyping activities for business development as distinct from more critical technological agit prop for political mobilisation; working at equitable relations between codified, formal expertise versus tacit, experiential skills; and the influences of broader political and economic changes and wider movements for alternatives. After careful historical contextualisation, lessons are drawn for workshops today, but which will inevitably play out differently, hopefully after learning from the past.
The article is part of a Special Issue examining different experiences in community workshops today.