In keeping with the fab lab project’s goal of discovering which tools and processes would be most useful in the field, we started setting up these labs long before we knew how best to do it. The response in the field was as immediate as it had been at MIT. We ended up working in so many far-flung locations because we found a demand for these capabilities around the world that was every bit as strong as that around campus. In the village of Pabal in western India, there was interest in using the lab to develop measurement devices for applications ranging from milk safety to agricultural engine efficiency. In Bithoor, on the bank of the Ganges, local women wanted to do three-dimensional scanning and printing of the carved wooden blocks used for chikan, a local kind of embroidery. Sami herders in the Lyngen Alps of northern Norway wanted wireless networks and animal tags so that their dara could be as nomadic as their animals. People in Ghana wanted to create machines directly powered from their abundance sunlight instead of scarce electricity. Children in inner-city Boston used their fab lab to turn scrap material into sellable jewelry.
Instead of bringing information technology to the masses, fablabs show that it's possible to bring the tools for IT development, in order to develop and produce local technological solution to local problems.
Instead of spending vast sums to send computers around the world, it is possible to send the means to make them. Instead of trying to interest kids in science as received knowledge, it's possible to equip them to DO science, giving them both the knowledge and the tools to discover it. Instead of building better bombs, emerging technology can help build better communities.
src: Gershenfeld, N. (2005). Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop - from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication. New York: Basic Books.