Open Source Products, Ecosystems & Business Making

Log

  • Open Source Hardware Course at SRH Berlin, December 2020
  • Open Source Hardware Course at SRH Berlin, April 2021

Link

opencircularity.info/osb

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QUICK ACCESS:
SESSION 1, SESSION 2

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SESSION 1

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Hi.

I am Lars. I run a company that makes Open Source Hardware. And we will have two sessions together to invent some ideas for products and start ups aiming to leverage the possibilities of Open Source.

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1. Task I – Your idea

You’ll form groups and develop an idea for a product or company that leverages the possibilities of open source.

Open Source hardware products work commercially BECAUSE they are Open Source, not DESPITE of it.

BECAUSE they leverage Open Source as a means to something not adding it as a cherry on top of a product.

So we’ll learn how to design a product that is set to work as an Open Source product.

Have you already created an idea? If not. Make one.

For this keep in mind. The vast majority of successful open source products produce building blocks for other projects. So things that want others to creatively work with them. And this creativity then is supported by Open Source. Maybe you can already think about that when creating your idea:

How is this a building block for others? Or how could it be redesigned to be a building block?

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▷ 10 minutes work 

Create document in your group everyone can edit and at 2 or 3 sentences about your idea there. Idea: …

▷ presentation 1 minute per group

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2. Openness Discussion – Mapping Ecosystems

Understand: The core of Open Source is to enable people to do more with a product than just buy and consume it.

“ … hardware whose design is made publicly available so that anyone can study, modify, distribute, make, and sell the design or hardware based on that design.“

(Open Source Hardware Definition)

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Enabled actors might create a different ecosystem for you than a regular closed source product – an ecosystem that emerges because people carry out the activities mentioned in the definition (study, modify, distribute, make & sell).

This potential ecosystem needs to be understood and supported. When you do this you understand your product (and how it needs to be designed and communicated) and your business strategy better.

For this we created a tool – the „Open Platform Design Flowchart“ or „Openness Discussion“ (First shared here) We made Videos explaining the tool step by step live in an exhibition. The video especially the sound quality is not great. If you prefer to read a transcript instead please go → here (scroll down to Video 4 which is about square 1 of the tool, Video 5 is about square 2 and so on).

We will use this tool to map your product. The tool consists of 6 fields each asking a question all connect to each other. Let’s go !

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↓ The Tool


1. OPEN UP

What assets has your company? What elements has your product? Can you make it open? (Video)


Item

Description

Item

Description

2. ACTIONS ENABLED

What stakeholders do you involve, what can they do with the opened assets and elements?  (Video)


Item

Description

Item

Description

3. YOUR BENEFITS

How can you benefit from these stakeholders making such actions? (Video)


Item

Description

Item 

Description

4. STAKEHOLDERS BENEFITS

How can these actions benefit the stakeholders themselves? (Video)


Item

Description

Item

Description

5. EXCHANGE CHANNELS

In what channels (virtual, physical) are these actions happening, and what gets exchanged there? (Video)


Item

Description

Item

Description

6. INCOME SOURCES

Plug into the exchange streams! What income sources could these actions enable for you? (Video)


Item

Description

Item

Description

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3. Tasks

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Task II – OPEN UP 

To Do (10 minutes) 

Create a headline in your shared document „1. Open Up“

List all assets of your company from IP over infrastructure to people.

(Examples: A building, machines, Knowledge/IP, Building plans/design files, a network, knowledge about supply chains for example for where to source parts, a brand, a community, Digital assets like code an app maybe a website)

Then come back here.

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Task III – ACTIONS ENABLED

To Do (15 minutes) 

Think about your assets. Which ones could you open up? And what would/could be people do with them once they are open? Which roles do you enable? Which stakeholders do you involve?

Here are the examples for the Desk Manufacturer, WordPress, Arduino

Presentation (2 minutes)

Present your results. Focus on the most important – open source related – stakeholders/groups/roles when you are short on time.

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Task IV – YOUR BENEFITS

To Do (15 minutes) 

Look at some of your open source enabled stakeholders. What benefits could you gain from them becoming active.

