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The First Draft of the Open Design Definition

- March 8, 2013 in Definition, Featured

After a lot of discussion and examinations of existing Open definitions, I’ve finally published the first draft of the Open Design Definition. There is very little in it at the moment, but a simple structure of the document that should work for discussing the definition further. You can always participate in its development by:

  1. subscribing to our mailing list
  2. creating an user in GitHub with the free open source plan and sending to the mailing list your username (so that we can add you to the group on GitHub)
  3. just leaving a comment on this post (I will then bring your ideas to the main discussion)

If you are not familiar with Git and GitHub don’t worry, just send e-mails with your ideas to the mailing list and I will take care of the work on GitHub.
Here’s the first draft then:

The Open Design Definition v. 0.1


This document is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)


This document is the result of the collaborative discussion that has been taking place in the Open Design Working Group of the Open Knowledge Foundation. Please join the conversation about the definition on the Open Design Definition repository and on the Open Design Working Group mailing list (past archives are available here)

This document represents a shared agreement about the definition of Open Design, and should not be understood as a license for Design content. The purpose of this document is to foster discussion, collaboration and community building around the concept and the practice of Open Design.

Open Source and Open Content regarding Open Design

Here we should develop our understanding of Open Source / Open Content of Open Design. Should be short and clarify the framework.

If we feel that we need to clarify something about Freedom vs. Openness it should be done here

Branches of Open Design

Here we should discuss all the kinds of Design (Product Design, Graphic Design) that can be Open Design and what is the source code for them and the binary code

The Open Data of Open Design

Here we should discuss the issue of all the knowledge and related data for Open Design projects. For example: supply chain, material processes, how to repair / reproduce / manufacture a project, the carbon footprint of the manufacturing and distribution processes and so on

Hacking Open Design: Redesign

Here we should clarify wether redesigning closed design projects can make them open

The process of Open Design

Here we should discuss if there’s anything more that we can add about the processes around the development of Open Design projects

 Open Design and necessary software

Here we should discuss the relationship between Open Design and the necessary software for opening / designing / making it real

Open Design and Intellectual Property

Here we should clarify the relationships between different branches and entities for Design projects and the intellectual property laws developed for them. It should not be a license but should be a starting point for clarifying any issue with licenses or patenting

We look forward to continuing the discussions!

Featured image thanks to ‘d2s’ on Flickr here.

Working on the Open Design Definition

- February 26, 2013 in Definition, Featured

After few months of pause, it is finally time to give an update about the development of the Open Design Definition, a project I’ve started while working at Aalto Media Factory (and co-organizing the Open Knowledge Festival) together with many others from this group.

01. The Open Design Definition workshop at Open Knowledge Festival

During the Open Knowledge Festival I also found the time for a workshop about the Open Design Definition, and it worked really well: the room was full and we started opening many issues on the GitHub repository of the definition. The discussion has improved a lot after that moment. Here on Slideshare you can find my presentation that resumes the concept and the work behind the Open Design Definition.

02. Further developing the discussion on the definition

I will now try to resume the main questions that have surfaced in the mailing list, during the workshop and on GitHub. These are the main questions that we have to answer in order to further proceed with the collaborative development of the Open Design Definition.

  • Are we focusing only on Product Design (i.e. something physical, and that may be 3D printed) or are we talking about any kind of design? Personally I’m trying to having a discussion on all the fields of design, since there are already many different cases of Open Source in Design in many fields (see the presentation above), but of course this means that we have to describe a generic enough definition of Design, or a definition that makes references to the different Design fields.
  • Shall we start from what Intellectual Property (IP) laws consider Design, or from what designers consider Design? This choice would lead to two very different definitions, so we have to decide this together: starting from the IP laws viewpoint, it will be easier to define licenses and IP strategies; starting from designers’ viewpoint will make the definition easier to be understood by the Design community at large
  • And, related to this, shall we leave the discussion about licenses out, or shall we include something in the definition?
  • What about the “source files” of a design project? Shall we consider, in the definition, to ask about publishing also the source files (i.e. vector drawing and not only the exported picture, CAD files and not only the rendering pictures)
  • Shall we clarify and distinguish about the definition being about Openness and/or Freedom? Or shall we include both in the definition?
  • Shall start preparing a draft of a definition, in order to start the discussion to be more focused? From which existing definition should we start?

