Coworking spaces, fab labs, maker spaces, media labs… What does it mean, what does it bring?

Almost one year since RGCS started.

What about the novely of the phenomenon? Are we entering into a new world? Are we attending to the end of waged employment? Will we all become independant employers and makers in tomorrow’s society? For sure, it is too early to state such a deep, structural, change.

Will we still talk about cowworking spaces in 10 years? Will we talk about maker spaces, media labs, fab labs? Part of the vocabulary will probably disappear, and part of the trend will remain.

But my conviction is elsewhere. Today’s novelty is elesewhere.

These new collaborative spaces link tendencies which for long have been independant: public policies and management, on the one hand. Transformation of societies and transformation of work, on the other hand.

Firstly, I am convinced that the choices done by the Mairie de Paris, Conseil Régional Ile de France or other public structures (e.g. GPSO, ministères…) about Paris’ new urbanism have rarely been so implicitly full of managerial choices, new modes of management, or rather, assumptions about what management and organizations are becoming. We would be entering into an entrepreneurial world, mobilities will become continuous, communities should be the heart of organizations and organizing… Is it good or bad? I do not judge the belief itself, and I have no idea at the moment. But I believe that it should be discussed and debated more explicitly.

Then, I think that many collaborative spaces (at least those I visited and elsewhere in France or in Europe) make strong (implicit) assumptions about public policies and what they are becoming. They also make strong political statements. New places of the city will become more managerial and productive. New collaborative spaces have a social responsability for all this. Some of them are ‘militant’ places, political laboratories (more in Paris that in London) where new ideas, concepts, models of collective life and collective work will emerge.

Are we attending to a missed ‘rendez-vous’? Beyond visiting quickly fashionable fab labs or maker spaces, I think that our politicians should discuss more seriously with the representatives of these places. They are at the core of new trends likely to produce new ideas, far beyond debates such as the ‘uberisation’ of economy. On their side, managers of collaborative spaces should gather (beyond mere communication or internal debates) to make new proposals for tomorrows society and tomorrow’s public policy about entrepreneurship, production, education, urbanism, mobilities.

Collaborative economy is only a part of all this. And I am not sure that some ideologies I see behind the very idea of ‘collaborative’ or ‘sharing’ economy are that good by themselves. Do I share my car, or do I simply rent a seat in it? Do I share, or do I find a way to have a (low income) to survive in a tough society where unemployment is becoming the rule?

That’s all I wanted to say this suny Sunday in Paris 🙂

FdV

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