[Discuss] discuss Digest, Vol 10, Issue 26

Nathan Seidle nathan at sparkfun.com
Wed Mar 6 01:10:15 UTC 2013

Hi Matt -

> 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?

SparkFun shares a lot of its process because we think its kind of neat and
we enjoy sharing. But withholding a process (such as how to batch program
Arduino Fios) does not impede a person from replicating your work, it does
however impeded their ability to build lots of an item or build an item to
a level of quality. Rule of thumb: Is there enough shared that I can learn
how to build my own copy? If the answer is yes, then it's open. I'd argue
that sharing of processes are outside the realm of OSHW. Good to do, but
shouldn't be required.

> 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?

Ah! Great question. Supplier info is one of the things companies, such as
SparkFun, hold more guarded. We do not obfuscate datasheets or scratch the
tops of ICs but we have not, up to this point, listed contact details on
BOMs. Why am I hesitant to disclose all 224 of our supplier's information?

* We have invested lots of money/time in discovering and cultivating that
supplier. It can be considered business advantage over other businesses.
* We don't believe sharing contact information will help the end user be
more successful in using our product.

It goes back to the question: Is there enough shared that I can learn how
to build my own copy? If it's a generic part, it's acceptable but not ideal
to leave out supplier info.

I'm not married to my views and welcome the debate. (But the google/digest
thing is killing me. Hard to follow the threads. Anyone have a better
system? Forum?)

Nathan Seidle
CEO, SparkFun Electronics Inc
Boulder, CO
Phone : 1-303-284-0979
Fax : 1-303-443-0048
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