@ohsummit #ohsummit – Panel: Implications of Open Source Business: Forking and Attribution – NOTES!


Panel: Implications of Open Source Business: Forking and Attribution 60 mins + QA with audience, David Mellis, Hernando Barragan, Catarina Mota, Nathan Seidle, Josef Prusa. Moderator: Michael Weinberg.

Here are our notes (things said by the panel)–
First was a question for the group, are there ways we can define open source hardware. We have a good definition, we have a good definition, it’s harder to work on one file and hardware vs software. We have norms and it’s pretty well known what’s ok, etc. We are seeing OSHW growing very fast, the definition might need to expand to more than just hardware. There is a difference between what is legal and what is right. It’s morals vs. rules. Big companies are contacting and approaching OSHWA, there is not a cook book or well known way to work with companies yet. OSHWA could/should have this role. As long as OSHWA is non-profit, no biz interests, seems like something they could do. In RepRap there isn’t a leader, anyone can make any printer the current one. Hardware makers are not shy, they’re making a lot of hardware. Scaling OSHW – last year, at the summit multiple companies saying they love OSHW but struggled making it work for the businesses. It’s possible to have an OSHW company and support 145+ people with a good business model. Viability is not a closed source vs open source issue — it’s a business issue. As long as business is going well, easier to do OSHW. OSHW business are hard to run, there are many benefits from the community. Scaling – many companies here are selling things to people who know how to solder. Is there another market for non-makers. OSHWA wants to be a hardware association (not an electronics association). More and more crowdsourcing, more projects will go to higher levels. Look to Elon’s Musk TELSA Hyperloop “this is an open source transportation project”. Everything can be open sourced. 3D printers and laser cutters and now in many places, we are getting new compilers. 3D printers will be easier for everyone to use. Can’t think of 1 thing that doesn’t make sense to open source, there’s always at least 2% who need to modify something. What makes open hardware better than the alternatives, fashion has no protection, compete on speed, design, etc. Dealextreme / cloners compete on price. It’s not an open vs close, it’s business strategies to stay competitive. Open source hardware will survive because it will need to be a good business as well as being open source. Possible ideas for OSHW companies, tax breaks, patent length, lowered. OSHW companies are not looking for a break, we choose OSHW because it’s better. We are Open Source HW because we don’t want a break. We don’t want to be able to sit on our laurels. Collaboration on hardware, what is the state of the tools? Divs in hardware, EAGLE is used, GitHub is used, google apps. Collection of tools vs one tool for electronics. Interchange formats. For frameworks, allow to share code easily. Incentives – how good of a job does the OSHW community sharing what the people doing good OSHW is doing. OSHWA could aggregate amazing projects, a place to see all projects, community. Community doing decent job welcoming people to hackerspaces, out of garages. Work needs to be done outside the USA. Where do you go to find out about new great projects. Where do people go to find out about OSHW projects (Hack-a-day, blogs…). Helping people make things for themselves, good way to demonstrate what OSHW is.

Questions from audience:

  • Threats on horizon for OSHW? Patent trolls? Large orgs FCC and more not set up to deal with small companies.
  • Talk more about FCC, certifications. FCC and OSHW not seen as a great threat to the community at this time.
  • When we make open hardware, we make connections, when cloners clone they’re not cloning the community. When people clone it, does it take away from business. With clones it’s not adding on.
  • Trust of community – Information should be complete, where ideas come from, what things are based on. Knowing the process, learning from the process is important. Wiring/Arduino/RepRap/LilyPad/FLORA. Many of us here because of the work of processsing/wiring/arduino. Renewed LilyPad development after FLORA released.
  • OSHW and education – what is it’s role. Bits are less expensive than atoms. Tools and tool chains will allow prices to get lower to build locally.
  • Design philosophy – at what point do you draw the line on OSHW? Don’t draw the line. Good where there are proprietary lives, OSHW can go there and do good work, lower pricing, better designs.

More here on Twitter.

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