Saturday, October 08, 2005

Open Source Products on IDFuel

Domin Murren is again postulating open source principals in a product design sense, this time entertaining the idea in more detail.

"It might not really be possible yet, because of differences in ease of replication of computer programs and physical objects, but it probably will be possible within the next 20 years. "

He attributes the viability of OSPD to ease of replication, something which I have never thought was necessarily inherent for the Open Source movement. Replication, sure, as a necessity for distribution, but this already exists in the form of manufacturers, indeed mass manufacture. It seems to me the barrier is more in the liaison with manufacturing, the feeding of product ideas and forms to the manufacturer - this is obviously not as publicly accessible now as OSPD would like or require. So perhaps that is the rub. We require more local and small scale means of manufacture and replication. But these are tools we all have access to, depending on the complexity of what it is we are trying to create. That is why the first open source products should and, already have occurred as, extremely simple, almost home-craft based objects and systems that can be easily produced on a small, local scale. The convergence of the open source movement and product design will then depend upon the development of more direct means of manufacture.
So I guess I agree with Dominic - an interesting point is whether manufacture necessarily implies replication? They are seperate concepts, manufacture being the act of making and replication being more to do with information duplication, which is already ridiculously accessible for many. Is replication necessary in an open source model? Yes, because in place of a global distribution model it is the only means of distribution. In a sense, products could be produces en masse at the information stage and manufactured one-for one at a local level. Even this one to one mapping between product information and object manufacture might not be necessary.

I'm getting fuzzy again, not really making much progress here am I..

Basically, we can see OSPD models occurring at an embryonic stage now using easy information replication and limited local access to manufacturing - hence current examples of open source products coming from existing manufacturing models at a very slow pace. For the pace to increase, access to manufacturing will have to improve. Hence many current examples of OSPD being essentially cottage industries. Replication appears to be necessary within the process but I am unclear where and how exactly. It might not even matter..

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