[Discuss] [Open Manufacturing] Re: Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam, New York City, April 26-28

Nathan Cravens knuggy at gmail.com
Fri Mar 8 03:20:05 UTC 2013

The 'OSHW Documentation Taxonomy Items' document is a great push
forward for establishing open hardware standards. The jam will no
doubt be very fruitful with all the excellent people involved with the
OSHWA so far. I see this institution as setting the greatly needed
industry standards to come. Also, the website can provide a good place
to find top products and producers of the highest standards of free
and openness, while encouraging the evolution of product components to
become all the more free and open.

After viewing some of the discussion concerning identifying openness,
the subject of labelling comes to mind. I'd like to suggest a ranking
order, where the most open producers are rewarded with the highest
praise (with an award ceremony?) and website promotion, encouraging
the product network to open up, and the like, while providing a model
for others that are becoming increasingly open or interested.

Starting in reverse order, with each step incorporating the features
of the levels below it, from base entry to highest ranking:

1. OSHWA Red Label. An elected committee would evaluate a particular
product to deem it worthy of approval. When so, the stamp can be used
to promote the product, and OSHWA can in turn promote it on its
product/agency list page. Fees (or commitments) for these services and
others can be decided by the same elected committee. Obviously, there
will and should be ongoing debate on what makes a product 'open
source'. In my view, with today's constraints, a Bill of Materials,
documentation: like code and schematics, where to locate subcomponents
(for purchasing or otherwise), and easy to understand assembly
instructions, are enough to constitute a product as 'open source',
even if all subcomponents are proprietary. Then comes determining and
maximizing ways to encourage producers of subcomponents to also become
affiliated with the OSHWA, removing existing constraints, to make
product details as transparent and easy to self-assemble as possible,
with membership rewards, like material price discounts between
members, or better, materials sharing. Extending the features of OSHWA
in that way would be very valuable for everyone, helping further blur
the line between producer and user.

2. OSHWA Silver. More than half of product subcomponents are under the
OSHWA Red Label.

3. OSHWA Gold. All subcomponents are under the OSHWA Red Label.

4. OSHWA Platinum. A majority of subcomponent items are gifted by
partnership agreements to make a more affordable product.

5. OSHWA Diamond. A free and open product with the exception of
shipping and packaging costs, including the shipping and packaging
costs of subcomponents. This level is achieved by having materials
gifted by member contract with volunteers or robots fully assemble a
product or robotically produce subcomponents, likely from a single
location, for the user to assemble using commonly available tools,
ideally, or referral to the nearest hackspace workshop for guest
access for final assembly.

6. OSHWA Double Diamond. A truly free and open product using robotic
vehicles to deliver the product for free using a reusable shipping

Some may consider these labels too forward looking, but with robotics
and the components to make them becoming increasingly more capable and
affordable, notably contributions to ROS doubling yearly, sensors
rapidly increasing in resolution and reducing in cost, with
pick-and-place robots now easy to train without programming knowledge,
namely, Baxter, equalling the cost of a Chinese worker, along with the
increasing popularity of 3D printing, notes a few elements in the
production ecology better enabling automated and localized production.

OSHWA, with many other efforts, will help make physical and
intellectual production a free resource in the long run. Lobbying or
reformation of governments for the purpose of IP, and eventually,
legal protections for physical common property arrangements, along
with an accompanied 'public resource user interface' (elegantly
(simple and relevant) presenting how a product is made, where
materials come from, including real-time views of a product during
assembly and delivery, for example) extending the 'GitHub for
Hardware' analogy are also vital to enabling truly free and open

I see the OSHWA topping the list of potential contenders at present to
spearhead such efforts.


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