03. Working in the Open Design Working Group

I then mined the interaction on GitHub (with these open source scripts), in order to see how the discussion and work on the GitHub repository is going on. Here you can find the network of the interactions: as you can see, most of the work has been done by me, only two people (in green) have committed, and many users are not even participating in the issues publishing or commenting. We should find a way to get them more involved on the GitHub repository.

Read the rest of this entry →

Open Design Definition at FAB*, Future Everything (Manchester)

- June 25, 2012 in Definition, Featured

Open Design Working Group at Future Everything

This post is a slightly edited version of a message sent to our discusssion list here, which is why it addresses the participants of this working group! Interested in getting involved? Join us!

A quick recap of the last workhsop for the Open Design definition we did at Fab* @ Future Everything, Manchester (UK).
We had a great discussion in a very nice place, Victoria Baths, but unfortunately the internet connection wasn’t working, so we could not start to work on the repository with the participants. The discussion was very good and I’ve changed a bit the presentation to include few more replies to some questions raised during the workshop. You can find the presentation on Slideshare here.

One issue emerged from the discussion: we should clarify further that we are working on a definition now, not on a license!
A definition is not a legal tool like a license, it is a shared document that tries to define what is Open Design, hopefully including all the different possible types of Open Design, all the perspectives, the critical point, and what can be achieved with it and how it can be improved and further promoted and adopted. It is, basically, the result of a collaborative discussion, and it is a community standard, not a legal standard like a license.

About GitHub:the discussion has started on our repository there, and you can already see some issues opened (and closed):

Don’t forget to send an e-mail to the discussion list of this working group writing your username to get started, so that we can add you to the organization group on GitHub and we can work together on the repository!
As you can see, at the moment there are already 20 members:

About Git, here are few more resources about using it:

and more news about how the use of GitHub is spreading:

Open Design Definition: We Are Ready to Start!

- May 16, 2012 in Definition, Featured

image thanks to Peter Troxler

We’ve been busy preparing the tools and the documentation for starting the discussion about the Open Design definition, but now we are ready to start!

After checking the different technical solutions for handling a distributed discussion about the Open Design definition, the best option turned out to be using Git as a distributed version control system and Github as the online platform. Github is really popular for developing open source applications, and the platform is really well developed for collective discussion and easiness of use.

You can read this article about Github on Wired, which was then published as a Github repository as well. Furthermore, this will also mean having a real open source and collaborative process and experience! If you don’t know Git and Github already, don’t worry, we will provide you with information and help, and the process will start with easy tasks. We also chose Github for its semplicity!

We have created then an organization account in Github for our group:

And there we’ve just launched the repository for developing collaboratively the Open Design Definition with all the information necessary to start the process:

What can you do next?

  1. Create your own basic / free Github user.
  2. Send your username to the mailing list so that we can add you to the group and the repository (only the username, no passwords!!).
  3. Start reading the documentation about the whole process that’s in the repository.
  4. Start reading the existing Open definitions already in the repository, and for any comments open an issue ticket on Github.
  5. If you need help, just send an e-mail to the mailing list.

This week we are going to have an Open Design Definition workshop at Fab* in Manchester, the first meeting of the European FabLabs and part of the Future Everything Festival! If you cannot attend it, don’t worry: the most important part of the process is the online discussion. The local workshops are very useful for speeding up the process and help people jump in the Github platform, but we want to have as many participants as possible with the online discussion!

Image taken from an article about fellow Open Design practitioner Peter Troxler.

The First Open Design Meetup (Helsinki, Finland)

- March 16, 2012 in Event, Featured


During the first Open Knowledge Foundation meetup in Helsinki (read the report by fellow Open Design co-founder Kat Braybrooke here), some of us proposed to focus on Open Design, since it’s an emerging field that is booming, yet still needs a lot more reflection and discussion to be successful for designers across different paradigms.

We proposed to have another meetup in order to build the local presence of the Open Knowledge Foundation (the ultimate goal is to build the local chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation in Finland) and to focus it this time only on Open Design. This second meetup took place in at Aalto Media Factory in Helsinki on January 28th 2012 in the morning, while in the afternoon we hosted a meetup of Alternative World Design Capital 2012 (for a report of that meetup, you can read this review). Read the rest of this entry →