[Discuss] [Open Manufacturing] Re: Fwd: The institutionalization of OSHW

Andrew Stone stone at toastedcircuits.com
Tue Oct 2 13:00:24 UTC 2012

I think that much of FOSS in the 80's and 90's was more about
reimplementing libraries that had been implemented 10 proprietary times
before... it was about freeing the basic tools (hammer, nail, screwdriver)
making it easer to build advanced stuff.  None of this "democratizes" the
final industry as you were suggesting -- it "democratizes" the pen-ultimate
"maker" industry -- that is, anyone can make new tires for their car.

There is no economic issue with basic tool development since there is no
intention to have an economy -- in fact the intention is explicitly to NOT
have an economy to reduce the barrier to entry into derivative industries...

And we certainly are seeing OSHW used for this purpose with free electronic
and 3d part libraries, low cost OSHW dev boards and lots more.

But we are also seeing FOSS and OSHW used to push the state of the art...
for example the Linux package management is really the father of the "app
store", and remains significantly better then MS windows installation
alternatives.  And on the hardware side, companies like DIY drones are
trying to hit price/performance points which are orders of magnitude better
then commercial/military alternatives.

Yesterday's economic theory would find this open, non-patented, R&D an
impossible use.  But somehow some instances are thriving.  Its very
interesting to consider why... but I won't do that here for brevity.  But
the massive NRE cost and rapid marketing of knock-offs paints a very scary
picture for CEOs, especially ones that are not looking at the quarterly
fish fry where the VCs turn the CEOs on the spit.

So this is where we see OSHW companies starting to fade back to at least
partially-closed business models.  But lets keep it real and remember that
partially open remains MUCH better then the fully-closed alternative.  And
without knowing the specific details of each company, it is very difficult
to be too critical.  So I'm only asking these players to remember that 1
self-discovered, self-taught contributor is often worth hundreds of
non-contributors... and the ability to re-print a broken part adds
tremendous value to the device itself since parts can be impossible to
source, and 5 to 20 times the raw part cost if it even is possible.


On Sun, Sep 30, 2012 at 3:14 PM, Nathan McCorkle <nmz787 at gmail.com> wrote:

> How far down the rabbit hole do the hair-splitting RMS folks go,
> especially with OSHW, since the processers and gold mines and trains and
> airplanes all part of those manufacturing processes are not open at all.
> Even if the airplane tire was open, along with airplanes,  would that
> democratize transportation?  In 50 or 100 years maybe. Oh, and the stepper
> motors and keyboards and mice and......
> Should all this knowledge be free and available? Have people thought how
> development is incentivized in such an economy? Can an economy even exist
> in that world?
> On Sep 30, 2012 1:31 PM, "Rob Myers" <rob at robmyers.org> wrote:
>> On 09/30/2012 04:46 PM, Bryan Bishop wrote:
>>> From: Chris Church <thisdroneeatspeople at gmail.com
>>> On Sun, Sep 30, 2012 at 7:35 AM, Rob Myers <rob at robmyers.org
>>> <mailto:rob at robmyers.org>> wrote:
>>>  >
>>>  > We all use the same definitions, though. And if a device and its
>>> software doesn't meet them, it isn't "Open Source".
>>> ... and many of us are following the existing definition for open-source
>>> hardware.  As defined here: http://freedomdefined.org/OSHW
>> Yes it's yet another DFSG derivative so it's easy for people to transfer
>> their knowledge to it from software, culture or data definitions based on
>> the DFSG.
>> In particular, for something to be called Open Source, it cannot contain
>> proprietary components.
>>  The only talk of re-definition as of late on the OSHW mailing list and
>>> here, is to further ratchet down the definition - to demand that all
>>> files be distributed in open-source formats, etc.
>> I was responding to the particular post.
>> But that sounds like a sensible idea. Vendor lock-in on formats is a well
>> known problem for access and use of digital materials.
>>  The question at-hand, and the one which started this whole conversation
>>> is "is company X open-source enough."  The example at-hand is the amount
>>> of traffic suggesting to take away from, to shame, and to punish one
>>> specific company for failing to open-source every part which they sell.
>> They are not Open enough *by their own previously stated principles*, the
>> principles that differentiated them and that made many of us their
>> customers and proponents.
>> Without that differentiation there are other cheaper and better "almost
>> open" options that I can buy from in future. Or I can bite the bullet and
>> assemble the materials for a Free design myself. But in neither case is
>> there any reason for me to continue with MakerBot.
>>    And, last I checked, they didn't call that product "open-source," they
>>> said it had "open-source components."
>> Which is a change, and a disappointing one.
>>  I wouldn't call them political decisions, because my basis for them is
>>> different.  It used to be, when I got a radio, or a TV, I got a
>>> schematic to aid in the continuing of its operation.  I still can get
>>> one for my car. I don't see the need of the state or popular opinion in
>>> that...  But, to be clear, so we don't sit here picking hairs and
>>> bike-shedding all day: I don't care whether society is bettered by the
>>> product being open or not, I care whether or not the customer is better
>>> serviced by its being so.
>> That's why Open Source works so well. It doesn't, and I don't, care why
>> someone does the right thing *as long as they do*.
>> Where they do the wrong thing, I'm not going to accept lectures on their
>> special interests as a functional substitute for them doing the right thing.
>>  And the customers shall vote with their wallet.  Of course, let's not
>>> kid ourselves.  For those of us in capitalist society, the expectation
>>> is that a company make a profit - and likewise, it would be economically
>>> irrational to put a non-customer's interest above their own, no?
>> I'm a customer.
>>  I don't think anyone here is claiming that a closed piece of hardware is
>>> open-source.  I haven't seen any such examples from any one on this
>>> list, for sure, or any one bring any examples to my attention as of
>>> late.  Instead, there has been a lot of talk about whether a company
>>> should be tarnished should they make a decision to produce a product
>>> with a closed part and an open part.
>> When they've built their reputation on Open Source, their reputation will
>> be affected if they retreat from Open Source.
>>  That anything but 100% is not enough.
>> It isn't enough to call it Open Source.
>>  Again, I will re-state, the only discussion as of late to re-define
>>> open-source, is to further ratchet it down beyond being simply "open,"
>>> to being "open and shared using x..."
>> I'm not sure how something can be open and not shared, or how introducing
>> proprietary dependencies in designs makes them more Open, but as I say,
>> that is not what I was responding to.
>> - Rob.
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