Matt Ratto

Printer-friendly version
Contact Information
Associate Professor

Matt Ratto received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego in 2003, writing his dissertation on the social organization of the Linux development community. Following this, he completed a 2 year post-doc at the Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information (NIWI) and in 2005 helped create the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences in Amsterdam (VKS-KNAW). In 2005, he was awarded a Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO) grant to study the use of computer simulation and modeling technologies and in 2007 was given a research fellowship in the HUMlab, an innovative digital humanities laboratory located at the University of Umea, Sweden. He moved to the University of Toronto in 2008. 

Administrative responsibilities: 

Culture and Technology Concentration Liaison
Chair, Awards Committee
Faculty representative for Division II, University of Toronto Graduate Education Council (GEC)
Director, Critical Making Lab
Director, Semaphore Research Cluster for Inclusive Design, Mobile and Pervasive Computing
Faculty, Book History and Print Culture Collaborative Program
Faculty, Knowledge Media Design Institute, University of Toronto


Matt Ratto is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto and directs the Semaphore Research cluster on Inclusive Design, Mobile and Pervasive Computing and, as part of Semaphore, the Critical Making lab. His work explores the intersections between digital technologies and the human life world, with a particular focus on new developments that trouble the divide between online and offline modes of production. Ratto is an avowed expert on 3D printing and digital fabrication, having carried out research on this topic since 2009. His research also addresses pervasive and ubiquitous technologies including wearable computing and the Internet of Things. Ratto created and ran the ThingTank ( from 2009-2011, a collaborative project between private, non-profit, and academic partners working collectively on new IoT products and services.  

His work crosses both the boundaries between the digital and physical world and the divide between humanities and engineering disciplines. He coined the term ‘critical making” in 2007 to describe work that combines humanities insights and engineering practices, and has published extensively on this concept. A current project involves the development of a cost-effective software and hardware toolchain for the scanning, design, and 3D printing of lower-limb prostheses for use in the developing world. This work is being carried out in partnership with non-profit CBM Canada, CoRSU hospital in Uganda, Autodesk inc., and Toronto prosthetics and orthodics experts. 

Selected publications: 

Ratto, M (2016) Making in the Age of Geo-Engineering, ACM Interactions cover article, Sept., 2016.

Rismani, S., Ratto, M, Van der Loos, M. (2016) Use of Activity Theory-based Need Finding for Biomedical Device Development Conference: 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Orlando, FL, 17-20 August 2016.

Qua Hiansen J, Ratto M, Mashari A, Meineri M. Low-cost 3D printing and free, open-source software to develop patient specific lumbar and thoracic spine phantoms for the training of ultrasound-guided epidural procedure [abstract]. In: American Association of Medical Colleges Information Technology in Academic Medicine Conference; 2016 June 1-3; Toronto, ON.

Qua Hiansen J, Mashari A, Ratto M, Meineri M. Low-Cost 3D-Printed Thoracic Spine Models for Thoracic Epidural Insertion Training In: Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesia 5th Annual Thoracic Anesthesia Symposium; 2016 Apr 1-2; San Diego, CA: Chicago (IL): SCA; 2016, Abstract nr TS40

Mashari A, Qua Hiansen J, Ratto M, Meineri M. 3D Printing a Variable-Difficulty, Multi-model Bronchoscopy Training System In: Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesia 5th Annual Thoracic Anesthesia Symposium; 2016 Apr 1-2; San Diego, CA: Chicago (IL): SCA; 2016, Abstract nr TS41.

coons, ginger “all-lower-case”, and Matt Ratto. (2015) “Grease Pencils and the Persistence of Individuality in Computationally Produced Custom Objects.” Design Studies.

Record, Isaac, ginger coons, Daniel Southwick, Matt Ratto “Regulating the Liberator: Prospects for the Regulation of 3D Printing”, in the Journal of Peer Production #6: (2015) Disruption and the Law,

Ryan Schmidt, ginger coons, Vincent Chen, Timotheius Gmeiner, and Matt Ratto. 2015. 3D- printed prosthetics for the developing world. In SIGGRAPH 2015: Studio (SIGGRAPH '15). ACM, New York, NY, USA, , Article 21 , 1 pages. DOI=

J. Qua Hiansen, E. Aziza, A. Mashari, M. Massimilliano, M. Metias, S. Zhou, M. Ratto. The use of an open source tool chain to develop patient specific anatomical models for fabrication on a range of capability specific D printers. In: Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering 2015; September 1 - 5, 2015; Montreal, Canada. Abstract 94.

Ratto, Matt and Megan Boler (2014) DIY Citizenship: Critical Making and Social Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ratto, Matt, Kirk Jalbert and Sara Wylie. “Critical Making as Research Program: introduction to the forum on Critical Making.” Special Forum issue on Critical Making, The Information Society 30(2). (2014) 85-95.

Wylie, Sara, Kirk Jalbert , Shannon Dosemagen & Matt Ratto “Institutions for Civic Technoscience: How Critical Making is Transforming Environmental Research,” The Information Society 30:2, (2014) 116-126.

Schmidt, Ryan and Matt Ratto. “Design-to-Fabricate: Maker Hardware Requires Maker Software.” IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications. (November 2013).

Year joined the iSchool: 
© 2015 University of Toronto, Faculty of Information
140 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 3G6
| Notice of Collection of Personal Information

Back to Top