[Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 10, Issue 26

Matt Maier blueback09 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 6 00:07:57 UTC 2013

Hi Nathan,

So, do you mean specifically when a project is silent on certain high-value
components that make it competitive? Like, if it was really hard to find a
good connector for little modular circuit boards, so the project doesn't
want to give that information away for free, so they release everything
else. In that case they shouldn't be encouraged to call their project
"open" because they are making the conscious decision to withhold their
highest value IP.

That makes sense to me. It's not hard to establish where a project manager
stands in relation to that cutoff. Either they're holding something back or
they're not.

Would you extend that train of thought far enough to include processes in
addition to components? Like, if the connector has to be physically
conditioned (I'm thinking like a new baseball glove) before it will work
correctly, then do those details also have to be released?

If so, then would you extend it even farther to include things like
sourcing? If there's only one factory in the world that makes the thing, or
does the thing, and that factory doesn't advertise, then do they have to
release contact information to be considered more than partially open?
Alternatively, if it can be done anywhere, but it takes a lot of
back-and-forth between the project manager and the manufacturer, then do
they have to release their internal email traffic so that people know what
to ask the manufacturer for?

It's an interesting definition. I'm not going to pretend that I have an
answer on what the best cutoff is.

> ------------------------------
> Message: 3
> Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2013 11:16:34 -0700
> From: Nathan Seidle <nathan at sparkfun.com>
> To: The Open Source Hardware Association Discussion List
>         <discuss at lists.oshwa.org>
> Subject: Re: [Discuss] Google Doc for describing best practices.
> Message-ID:
>         <CAHCf+B=knTHUm9KXaTWKwfwW-TvgH4mEN=
> boCnHKAx+mp_Uorg at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> Hi David - thanks for hammering on this. Ayah - I hope you don't mind but I
> use littlebits as an example. I'd love to hear your feedback.
> I can't quite get wording of an important section of 'Overall' and would
> like to discuss it. Littlebits is an example of mixed open/close. The PCB
> layouts are released (https://github.com/littlebitselectronics), the
> connectors are awesome and novel and unique, but are not released. This mix
> can be found in other projects, Makerbot being a large one. There are lots
> of parts we all use that won't have design docs (ex: microUSB connector),
> but when we the designer have access to the design docs and they are not
> released, then the design is not open source hardware in my eyes. I want to
> be clear that I don't think little bits is doing anything wrong; we've just
> never addressed this aspect. However, going forward I think we need to
> clear up the ambiguity. So here's my stab at the wording:
> Any part of a design that can be opened but is intentionally withheld will
> cause a design to be considered partially open. The rule of thumb: Have I
> released all the source files that I have access to? If the answer is no,
> then the project is not OSHW.
> I don't want to discourage people from releasing! So I'm willing to
> consider 'partially open' wording as a way to allow folks to get the
> benefits of open community while closing parts of a design if they feel the
> need.
> Cheers,
> -Nathan
> --
> Nathan Seidle
> CEO, SparkFun Electronics Inc
> Boulder, CO
> Phone : 1-303-284-0979
> Fax : 1-303-443-0048
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