Open Manufacturing

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Paul Fernhout on "Six Areas" of exploration


Anyway, I feel Bryan is right in wanting to separate out some issues. Here are six broad areas of exploration I see right now that have been discussed on this list:

  • The world how it was historically (like what has been tried and thought about, all the "-ologies" and "-isms", and also how they would relate to open manufacturing and related ideals, as in, how does open manufacturing affirm or invalidate the principles of, say, "the iron law of wages" or "hunter/gatherer ideals" or the almost half-century old "Triple Revolution" document.)
  • The world as it is right now, and how it might be patched up (with open manufacturing or the open enterprise or other alternatives like a new currency to redirect the flow of manufacturing, for example, can Iceland be saved with open manufacturing under the current dominant economic system? Or could an Icelandic electric-Krona help it right now?)
  • The world in transition to a post-scarcity future (and how open manufacturing relates to that, as well as other proposals like, how can a slowly expanding open source movement bring abundance to more and more people? Or, can a different sort of currency bring about a better future with manufacturing happening in a more open and sustainable way, like an electric-based dollar, or a basic income guarantee, and so on). There is some overlap here with the previous topic of patching up the world -- I'm not combining them though because there may be people who do believe in open manufacturing but don't believe in the possibility or desirability of a post-scarcity future moving beyond conventional economics.
  • The world as a fully post-scarcity society in the future and how it would work [1] (once we got there, like, how what are the implications of Desktop Manufacturing, or every home having a 3D printer or similar system at the neighborhood level, such as what it means to be able to print toys, or print agricultural robots to grow our food, or print solar panels to collect power, or print diamandoid materials to build our spacecraft, or print machines to make more 3D printer toner from air, water, rock, and print shredders that can recycle no longer needed printed objects back into 3D printer toner). A lot of this entails speculation, and relates to a lot of sci-fi, from authors like Vinge, Banks, Hogan, Brain, and so on.
  • The world approaching "The Singularity" or a series of singularity-like transitions, and a how open manufacturing values and approaches may interact with a singularity. Again, there is overlap here with the post-scarcity world idea, but there are people who may believe in one but not the other, and some who believe in both, and some who believe in neither.
  • Interwoven with all those societal discussions are the specific technical artifacts we might be talking about and the process of actually designing them in detail. But this interconnection would be more obvious if we had some critical mass of manufacturing designs and metadata encoded in common open formats and usable for analysis and simulation to explore all these areas (historic, current, transitional, post-scarcity, singularity). If there is an argument for a "openmanufacturing-dev" list like Bryan made, that might be a clearer boundary -- the focus on making such a system (or systems, SKDB, OSCOMAK, fenn's Gingery-related work, open biotech, and so on, maybe in partnership with others, or using existing platforms and standards) so it may be used to inform general discussion here, like support detailed simulations of alternative economics and sustainability. Though even then, should discussions of simulations be on which list? Or building simulations is discussed on that one, and running simulations is discussed on this one? But one could possibly work that out down the road.

More Information

  • Mailing list: We discuss practical manufacturing of physical items primarily outside proprietary agency. Discussion list launched by Nathan Cravens


  1. Free Manufacturing
  2. Open Production