Makers: Default to Open

Friday, Nov 20th
5:20pm to 6:30pm
Palm 1

At a glance, the maker movement seems open by nature, full of contributors sharing their creations and building better and better things based on the efforts of those who built before them. But the reality is quite different. Many (if not most) makers are unfamiliar with open source software even as users, much less with how to implement its principles within their projects. The apparent crossover is indeed a natural fit, though, and there is much benefit to be had from building these communities around tangible projects on open source principles.

Of course, there are also different sets of challenges from those faced by software communities. New sets of legal issues arise for open hardware projects. Communities unfamiliar with the evolution of open source projects panic when their goods are cloned. There are also project management and build issues larger than those faced by software projects that only have to handle bits and bytes and not pieces and parts.

However, we can see a lot of hope and gain direction from those who have been successful, from groups like the Open Prosthetics Project to the wildly successful Arduino and Raspberry Pi ecosystems. These types of communities set the example for the success of open source in maker communities, and as a result, the success of maker communities' projects for the greater good.