Mass imagineering: Combining human imagination and automated engineering from early education to digital afterlife

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    Imagineering is a portmanteau combining the words imagination and engineering. The term, imagineering, was coined during the early 1940s. Since the new Millennium, imagineering has grown to the scale of a mass paradigm, because of the increasing scope and availability of automated engineering. Automated engineering is enabled by sophisticated software and artificial intelligence (AI) across the virtual-social-physical convergence (VSP) of consumer devices, desktop machines, and Web platforms. The combining of human imagination with automated engineering is enabling millions of vloggers, self-publishers and makers to imagineer at high speed and low cost. This mass imagineering can range from early education to digital afterlife. It involves makerspaces, fab labs, hackerspaces, as well as use of disparate devices, machines, and platforms “in the wild”. In this paper, three principal contributions to the literature are provided. First, mass imagineering is described from early education to digital afterlife. Second, analysis of structure and agency in mass imagineering is provided. This reveals that individual agency varies in different settings for mass imagineering, but is always more than in mass production and mass customization settings. Third, division of labour analysis of mass imagineering is provided. This reveals that mass imagineering extends labour outside of paid employment, such as in the home, towards greater self-expression and increased entrepreneurship. This is possible because of increasing automated engineering across VSP enabled by devices, machines, and platforms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-171
    Number of pages9
    JournalTechnology in Society
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed



    • Agency
    • Artificial intelligence (AI)
    • Automation
    • Convergence
    • Division of labour
    • Employment
    • Fab labs
    • Hackerspaces
    • Happiness
    • Imagineering
    • Makerspaces
    • Mass customization
    • Mass imagineering
    • Mass production
    • Structure
    • Virtual-social-physical convergence

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