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Re: [ox-en] What if the designs of everything were free?

I guess we can all see a time where almost all software is
free and it appears that this would work quite well :-)

It certainly will work for any area where the programmer has motive for
writing the software. But there still seem to be areas where this does
not happen, and some of them may turn into significant stumbling

From my own experience, Free Software has not yet made inroads into
CAD/CAM. Whilst there is accounting software (sql-ledger) there isn't
payroll software.

At present, the only software licenses we purchase are for CAM and
payroll. (If anyone *is* writing Free CAM software, get in touch!)

But we are in the old anarchist debate - "But Sir, in your proposed
anarchist utopia, who will clean the sewers?" "Madam, you seem to be
aware of the problem - that makes you the logical choice."

What if all the designs of things that are designed on
computers were also made free -- under a GPL style
license, and their evloution was organised via open email

Of course, this already happens - see the OHGPL for an example, and
there is a lot of other stuff under and other places in a
similar vein. However, there may still be a difference between what can
be done by a disparate diffident group of contributors, and what can be
done by a highly-resourced focussed team. The issue we need to address
is how to generate the equivalent of highly-resourced focussed teams
without the current model of producing them.

I don't only mean washing machines and car but buildings
and machines that produce other machines etc.

Is this something that it is possible to imagine within


By the very nature of the beast, capitalism involves the ownership of
most (by value) of the resources and tools by a small body of people who
do not make use of them directly, but rather indirectly, with their
intent being to increase their ownership of the resources.

The kind of economics that open design documentation produces rather
opposes this. For example, open design => repair, reuse and maintenance
rather than dispose and purchase.

Also, the "competitition" process inherent in cartel distribution
(*don't* call it a market, it isn't) tends to ensure that only
high-volume production is "feasible" - this locks-in design to mass
manufacturing rather than quality production.

Then there are simple problems with tool costs. For example, a mask set
for a semiconductor can run into the $millions. A single good CNC
machine tool can cost $200 000. These high-investment components act as
a wondrous barrier to entry for those on the other side of the fence.

cheers, Rich.


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rich walker | technical person | Shadow Robot Company | rw
front-of-tshirt space to let     251 Liverpool Road   |
                                 London  N1 1LX       | +UK 20 7700 2487

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