[Discuss] Economic value / non value of OSH work

Antoine, as a contact of a free smallwindturbine project smallwindturbineproj.contactor at gmail.com
Sun Sep 7 09:02:37 UTC 2014

Hi Franz and the list.
I just add some comments, if relevant in this cost/price reasonning.

Question of value, is as simple as complex.
Question: Value of money ? or value of contribution for Humanity ? Or for
Univers ?
The answer to the question of what is the value in term of money (or money
equivalence), is not so difficult. However, answer is not unique. It
depends of the deep, the width and the relevancy of the skill of the
answerer, its goals, its believes, and the goals of the structure for which
the answerer gives the answer. Pricing as always be funny to study, as
strategy study is.
The value in term of money, for a "tangible physical thing, but not
software" delivered via a "free licence", could be zero, as soon as the
entire supply chain is delivered at zero cost. That is the way free
software are delivered: it is considered that all the supplay chain to get
and install a free software, is at zero cost for the user. In the reality,
it is not correct. The supply chain to get a free software delivered for
free, is not at zero cost. But the user imagine it is. The same could be
done for a "free opensource hardware".


2014-09-02 16:32 GMT+02:00 Franz Nahrada <f.nahrada at reflex.at>:

>   Dear Joshua,
> I am rarely posting to this list because I am not a primarily technical
> person, but a social scientist, but your questions provokes me.
> My answer would rather be: One cannot simply calculate the value of OSH
> work. In our German circle named Oekonux (Economy of Free Software) we had
> a legendary presentation done by Stefan Meretz in 2000 - "Linux/GNU is
> value free  and thats a good thing". I do not know if a translation exists
> http://www.kritische-informatik.de/index.htm?lxwertl.htm
> The point is that value is the form a product takes that is made for
> exchange. It must be an exclusive product that is only available for an
> equivalent, representing the equal amount of value. To offer something  of
> value, you have to  possess it. Which finally means the best thing is to
> produce it. Production therefore is the substance of value, measured in
> time. If there is a need for the product, the nature of the need is not
> relevant - just that the need represents an equivalent, a quantity of value
> that can be exchanged.
> Free Software or Hardware designs are not made for exchange, so they
> simply have no economic value.
> Nobody can determine economic value, its a myth of economists. All the
> time people produce too little or too much, so value exists only as a
> tendency of approximating the average, which is the very reason why this
> ecomnomy is so dynamic and so prone to crisis.
> If you would calculate a fee for your OpenSCAD file, the question of value
> wourld make sense. then you would be in competition with others trying to
> collect money.
> But Free Hardware, as Free Software, is embedded in a totally different
> logic. Instead of competing, we are cooperating. And in cooperation, the
> non-exchange meaning of value rises and rises. In a way, every contribution
> becomes priceless ;-) - because it is part of the repository and available
> for many future uses.
> And in dealing with a monetary and cost world, we might have to argue for
> the contributions that we make, asking for a share.
> Michel Bauwens and the P2P Foundation came up with the idea of a P2P
> license. They say: businesses appropriate the work of communities and
> developers of common goods for free. The more communistic our license
> (->GPL), the more capitalistic their appropriation. Therefore we must  ask
> for a fee from thoise who do not contribute to the common good.
> I think there must be a better solution. We should not compromise the
> bridge to the commercial world for a cheap deal. But society has to
> acknowledge there is value in what we do. Even if in strict economic terms
> there is not. So finding the best solution for this problem will be a
> decisive social hack.
> all the best
> Franz Nahrada
> Global Villages Network
> Vienna, Austria
> *The Open Source Hardware Association Discussion List
> <discuss at lists.oshwa.org <discuss at lists.oshwa.org>> schreibt:*
> I know that many of you has been thinking about how to determine the value
> of OSH work. Are you aware of any methods to calculate absolute value in
> real economic terms?
> For example if you spend an hour of your time making an OpenSCAD file for
> a parametric test tube rack and put it in the public domain - and then for
> the rest of time anyone can download the file, customize the rack for their
> needs and print it for the cost of materials and a tiny amount of
> electricity. How much is that gift worth?
> Clearly it is more than your opportunity cost or wage for one hour...but
> how much more is the value to humanity?
> Is it:
> (cost to purchase - cost to print) x (number of people downloading it)?
> or
> (hourly wage of person needing a test tube rack) x (number of people using
> it)?
> or
> total value of the test tube market - (cost to print)x (number of racks in
> the market) ....summed for N years?
> or
> As the cost of test tube racks has now decreased it is the total value of
> the current market + a bonus for expanding future use because of lower
> costs + some kind of educational bonus because more schools can afford them
> + some fraction of future discoveries made possible because now part of the
> expense of doing science was decreased.....
> or
> Is there a better way to do this - and get to quantification?
> Thanks!
> Joshua
> _______________________________________________
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> discuss at lists.oshwa.org
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