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Open Design Definition workshop at OKFestival 2014 in Berlin

- August 5, 2014 in Definition, Event, Featured

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

At the recent OKFestival in Berlin, where over 1,000 open-everything enthusiasts and experts gathered for 3 days in the charming Kulturbrauerei, a workshop was held by the Open Design & Hardware Working Group to expand the Open Design Definition that had been booted in the months leading up to the festival. The idea with the workshop was to take a major step towards finalizing a first version for publication (v1.0) and also involve more people in the process.

In the rather compact 1-hour session we were joined by approximately 25 people, who all contributed valuable inputs throughout the process lead by Peter Troxler with support from Sanna Martilla and Christian Villum (Massimo Menichinelli, who initiated the idea to have a workshop at OKFestival unfortunately could not make it).

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

First step was to develop an Open Definition checklist inspired by the Open Source Hardware Association’s Quick Reference Guide. Participants went into small groups to brainstorm important criteria for the checklist and these criteria (on post-it notes) were then placed on a big wall and organized into clusters.

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

Open Design Definition Workshop @ OKFestival 2014 [Part 1] from Christian Villum on Vimeo.

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

The result of this was compared with what was already in the draft of the Open Design Definition and afterwards voted on by placing dots in a yes/no column, followed by a short reflection on the reasoning.

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

Photo by autofunk78, CC-BY-SA

Lastly, participants divided into three groups to discuss items to include as “must” criteria and items to include as “may” criteria — again inspired by OHSWA work.

Open Design Definition Workshop @ OKFestival 2014 [Part 2] from Christian Villum on Vimeo.

Open Design Definition Workshop @ OKFestival 2014 [Part 3] from Christian Villum on Vimeo.

The notes from each of these phases in the workshop can be seen in this etherpad [Note: These will be migrated to the OKFestival wiki soon]. They will now be transformed into tasks and added to the Open Design Definition github repo and subsequently the work to amend them will commence.

Further discussion is encouraged! Did we leave out something important? Is there something in the notes that you want to comment on? Feel free to get in touch on the working group discussion list. Also, if you would like to see more photo, check out this gallery.


It’s Hardware Freedom Day on Saturday – join the fun!

- March 13, 2014 in Event, Featured


On Saturday, March 15 2014, it is Hardware Freedom Day – a yearly celebration of Open Hardware!

Every year since 2004 hundreds of teams have been celebrating Software Freedom Day, often showcasing Open Hardware in the process. At the Digital Freedom Foundation (formerly known as SFI) in 2012 they thought it was about time to have a special day just for Open Hardware. So for its second year please get involved to help celebrate open hardware as part of this global event.

What is open hardware?

SparkFun Electronics has created a very nice explanatory video for the Open Source Hardware Association which you can view here:

How can you contribute?

Support Hardware Freedom Day. You or your organization believes hardware should be hackable and/or is deeply involved in Open Hardware. You believe that Hardware Freedom Day needs traction and are willing to help us with the promotional efforts by putting one of our web banners and countdown on your website.

Organize Hardware Freedom Day. You love to hack all the gadgets you have a chance to put your hand on and/or are a member of a hackerspace? The time has come to join all the other hackerspaces in the world and celebrate Hardware Freedom Day. We have drafted a guide to get you started, simply register your event and don’t hesitate to join our mailing list and exchange ideas with others.

Attend Hardware Freedom Day. You’ve heard about Open Hardware and would love to discover more, be able to ask questions and see some live action? You already have some hackable stuff and would like to meet with like-minded people in your neighbourhood? Then check out the events map and find a location in your area celebrating Hardware Freedom Day. If you cannot find one in your neighborhood, then join virtually on IRC.

Learn more

Read more about Hardware Freedom Day and the movement on the website – and join the mailing list. Also let us know what you’ll be doing on Hardware Freedom Day – in the comments below or on the Open Design & Hardware discussion list.

Introducing our project for Burning Man 2014: The Tree of Knowledge

- March 7, 2014 in Featured, Projects


Members of the Open Design & Hardware Working Group have been working these last few months on putting together a project proposal for the magnificent Burning Man festival which takes place every year in August in the desolate Black Rock Desert in Nevada, United States. The result is a proposal to build the Tree of Knowledge.

