The Journal of Peer Production - New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change New perspectives on the implications of peer production for social change

Review A

Reviewer: Anonymous

This is a well-researched article that pulls together the historical and contemporary threads of collections SMSs very well. Your theoretical framework and methodological approaches create a solid foundation for your findings. Your arguments for situating collections SMSs as ‘fourth wave’ are good, and offer a useful chronology for the emergence of such spaces.

Your opening anecdote moves too quickly from uncomfortable interloper to engaged maker. I recommend including an institutional intermediary to help this transition. Alternatively, you could acknowledge the existing barriers to entry of collections SMSs as part of the allegory. Otherwise it sets up a false scene of openness and inclusion.

A more detailed investigation of the current corporate enclosure of these spaces would have deepened your analysis of the ‘power geometries’ of collections SMSs. Although the staff of these spaces try to “ensure that the users have the most power,” descriptions of the less visible power structures shaping their experiences would have given the analysis more depth.

Literature investigating remix culture dynamics at other collections institutions might be interesting to pursue. Also, don’t forget to update the Fab Lab count in your article.

For future research, you might want to look at two Australian collections SMSs attached to the City of Melbourne library (Library at the Dock) and the State Library of Queensland (The Edge).

Review B

Reviewer: Anonymous

Research into the crossover of art institutions and the so-called digital industries is timely. The makerspace is an apt environment from which to address the maneuvering of the museum into facilitating a meeting point between corporate, pedagogical, and governmental bodies, and the public. However, as is, the paper reads unfocused, if not forced. Why is “empirical” evidence relevant to this topic? Are you engaging ethnographic research? Just say so and tell us why this is significant to understand the matter at hand.

The ethnographic data similarly reads superficial, a problem that is not uncommon among Information Science contributions of this kind. My impression as I read the essay is that the interviews were manly conducted with the staff running the makerspace. Again, why this focus? And what does this contribute to our understanding of makerspaces and their operating in institutions? What is the main argument you want to make? As is the paper reads as a mash of hacker histories and a “oh, look, the museum is a space where some sort of ‘maker’ culture is happening.”

The paper is at its most interesting when you address the history of the Tate itself. Perhaps build your argument from there and then think about how the makerspace fits/unfits the museum’s contemporary mandates and how they converse with hacker culture. This should provide you a concise focus. I would recommend that you include at least one example of the going-ons of the space (you mention an artist doing workshops there, which might be interesting).

In other words, it strikes me that you have enough material to make this into a compelling contribution, providing you reshape it and give it a focus.

Here are a few pointers/reflections intended to help you reshaping:

You are correct in pointing out that DIY culture on which makerspaces, etc. builds on goes back to the 1960s and 1970s hacker/tech communities. However, there were artists working in the same vein already at the time as for instance Charlie Gere documents, including Roy Ascott in Britain and E.A.T. and others in the United States working in collaboration with technologists, engineers, and the alternative media community (community-based TV, video, etc.). These were parallel phenomena and what is more they intersect in many cases. If you are going to include such an extensive reference to this tradition (hacking), you need to include these artists and give us an understanding about these histories.

Editors’ review

Many thanks for submitting your paper to the ‘institutions’ special issue of Journal of Peer Production. We have received comments and recommendations about your paper from two peer reviewers. One recommends minor- and the other major-corrections. Here I set out the changes recommended and hope that you are able to respond to them, and that we can count on your paper in the issue.

  •  More on power geometries – especially the corporate enclosure and how this is present in your evidence (and how you recognised it in your research, including as something countered), but also other power relations, such as gender. Or, alternatively, focus in on one aspect and give it more depth. The method section does not really say much about the Massey’s methodology of power relations – what they are, how to trace them, and how to analyse them (bringing in new material in the Conclusions is too late). 
  • Clearer explanation of your methods and who provided information and how (both reviewers touch on this, with reviewer 2 concerned that if it is managers only, then the implications for what you can say must become clear) 
  • Reviewer 2 suggests focusing in on the Tate or museums more exclusively, and brining in additional material and reflection – it could be a good strategy, and their desire to see broader background on hacking and museums could still work because the Tate seems to have had a presence in these too. At the moment, the different sections and connections roam very wide, which gets confusing and loses focus. 
  • Relate the above to notions of institution and institutionalisation. 

 I also felt, like Reviewer 1, that the opening jars and can be improved. Currently, it is a great journalistic hook, although one can dispute just how recognisable or typical is the experience described, and so seems superficial compared to the analysis you later present. The Tate-related studies and references to innovations in museology would be better placed in a background section rather than introduction, and perhaps where reviewer 2 elaborations on history could be handled. And all will need to connect better with the background to makerspaces. The museology section roams much further than SMS.

But the technology-art relationship, and marginal attempts to collapse it into technoart or something, is where SMS can come in as a focus. Reviewer 2 rightly points out might be more superfluous to your needs; it is also dealt in the literature already, and detracts from the analysis. Begin and stay with museums and art-tech and the insertion of SMS there, rather than meandering through SMS before you get to methods. 

 I hope these comments help you re-work some of the discussion and conclusions you draw from an important case and method. In addition to delivering your revised paper, I would be grateful if you can list and explain your responses to the reviewer recommendations in a cover letter.