Here is a little excursus on potential benefits to gain with open source ↓

(Look up also our examples below Desk Manufacturer, WordPress, Arduino)

When you think about this it might change what you have written down for earlier squares. Feel free to change.

Presentation (3 minutes)

Present your results. Focus on the most important – open source related – benefits.

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Task V – STAKEHOLDERS BENEFITS

To Do (15 minutes) 

Look at your stakeholders –  enabled actors. What is in it for them? Why would they do what you thought they could/might do? Write it down.

(Feel free to take inspiration also from the benefits you have and look at our examples below Desk Manufacturer, WordPress, Arduino)

Presentation (2 minutes)

Show us some your key ideas.

Have you made changes in your earlier fields?

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Task VI – EXCHANGE CHANNELS

To Do (15 minutes) 

What gets exchanged in the network (knowledge, hardware, services, money, trust)? And where does this happen? What channels do you need?

(Feel free to take inspiration from our examples below Desk Manufacturer, WordPress, Arduino)

Does this change anything in the earlier fields?

Presentation (2 minutes)

Show us some your key ideas.

Have you made changes in your earlier fields?

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TASK VII – Income sources

To Do (15 minutes) 

What are your income sources?

Basically every known income source could work in combination with open source products (except licensing out IP). Let’s have a look at the m the benefits table below ↓ – it also lists income sources. (And also look at our examples: Desk Manufacturer, WordPress, Arduino)

Add them to your document.

Does this change anything in the earlier fields?

Presentation (2 minutes)

Show us some your key ideas.

Have you made changes in your earlier fields?

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Jump down to 7 for next tasks ↓

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4. Examples Openness Discussion

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Example 1 Desk Manufacturer

BACK TO TASKS ↑


1. OPEN UP

What assets has your company? What elements has your product? Can you make it open? (Video)


Manufactured Desks*

The desks produced in the workshop

Building Plans**

The plans for the desks

Workshop***

The space and machines used to produce the desks

2. ACTIONS ENABLED

What stakeholders do you involve, what can they do with the opened assets and elements?  (Video)


Consumers*

People who buy the desk

Resellers*

People who sell the desk

Educators** 

For example People who teach carpentry or product designs use your plans for teaching

Designers & Innovators**

Use and Build on your Designs

Manufacturers** 

Produce and Sell copies of your design

DIY Hobbyists***

People come to your workshop to use your machines to make desks themselves

3. YOUR BENEFITS

How can you benefit from these stakeholders making such actions? (Video)


Sell Desks* 

You sell your desks

Open Innovation**  ***

Students, Designers and Innovators come up with interesting new solutions for and with your desk you can Leverage

Marketing/Attention**  ***

People work with your design and share what they did with it

Bigger Network**  *** 

You meet people in the workshop and also on the net that have an interests in your work and understanding of it

4. STAKEHOLDERS BENEFITS

How can these actions benefit the stakeholders themselves? (Video)


Buy Desks* 

Buy and consume desks

Sell Desks*

Sell desks

Create, Share & Sell Designs**

Sell desks

Education**  ***

learn from the designs and the open communication around it

Bigger Network**  ***

Meet likeminded People online and offline, Get visible

5. EXCHANGE CHANNELS

In what channels (virtual, physical) are these actions happening, and what gets exchanged there? (Video)


Shops*

Desks & Money → Online & Offline shops (Your Own or/and someone Elses)

Website**

Knowledge → Where is your Building plan shared?

Forums***

Knowledge & Attention → where do people meet, discuss & collaborate

Workshop Space***

Knowledge & Attention → where people meet and exchange

Trainings***

Knowledge & Attention → Where people meet and learn

6. INCOME SOURCES

Plug into the exchange streams! What income sources could these actions enable for you? (Video)


Sell Desks*

Sell Desks

Tickets For Trainings**

Sell tickets for trainings or other teaching

Usage Fees**

Usage fees for the tools in your workshop

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SUMMARY: While making the desk and carpentry open the business changes. It becomes a PLATFORM for different actors to do something. This creates value that potentially can be transformed into income streams.