The Tree of Knowledge project is based on a global, cross-team collaboration between artists, makers, academics and builders at Harvard University, Creative Commons, the Open Design + Hardware Network at the Open Knowledge Foundation and the Open Tech Collaborative. Together, we are the Tribe. We come from different backgrounds, live all across the world – from Copenhagen to Vancouver – we each have different passions and opinions, yet we all agree on a common ground: Knowledge is magic – and open knowledge is the backbone of the Tree of Knowledge.

On the Playa of the Black Rock Desert…

Just off the edge of the Playa, when the sun sets and the sky grows dark, a magical path appears: twin lines of glowing markers winding into the distance. Curious travellers who reach the end discover an oasis.  And in the middle of the oasis, a magical tree: from its branches hang wondrous glowing fruit, large and small ornaments filled with bioluminescent fluid. This is the Tree of Knowledge.

The tree stands in the middle of this mystical oasis, fueling a self-perpetuating cycle of curiosity, learning and sharing. Chill– almost ambient– music plays; this is a peaceful oasis. The site is both a destination,  a place where travelers come in their quest for meditation and wonder; and also a source, a place from which knowledge spreads, illuminating the desert of Black Rock City. From the moment the sun sets, travelers will be drawn to the Tree of Knowledge by its mystical glow on the distant horizon. As they get closer, they can marvel at the wonder of its bioluminescent fruit. It is a peaceful oasis, far from the chaotic setting of the Silk Road.


The Tribe of Light

Once arrived, travellers will have their first encounter with a strange tribe, natives of the oasis, caretakers of the tree, their faces and bodies elaborately painted with colorful glow-in-the-dark paints. The Tribe of Light. Curious travelers will ask, “What is all this?” And to them we will say it is the Tree of Knowledge. We will educate through a variety of  rites of passage and tell them about the magic of bioluminescence, the value of shared knowledge, and other universal truths. We will encourage them to take some of the fruit — some of the light– away with them on the rest of their journey, to illuminate their path and share the open knowledge it symbolizes with their friends.


Building the tree and growing the organisms

The Tree itself — the trunk and branches– is a dead tree, about 8 meters (~26 feet) high, transported to the site for this project.  Only upon close inspection can a visitor tell that it was originally cut into sections, and subsequently reassembled on site. Once the tree stands strong, the fruits are put on the branches from top to bottom – all transparent containers of bioluminescent micro organisms, slurping in the abundant energy from the sun – waiting for dusk to arrive and their glow to initiate.


The lower-hanging fruit, which the curious travelers will be encouraged to pick, are transparent spheres filled with bioluminescent organisms in a saltwater solution.  These are attached to the tree by leather strings; when untied from the tree, these enable the fruit to be worn as necklaces and bracelets– magic amulets to take home. In this this way, the project illustrates– manifests– the ways in which knowledge spreads. The overall effect is of an otherworldly magic; the goal is to induce a sense of wonder.

Joining the Tribe and spreading the Knowledge

Visitors willing to go through a short training course (about 30 minutes) will be given the opportunity to be turned into ‘evangelists’, apprentice wizards: Upon completion of this training, in a special ritual, we will apply luminescent paint to their body so that they will be easily recognizable as part of the Tribe. These luminous evangelists will then be sent out of the Oasis and back to the chaos beyond, with a kit (a set of empty amulets and a flask of bioluminescent organism) and a mission: they will be charged with enlightening fellow travelers, sharing light and knowledge.

How to learn more – and get involved

To learn more about the Tree of Knowledge project, the Tribe of Light and everything else – visit the project site. We’ll be putting up photos and videos of the work as we move forward. Also, make sure to follow OD&H Working Group on Twitter for brief shoot-from-the-hip updates.

You can also join the project! Get in touch on to become part of the building team or contribute otherwise. Also, we plan to run a Kickstarter campaign and would love for anyone with experience in that field (or willingness to learn) to get in touch to lend a hand. The project is open, so feel free to get on board.

Join the Open Design + Hardware group: