Why (Scholarly) Happiness is a Warm (Just Off the Printer) Gun

3D GunIt’s a gun. A printed gun. And it is the most important scholarly “publication” I have encountered for some time.

Recently Matt Ratto (Director of the Critical Making Lab at the iSchool, University of Toronto; @mattratto) has received a lot of press about the gun he printed in his lab.

Looking at the gun and considering its genesis is the key experience. However, there are a number of good pieces that reflect on its nature and implications (“The Professor Who Printed a Handgun” from the Chronicle, and a something from Matt himself “Not Print Print Bang Bang: 3D Printed Guns and the Illusion of Digital Immateriality“).

As Matt cautions, this is not a fetish object; it is not about the gun as a curiosity or even as a product. The gun is a statement and a question; an investigation and a methodology.

The printed gun is a scholarly contribution in that it engenders a critical dialogue about what it means to be able to do this and how we will act with this capacity. Like the best of research contributions it has rigour and risk.

I’m not sure how P&T committees or funding agency evaluation panels are going to view this gun. And I’m certainly not sure how traditional bibliometrics or even altmetrics will assess its impact. However, for me, this is the most significant scholarly article of the year.


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