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Example 2: WordPress

WordPress is an open source blogging & website software and „a billion dollar company“. It runs more than 30% of all websites today. And it was and is this successful BECAUSE it is Open Source, not DESPITE of it. Let’s have a look:

BACK TO TASKS ↑


1. OPEN UP

What assets has your company? What elements has your product? Can you make it open? (Video)


Software To Use 

You can download wordpress from several sources for free and install it without technical skill wherever you want

Software Source Code

The core software of wordpress is open source.

2. ACTIONS ENABLED

What stakeholders do you involve, what can they do with the opened assets and elements?  (Video)


Customers 

Can set up websites using wordpress on their own servers, Hosters or wordpress.com

Professional Hosters

Can offer easy wordpress hosting – One Click Installations – Making it easier for customers to have Website

Web-Designers

Can Use wordpress to make websites for their clients

Developers

Can Add plugins to the system to create better websites for customers. They might share code back as open source or not

Theme Designers 

Can add new themes to the wordpress ecosystem – Closed, open or half open – And sell them or their services around them

3. YOUR BENEFITS

How can you benefit from these stakeholders making such actions? (Video)


Open Innovation/Better Product

Many professions contribute Code or Opportunities to the ecosystem making the Core product more useful

Sell Hosting  

People want wordpress because it is strong but need a place to host their page. WordPress does this too.

Distributed Company Culture  

WordPress has more than 1000 employees located in more than 40 countries working all remote No Need for Headquaters

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→ More see „6. Income sources“

4. STAKEHOLDERS BENEFITS

How can these actions benefit the stakeholders themselves? (Video)


Get Websites

People get cheap and powerful websites that are highly adaptable to their needs

Sell Websites & Themes

Designers and Developers can make a living selling powerful websites, Themes or Plugins to customers

Learn 

I personally use wORDPRESS and I learned so much about it because whenever I had a problem I found answers on the web – even code to copy

Sell Hosting

I pay my hoster  because he offers me simple wordpress hosting

5. EXCHANGE CHANNELS

In what channels (virtual, physical) are these actions happening, and what gets exchanged there? (Video)


WordPress Website & Forums

WordPress hosts Forums and a website where you can download WP, Host It and Ask Questions or Share things like knowledge, Themes Or Plugins

Other Websites and Forums

Designers run their own websites that allow to download Themes, Plugins, Have Discussion or Share documentation and Tutorials About WordPress. YouTube is full of wordpress tutorials

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→ Basically WordPress is all over the web

6. INCOME SOURCES

Plug into the exchange streams! What income sources could these actions enable for you? (Video)


Income

How does WordPress makes Money → Article Listing income sources (Backup: Mirror.PDF)

TAKE AWAYS

I. As you might have understood by now: The core of Open Source Companies often is that they enable others to do business – and that some those businesses have an incentive to contribute something open back to the ecosystem! It is not a PROBLEM, that others use your work it is what MAKES IT WORK or MAKES IT BETTER.

II. WordPress is a PLATFORM for many different stakeholders. And the Openness makes it stronger for everyone – creating synergies between almost all actors on the platform.

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Example 3: Arduino

Arduino is probably still the largest open hardware platform in the world. There is so much to say about it and why it works BECAUSE it is Open Source and not DESPITE of it. I will just name some of the elements.

BACK TO TASKS ↑


1. OPEN UP

What assets has your company? What elements has your product? Can you make it open? (Video)


Hardware To Buy

Buy Arduino from Ebay, Amazon and many other stores.

Hardware (Design Files)

The Hardware is Openly documented where that was possible.

Hardware (Design itself)

The Hardware is designed to make it easy to access it and play with it. For example it has a USB-Port. Good Open Source Products Make it very easy to work with them.

Software 

The software to talk to the arduino is Open Source

Arduino Projects  

There are plenty of Arduino Guides and Arduino projects you can copy And build upon

2. ACTIONS ENABLED

What stakeholders do you involve, what can they do with the opened assets and elements?  (Video)


Hobbyists, Artists, Designers

Tinker with the arduino

Companies & StartUps

Build prototypes with the arduino Or hack their factories, Farms and so on.

