COSMOLOCALISM* will document, analyze, test, evaluate, and create awareness of an emerging mode of production, based on the confluence of the digital commons (e.g., open knowledge and design) with local manufacturing and automation technologies (from 3D printing and CNC machines to low-tech tools and crafts). This convergence could catalyze the transition to new inclusive and circular production models, such as the “design global, manufacture local” (DGML) model.
DGML describes the processes through which design is developed as a global digital commons, whereas the manufacturing takes place locally, through shared infrastructures and with local biophysical conditions in check. DGML seems to form economies of scope that promote sustainability and open innovation while celebrating new ways of cooperation. However, such claims rest on thin conceptual and empirical foundations.
COSMOLOCALISM is a pilot-driven investigation of the DGML phenomenon that seeks to understand relevant organizational models, their evolution, and their broader political economy/ecology and policy implications. Through the lens of diverse case studies and participatory action research, the conditions under which the DGML model thrives will be explored.
COSMOLOCALISM has three concurrent modules: democratization; innovation; and sustainability. First, DGML governance practices will be studied, patterns will be recognized, and their form, function, cultural values, and structure will be determined. Second, the relevant open innovation ecosystems and their potential to reorient design and manufacturing practices will be examined. Third, selected DGML products will be evaluated from an environmental sustainability perspective, involving both qualitative and quantitative methods. The interdisciplinary nature of COSMOLOCALISM will explore new horizons to substantively improve our understanding of how to create sustainable economies through the commons.
* “Cosmolocalism” comes from the concept of “cosmopolitan localism”, introduced by Wolfgang Sachs in 1992.