Free Open Knowledge of Production Model

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= sharing the knowledge of production


Chris Ahlert:

"The knowledge of production is indeed sharable and, in a sense, very similar to software. That is the clue for expanding the FOSS model to other economic areas.In the traditional capitalist model, the knowledge of production is regarded in the same way as software in the proprietary model: the R&D outcome and knowledge of production in general are held secret, privately owned, and, in the specific case of material production, often protected against competitors through patents. So, knowledge of production are mostly developed and owned privately, and their costs are endowed in the price of material goods, and may lead to consumers' locking, monopoly, etc. Conversely, knowledge of production could regarded in the same way as free software: any knowledge of production could be developed cooperatively and owned collectively. We may call it as the Free Open Knowledge of Production (FOKP) model, and think of an specific FOKP for each area of production, from TVs and cars, to furniture and houses. To clarify this idea, we now develop a complete parallel with the FOSS model to show how the FOKP model would work, hypothetically. In the FOKP model, the knowledge of production of any economic areas is developed in a voluntary FOKP community of developers, producers and consumers, which is a huge, strong and friendly community, based on sharing and cooperation, not only on competition and race for money. In this cooperative environment, many gifted developers work together for the common good. There is a free knowledge ideology behind this model, that is about giving freedom to developers, producers and consumers of material goods, unlocking information and supporting free flow of innovation.

There is a key feature in the FOKP model: its GPL-like licenses keep free every new knowledge of production developed, from previous ones. Everyone is free to distribute free knowledge, but only if they distribute it under the same free license, which secures the collective property of free knowledge of production, and assures the 4 freedoms to every developer, producer and consumer:

(0) The freedom to use the knowledge of production, for any purpose;

(1) The freedom to study the knowledge of production, and how the produced good should work, in order to adapt it to your needs;

(2) The freedom to redistribute copies, so you can help your neighbour;

(3) The freedom to improve the knowledge of production, and release improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits;

Through FOKP licenses, the production of free knowledge becomes intrinsically cooperative and community driven: the entire FOKP community may participate in developing free knowledge of production, reporting problems of goods produced, deciding about new features that are needed in certain goods, writing documentation, translating consumers' needs, etc. In short, free knowledge are produced cooperatively by many people, and free licenses are what adds a magic glue to the FOKP community, the good feeling that comes from doing good for others, and knowing that it will continue to do that good for as long as it is used. The model also leads to a new kind of business: the FOKP business model, which is based on selling only the material goods and services, but not the outcome of R&D activities that is mainly developed cooperatively and owned collectively. Open organisations profit not from a private knowledge of production, but from the proper production of material goods and related services, that is, from the work actually realised to make them. Competition is then accomplished over the kinds, variety, combination and quality of the produced goods and services. Presumably, this new model has several consequences: (a) innovations are more consumer oriented to their actual needs; (b) generally, free knowledge of production are quicker developed, and the material goods produced using them present more quality than the proprietary ones; (c) cooperation and competition are both widely stimulated, speeding technological advance; and (d) consumers' locking and monopolies are naturally avoid. This vision is powerful: it does seem to be feasible in some way or another. But we should be cautious as far the actual viability of the FOKP model." (