Resellers

You can get your Arduino from many different Sources – Amazon, Ebay, Local Hardware Stores, Smaller Online shops and so on

Manufacturers

There are many clones of the arduino out there. They sell direct copies or improved Versions of the Arduino

Teachers

People use arduino in schools or in workshops for all kinds of things

Ad-on Manufacturers 

There are a lot of companies selling things to combine with your arduino – for example shields

3. YOUR BENEFITS

How can you benefit from these stakeholders making such actions? (Video)


Open Innovation 

Countless stories of Knowledge Creation and sharing. Remember the LilyPad Story I told above ↑ – or Think about the shields I just mentioned. All of these Things make Arduino a better stronger more useful Product

Attention & Free Marketing

There is a lot Happening, so many people know about the arduino and talk about it everywhere. I have never seen an arduino ad

Sell Arduinos

Or course Arduino sells arduinos

4. STAKEHOLDERS BENEFITS

How can these actions benefit the stakeholders themselves? (Video)


Sell Arduinos

Resellers Can Sell Arduinos

Sell Services Or Compatible Products

There are many ways to leverage the Arduino and its open vibrant ecosystem for other companies – Consultancies, Professional Prototypers, Start Ups and more

Solve Problems Quicker 

Designers, FArmers, Hackers … they all can use the arduino to solve their problems and build something cool cheaply.

Tech & Learn

Information is there making teaching and learning hardware design much easier.

Collaborate

Plug Into an ecosystem of developers that like to collaborate and share and become a part of it. It is also a Social Group sometimes. Online and Offline events happen.

5. EXCHANGE CHANNELS

In what channels (virtual, physical) are these actions happening, and what gets exchanged there? (Video)


Shops 

You can get Arduinos almost everywhere – online and offline.

Arduino Forum

A lot of Knowledge about Arduino is shared and discussed on the arduino Forums – Several Millions of Posts

The Web

But the Knowledge exchange is not limited to the arduino forums. You can find code, instructions and Tutorials everywhere on countless websites and platforms. A Search engine  is your portal…

Books

There are a lot of books teaching to use Arduino. Most of them not endorsed by arduino.

Workshops, Hackathons, Events +

You can learn about ARduino in many workshops and hackathons or similar events. Some hosted by Arduino itself – the majority is just distributed everywhere and set up by other actors

6. INCOME SOURCES

Plug into the exchange streams! What income sources could these actions enable for you? (Video)


Sell Arduinos

People tend to buy the original – at least at the beginning

Sell Trainings

education is something we pay for

Sell Consulting

Prototype for customers using the Arduino and its ecosystem

Participate In State Funded Research

Arduino is part of several research projects – with its knowledge and community it is a great partner

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5 Why Open Source? Benefits

I think you already talked in the basics part a bit about the advantages of  Open Source. I just want to remind you and frame it one more time.

BACK TO TASKS ↑

Source of graphic is the „Business Model Chapter“ of the Book „Building Open Source Hardware“. The entire chapter explaining everything about it is located → here. 

Links

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7. Next Tasks

Ok. Here is your homework: Meet in your little group before our next gathering (with me) in 2 weeks and do this:

   The discussion we had in our group probably brought up new things and your idea and openness discussion arent’t finished or need to be redone. Save the current version as version number 1 and create a new and cleaner version number 2 incorporating the ideas and feedback that came up during the plenum. If your project is to big focus on one part of it where you want to explore openness deeper. Make a fine polished version to present here net time (write up what worked).

OK. See you in two weeks.*

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SESSION 2

▷ This is how session 2 looked in the December 2020 iteration of the course. This time (April 2021) it’ll be a bit different. 

Hello, welcome back. I hope you are all very well. Looking forward to this session. Let’s start right away.

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1. Homework Presentation

You had some homework. Create a new or full version of the Openness Discussion for your Tool. Let’s see what you did.

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2. Input

Let’s have some more Input on Open Source Hardware.

2.1 Lars

Why Openness? Because of the Internet

Openness is something we can still count as new! It harness possibilities of the web. Imagine a world where you want to share the building plans of a 2020 car with the whole world? A truck full of books?

