[LINK] Open Source PC Design

Richard Chirgwin rchirgwin at ozemail.com.au
Sun Jun 1 16:21:10 AEST 2008

Craig Sanders wrote:
> On Sat, May 31, 2008 at 04:05:12PM +1000, Richard Chirgwin wrote:
>> So what exactly does "open source houses" mean?
> open source is about source code, and the freedom to use, modify, and
> redistribute it at will.  and the sharing and collaboration that goes
> along with that.
I'm not arguing about any of that.
> for software, the source code and the product are pretty much the same
> thing (with optional translation by a compiler to produce binary
> executables, depending on the programming language)
> same for other things that are "software" even though we don't
> usually think of them that way - movies, music, books and so on. the
> "source code" to a song is the sheet music, the "compiler" is the
> band/musician(s), and the "binary executable" is the CD or mp3 file.
> (these can be and are produced in "open source" ways as well as
> proprietary ways. in fact, from a historical perspective the current
> proprietary way is the exception, not the norm)
> for physical objects, like houses or cars or solar cells, the "source
> code" is the design, the plans, the blue-prints. all the documentation
> and notes and thinking needed for someone to actually build something.
> like music etc, this design can be and is done in an open source,
> collaborative manner 
Craig, what I'm saying is that for houses, the maths, the specifications 
(eg "how much load will a 100mm x 100mm hardwood beam support if it's 
supported by bearers at 450 mm spacing?) - the source code, if you will 
- are public documents. The engineering of buildings (especially for 
larger projects) is "open source" to that extent. Eg:
Open source software uses copyright to protect attribution; so does 
civil engineering.
In open source software, the source code is a public document. In civil 
engineering, the engineering design is a public document (I guess the 
architectural drawings as well, but architects have a different attitude 
to copyright).
In open source software, successful designs are available for use in 
other products. The same holds true for civil engineering.

I'm not asking "in what ways is housing like software design". I'm 
asking (for I suppose about the third time):
- in what way would "open source" as borrowed from software change housing?
- in what way would "open source" as borrowed from software *benefit* 

Moreover, most of what is sold in housing is not a proprietary black 
box, but a set of services in which specialised experts put the open 
information to use.

Just saying "let's have open source X" without understanding the target 
discipline is sloganeering without substance...

Richard Chirgwin
> - where part of the goal is to benefit everyone
> rather than just one person or one company.
> translation ("compilation") to the physical world is the thing that
> takes resources (money, materials, tools, infrastructure, etc).
> BTW, there are open source designs for basic fabricator machines that
> exist now...they've even got to the point where they can create all the
> parts needed to make another copy of themselves....and the designs for
> them ARE undergoing the same process of continual evolutionary
> improvement as open source computer software.    and this is with
> current technology, not nanotech science fiction.
> For example, see http://www.fabathome.org/
> this is a particularly important issue at the moment, with all sorts of
> basic and obvious ideas being locked up by individuals and corporations
> with patents and copyrights....and with the scope of such locks being
> extended way beyond the original intention of the legislation to enable
> such short-term monopolies.
> building up a massive library of open-source "prior art" is one of the
> best defenses against this on-going land-grab style theft from the
> intellectual commons.
> craig

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