Open Hardware Summit, Sept 23, 2010

So what exactly is open source hardware?  We’re getting closer to a consensus definition, thanks to Ayah Bdeir and Eyebeam.  A few months ago, she put together a workshop on open source hardware, and invited a group of people who are making businesses of it, along with some great legal practitioners working on open source issues. It wasn’t a comprehensive group, but there were a lot of smart and practical people there to get some good work done. We talked about our work and the practicalities of running open source businesses, we argued about what the limits of openness are, and we started working on a draft of a working definition. The discussion continued online, as did the writing and the arguing.

The result is this Open Source Hardware (OSHW) Draft Definition version 0.3. I think it’s a pretty realistic definition, and I’m proud to be counted among the folks who drafted it.  There are many whose thinking (and doing) I admire in the discussion.

But wait!  That’s not the best part!  Ayah’s not done!  She and Alicia Gibb have organized an Open Hardware Summit this fall to present these ideas, and continue the discussion. Here are the details, in Ayah’s words:

I started getting interested in Open Hardware as a vehicle for innovation and social change while a student at the CCG group at the MIT Media Lab, and got fully immersed in it while a senior fellow at Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in New York. Now, I am a (crazy!) strong believer in the power of Open Hardware. When I started littleBits, I jumped into the many challenges of porting the Open Source Software movement to tangible objects.

As I worked closely on legal strategy with incredible advisor, John Wilbanks, VP of Science at Creative Commons (CC), we decided to create a venue for the community to interface with CC, and embark on a mission to help catalyze an Open Hardware license. The workshop, entitled “Opening Hardware: A workshop on Legal tools for open source hardware” took place at Eyebeam on March 17th and featured OH pioneers such as Arduino, Adafruit, Buglabs, MakerBot, Chumby as well as Jonathan Kuniholm (Open Prosthetics), Chris Anderson (Wired), Mako Hill (OLPC, Wikipedia), Becky Stern (Make), Jon Philips (Qi), Shigeru Kobayashi (Gainer), Thinh Nguyen and John Wilbanks (CC) and us (littleBits, Eyebeam). Since then we, and an incredible group of OH stars (Evil Mad Scientist, Parallax, Sparkfun, Lilypad), have started putting together a definition that today, we are very excited to release in version 0.3 for public comment.

Recently, I have been appointed as Creative Commons fellow – a very important step which shows CC’s commitment to our community.  And on September 23rd, Alicia Gibb (Buglabs) and myself are chairing the Open Hardware Summit as part of MakerFaire. We will be discussing the OH license, and hope to put version 1.0 out to the world!

So if you’re interested in open source hardware, it’s worth coming to New York in September. It should be an exciting event.

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