[Discuss] Free Hardware

Nancy Ouyang nancy.ouyang at gmail.com
Thu Mar 12 18:07:24 UTC 2015

Thanks for codifying that. Proposed solutions (Soln):
*Issue: *made a point of praising the developers doing boring work
Soln: Awards for usability, documentation
Soln: Highly-respected people co-sign a letter agreeing to the sentiment
"open-source lacks usability because good UI design is hard, not because UI
design is lame and not technical"

*Issue: *Demonstrate a need/lack of focus and short attention span:
Soln: I'll try to organize a meetup or unconference in the next few weeks.
Name suggestions welcome... CADcamp? :)

re: Matt Maier,
Generalizations :P I'm a crazy OSHW person because I believe in the larger
idea of "shareable and extensible knowledge,
not because I think I'm the bees knees and hardc0re, although peer respect
would be cool someday :] )

See also: "the surprising truth about what motivates us
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc>", or in short: challenge,
purpose, mastery.

narwhaledu.com, educational robots <http://gfycat.com/ExcitableLeanAkitainu>
 [[<(._.)>]] my personal blog <http://www.orangenarwhals.com>,
arvados.org (open source software for provenance, reproducing, and scaling
your analyses)

On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 12:45 PM, Matt Maier <blueback09 at gmail.com> wrote:

> In the research I did on it I found a fundamental disconnect that will
> always create problems for funding libre work. The primary motivation of
> people who do free/open/libre work is pride in solving a hard problem and
> the secondary motivation is pride in being known by the community as
> someone who solves hard problems.
> They/we don't do it for financial reward. The upside is that it's much
> more likely to be shared openly. The downside is that boring stuff doesn't
> get done.
> The primary misunderstanding is that money is not an actor; money is what
> actors use to influence other actors. It doesn't make any sense to talk
> about money. Instead, talk about the actors. It's easy enough to identify
> the developers who need/want money, but the money doesn't just appear. The
> money comes from other actors. So who are those other actors and why would
> they want to influence the developers with money? Just as importantly, why
> would the developers be influenced by the money? That also helps explain
> why money is sometimes irrelevant, or even counterproductive, as in
> free/libre/open work. It's not about the money, it's about the actors
> influencing each other, and they can do that in ways that don't involve
> money.
> For example, if the community made a point of praising the developers who
> do boring work, like refining user interfaces, or updating documentation,
> more developers would do those things. If the community got together and
> demonstrated there's a need/market for some free/libre/open thing that
> doesn't exist yet more developers would start projects for that thing.
> Anybody who's good enough to be critical to a free/libre/open project is
> good enough to have a day job. That's not the problem. It's the community's
> lack of focus and short attention span that's the problem.
> On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 9:13 AM, Javier Serrano <Javier.Serrano at cern.ch>
> wrote:
>> On 03/12/2015 04:35 PM, Nancy Ouyang wrote:
>> > Anyway, I'm pretty distressed by the millions of dollars being poured
>> > into closed-source 123D, Circuitmaker, OnShape and the continued lack of
>> > interoperability in circuit design land. (also in my opinion we should
>> > explicitly search for UI/design contributors... I think prioritizing
>> > usability could even give open-source tools a lead in EDA).
>> I think that's only part of the problem. So far as the baker in my
>> neighborhood insists on getting euros in exchange for his baguettes, I
>> will need to find a way to be paid for at least some of my work :) The
>> same is true for the developers of KiCad, FreeCAD and other free
>> software tools for hardware design. These tools have gotten to an
>> incredible state in terms of features and quality, given the almost
>> complete absence of monetary rewards for the work people put in, but
>> they still have a long way to go. You can only prioritize usability, as
>> you suggest, if you have people ready to do the coding. There is a limit
>> to what people will do for free-as-in-beer, not because they are greedy
>> (an otherwise very human condition) but because they need to eat, pay
>> rents, dress kids, etc. If we find a way to inject even a small fraction
>> of the millions of dollars you mention into free tool development, I
>> think the results could be game-changing. Maybe OSHWA could play a role
>> here, as the FSF did with the development of gcc, emacs and other
>> components necessary for the development of free software.
>> Cheers,
>> Javier
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