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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.

Fabfuse 2013 on Grassroots Knowledge Sharing

- July 11, 2013 in Event, Featured

Last summer over 50 people from across the globe gathered at the FabLab Amersfoort in the Netherlands for the first Grassroots FabLab conference, called FABFUSE.
They discussed and researched ways for communities to set up an organize local workplaces like FabLabs, without large financial resources or governmental backing. Attendees came from Fablabs, Hackerspaces, Transition towns and many other communities and backgrounds.

This summer, 19th till 21st of July, the follow up of this conference takes place: FABFUSE 2013. Its main focus is on ‘Grassroots Knowledge Sharing.’ FABFUSE acknowledges that often little of the valuable knowledge available in local labs and workspaces is being shared or made accessible. The 2013 conference aims to showcase, discuss and develop ways for these local hubs to connect with others and share their information.


As the global ecosystem of fab labs, hackerspaces, public laboratories and other community driven workshops grows, so does the need for effective exchange of knowledge between these peer knowledge hubs. Can we cook up a grassroots implementation of peer reviewed knowledge? Or should we? Are existing platforms (journals, conferences) open to p2p communities? What great libre (online) tools are out there? Can we help the developers of potentially great tools in making the next step?
In other words: How can grassroots communities exchange knowledge?

The conference will be loosely organized in 3 topic streams:
1. Open toolchains for creation, collaboration & communication: which open tools serve the grassroots community, which tools can we help become better, which tools do we miss altogether?
2. knowledge sharing: how can we free the knowledge present in many p2p hubs?
3. community building: how do distributed communities develop, live and thrive?

The conference itself is also organized as a grassroots event, where each visitor is also co-organizer or a participant in lectures, workshops and demonstrations. More info at

Make Things Do Stuff to Mobilise 100,000 Young Makers Across UK

- June 6, 2013 in Event, Featured, Projects


Creative Web Literacy is an increasingly important issue. I’ve written about it. Many others have written about it. But what are we all doing about it?

One of the campaigns I’m proud to be involved with here in London is Make Things Do Stuff, a UK-wide network of like-minded organisations including Freeformers, Technology Will Save Us, Mozilla, NESTA and the Nominet Trust who are committed to mobilize the next generation to create the many technologies that surround us, not just consume them.


The goal? To get 100,000 young people learning new digital skills and feeling like makers by the end of the summer. For the well-publicized launch event last week, a buzzing patchwork of young people in sneakers, old people in suits and geeks with machines gathered at the Roundhouse in Camden, and it seemed as if everyone from the excellent National Geographic Kids magazine to WIRED to UK Chancellor George Osborne was there to check it all out.

While the suits (as the kids fondly called them throughout the day) headed upstairs to the press room, EPIK‘s Dorine Flies and I took over some tables to share the open source Webmaker toolset between some singing kiwi fruits and DIY synth. As we set up Popcorn Maker, I yelled out the audacious claim that we’d help the 30 kids gathered to make their own music videos in under 10 minutes. I sat back, expecting no one to join us.

make things do stuff

Surprisingly, the table was full within minutes. The kids were ridiculously good at building creative projects and sharing their skills, some getting so stuck in to the hacking and remixing process that they lost all perception of the outside world, even ignoring the increasingly shrill synth frequencies as other kids experimented with the Technology Will Save Us crew next door.

“And what brought you here today?” Osborne asked a quiet bespeckeled teenager wearing a red soccer jersey. The reply was ponderous. “I don’t really know,” he finally answered, intent on the screen as it played a preview of his newly remixed video. “I guess I was just bored, and wanted to make something cool.”

In the end, that’s really what this sort of initiative is all about.

In the UK and want to be a part of the movement? Say hi on the Make Things Do Stuff website and Twitter – now’s a great time to get involved.

Institute of Making Announces London Opening — But How Open?

- January 25, 2013 in Design Principles, Event, Featured

Makers at the Aalto FABLab in Helsinki. Photo thanks to Henrico.

A bit of good news for UK-based designers and hardware enthusiasts interested in making, building and experimenting — the Institute of Making is finally holding its Grand Public Opening on Saturday 16 March from 1pm onwards in London.

As someone who has been in London a few years, I’ve often wished there was a stronger makerspace/FABlab community in this city (London Hackspace and the Goodlife Centre aside). I’m excited about the potentiality of a centre that looks to combine academic and community energies to encourage participants to “engage in the craft, design, technology, art and engineering of making through public events and member access”. My needs are modest — I’d like a community space where I can set up some of my Arduinos, work with laser cutters and meet other designers interested in building new things using interesting materials. But will this be the place?

We’ve heard whisperings about the Institute of Making since 2005 (when its Materials Library got started for the use of the UCL Engineering Faculty), but it wasn’t until this year that the Institute decided to host a makerspace as well and position itself as a public-facing centre, a “multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities.”

As the makerspace at the Institute of Making opens its doors, we are very interested in how “open” this space will be, especially given its location in the centre of a university campus.

We’ll be especially interested to find out whether the Institute’s Make Space will adopt open principles regarding designs and fabrications, especially with a Flickr account that applies an “all rights reserved” license to its photos. We hope this will not be the case for other products coming out of the Institute. We also wonder whether it be a requirement that Make Space members are also students or faculty at UCL. Will makers and hackers from across interdisciplinary (and professional) paradigms be as fully welcome as the website has proclaimed?

We have already seen many positive examples of this correlation working well in other nations (many of these are spaces that collaborators of our Open Design group are involved with, such as Finland’s first FABlab at Aalto University Media Factory, which from its onset has prioritised making its equipment open to “everyone, not just students” and using Open Design standards). How will this sort of collaborative effort work in the London environment?

Further details about the opening and future events of the Institute of Making can be found on its mailing list. If you’re in London, we’ll see you there!

This is an OPEN DESIGN post. To get involved with our international working group or to write a guest blog post for us, say hello on our discussion list.

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 →

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