Free Knowledge: Open Manufacturing

Aaron Fulkerson

That’s free like speech, not like beer. I received a link to this article in Minnesota Technology magazine today. It has a short piece about wikis and MindTouch. I wonder where my free knowledge shirt went. I love that shirt! This is what my focus has always been. Knowledge should be open and free (within reason). Obviously I’m not talking about publishing the recipe to saren gas, but I am talking about, among other things, opening up how we manufacture and engineer. Imagine if all our engineering were open and accessible to anyone who had the desire to review and contribute. I’m talking about chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, software, aeronautical, whatever engineering. People could review, contribute, and assist in improving. What if, for example, an electric car’s design, manufacturing, parts purchasing, etc was completely open? Think about how quickly this could improve. Surely there is more overhead in manufacturing than in software, but the process would certainly be improved were it open. Sticking with the electric car idea, perhaps all the laid off auto-workers could even start their own boutique car company. It’s not impossible or unrealistic. The costs of goods sold are significantly lower than what they used to be in car manufacturing. What’s the business model? The same that exist for open source software. Let’s say for the electric car it could support and services.

: I should have known. I mentioned this to Brian, the electric car example that is, and sure enough there is a post at MAKEzine about an open source car, which is really just a bunch of useful links on the topic. I would really like to explore this further. Especially since it would actually be practical for me now that I’m moving somewhere other than Minnesota, which simply wouldn’t be conducive to an electric car with my commute.