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Open Design

In Antoine de Saint Exupéry's tale the Little Prince meets a businessman who accumulates stars with the sole purpose of being able to buy more stars. The Little Prince is perplexed. He owns only a flower, which he waters every day. Three volcanoes, which he cleans every week. "It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them," he says, "but you are of no use to the stars that you own".

The open-design movement involves the development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information. This includes the making of both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware. It is very similar to open source movement but it is aimed to produce products and not softwares.

As we saw in the critical analysis of needs, goods and services are largely produced/provided by corporations or organisation which have considerable power and capital to be able to produce. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company. Open design puts the power into the hands of people and thus aims to democratise access.

Needless to say, open design is anti intellectual property. Patents are evil and patent royalty is theft. "COVID-19 vaccine formula should not be shared with developing nations" Bill Gates.

Some notable work in this space:

  • iFixit is free and open portal that helps you repair almost anything (physical).

  • instructables is a platform that provides open and free step by step instructions to make almost anything. It is crowd sourced.

  • Mozilla is the world's largest open source community does a lot of open design stuff and they recently collaborated with the design studio nosigner to design their office and put it out as open design.

  • Arduino is an open-source electronics hardware platform, community and company.

  • Thingiverse by makerbot is an open source community based portal where one could find free 3D models for printing.

  • Blender is a free and open 3D modelling and animation software, along with free tutorials.

  • Creative Commons which legitimises open source knowledge and projects.

mozilla open source office design by nosigner

This list is expanding and more interesting things are happening in this space as we speak. The future is open and open is incompatible with the current system of capitalism that only encourages intellectual property. We desperately need to move towards a society that believes in common good for personal profits.

Everything on conshumourism is under copyleft, open and free to be shared, used and developed. Conshumourism believes in sharing.

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