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GROUP WORK: We have three questions below. You’ll come together in a small group and discuss them for 5 minutes. Start with the first subquestion and then move on to the following. Write down your answer so you can post it in the group chat after returning to the main room. 

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QUESTION 1: Wikipedia

The Wikipedia is around since 2001 and an example of what is possible if you use the internet and Openness.

  • What do you know about the Wikipedia? How is it made?
  • You are probably too young to remember a world without the Wikipedia. But I can tell you, when it was new, it was a big surprise. The majority of people in the world would not have believed that this is possible. What do you know – how did encyclopedias work before the Wikipedia?
  • Do you know you can fork the Wikipedia? The code it runs on (Media Wiki) & the content (the Articles). And there were many attempts. What do you think why the Wikipedia is still on top of the game? (What is a fork?)
Img by Ottilie, CC-BY-SA

(Brand, Infrastructure, Community)

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QUESTION 2: Still new & unexplored. Hard to crack at least.

But still. Openness is today on the surface not as distributed as enthusiasts thought 10 and 15 years ago. One of the reason is that it poses a lot of questions you can’t solve easily with the knowledge and narratives that are dominant in a closed source world.

Let’s see what you think. You are the advocate for Open Source now. And I ask you questions:

? Open Source means often not just to publish the solution. But the tools to create the solution. When I publish all my plans as Open Source everyone can take it, copy it and make a business out of it and push me out of the market. Isn’t it stupid to do this then ?

? Apple is the (second) most valuable company in the world. Imagine their legal department would make a mistake and make all design files and all patents for apples products open. What could happen? Would Apple die? Would it change? If so, in what way? How could the company adapt to this situation? What negative things could happen to apple? What positive things ?

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QUESTION 3: Hardware open, resilient & sustainable

Open Source Software is wildly successful. The wikipedia as well. But hardware is behind. What do you think why? What are the key differences of hardware in comparison to software? And how to overcome them in an Open Source project?

Mark to read:

Find, buy, pay, transport, store components.

Assembling components with time, tools, space, energy and skills.

Licensing: The licensing situation around hardware is fundamentally different from that around software. The solutions of open source software are not transferable. 

Documentation: The documentation of hardware is more complex and extensive and time-intensive – it is different.

Skills to work with hardware are often more expensive to learn. A practical introduction to welding takes more resources than a practical introduction to C++. This might reduce the potential group of co-developers in size. 

Software testing is easier and cheaper than hardware testing. 

Standards: Computers work the same way all over the world. For hardware we have different grown engineering schools, different measurement systems (imperial vs. metric system), different local suppliers and producers for parts and materials and so on. This makes it difficult to reconstruct what was built on one side of the globe on the other side. 

This is how software works, but not hardware. 

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How to tackle this? The answer is, with the right product design. Let’s see what the Open Hardware definition has to say about hardware design:

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Interestingly if you follow these design principles you are also very likely to create a sustainable circular product! As simple design and the use of open standards enables repair, reuse, refurbishment and even recycling.
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surviving climate change?
 Which city is smarter? The „smart city“ with street lights that are technically sophisticated and networked? Or the city with open documented, accessible, easy to understand street lights? When a storm hits the city infrastructure – which lamps are easier to repair locally? When the coastline moves – which lamps are easier to dismantle, take away and put up in another region? Openness helps us to adapt!

It might be a matter of survival! And that is why it is so crucial that you spend time to learn and understand it. Although it is not that easy.

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2.2 Sigrid

On „Open Everything“

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3. Group work

Ok. With the feedback on your homework in this new Input in mind we want to you to get together and create one more updated version of your worksheet and Openness Discussion.

Pls. also note down under No 5 what are your next steps. You’ll have the chance in this course to actually build parts or dive deeper into the building of the technology you envision. Jishnu might have to share a bit on what technology we might be able to give you guidance for.

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4. Presentation

Ok. Let’s see what you got. And figure out what could happen next in the course.

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OK. Thanks for playin‘ everyone 🙂 

And all the best