[Discuss] Fwd: The institutionalization of OSHW

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Sun Sep 30 16:44:30 UTC 2012

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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