Public Resource Network

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By Nathan Cravens

Public Resource Ecology

Requirements for a Free Commons Based Public Resource System

0. Open Data.
1. Public Resource System. Displays a virtual model of the real world. (i.e. Google Earth meets Freecycle meets Facebook meets TinkerCAD)

  • Production Engine
    • Provides a design platform to create a novel design or uses ready-made designs
    • Determines where product and product parts are made
  • Distribution Engine
    • Alerts automated vehicles to retrieve and deliver materials or products (i.e. the free course: CS373 - PROGRAMMING A ROBOTIC CAR)

2. Common Land. (i.e. La Via Campesina and Rajastan)
3. Materials Commons. Free material for product construction. (i.e. Freecycle) Start with dumps before exploring extraction.
4. Industrial Commons. Places to go to make, learn, or have them made (i.e. Open Source Ecology and Wikispeed)
5. Robotics Network. For transport, manufacturing, and service. The network depends on a Global Localization and Manipulation Engine. Robots are divided into three types:

  • Fabots - make things
  • Servibots - feed materials to fabots and distribots or people
  • Distribots - deliver materials to or from factory and user location

6. Labour Commons. People willing to work for free
7. Transport Commons. Distribots are registered for non-commercial use for free to use on road or rail built to last

Areas to Model

Where are things made and what makes things and how?

  • Space
  • Skills/Instructions
  • Materials
  • Tools/Robotics
  • Transport
  • Contracts/Governance
  • Products/Outcomes

See: Holistic Problem of Manufacturing

Open Design 'Flash Mob' Development Lifecycle

OPEN SOURCE | Presents data to follow >>
AGGREGATE | Choose the best selections >>
INTEREST PROFILE | Determine who develops selections >>
DISCUSSION | Determine job roles and rough completion times >>
DESIGN OUTLINE | A simple product outline is drawn >>
DESIGN | Instructions on how to assembly a product; completion goals set >>
MATERIALS REQUEST | Alert suppliers of material requirements >>
FABRICATE PROTOTYPE | Attempt to make the product easy to make anywhere >>
OPTIMIZE | Modification build-up alerts interest profiles of the need to regroup >>



  • A social network tool to link with individuals and organizations to make processes and physical objects open and free

Raw Materials

  • Landfill extraction
  • Virgin extraction
  • Storage


  • Multi-tool drill, 3D printer, robotics, ect.

Industrial Sites

  • Local/Home Rapid Prototyping
  • Fully Automated Mass Production

Agricultural Sites

  • Aquaponics to grow fish and plants without soil


  • Wifi connected microcomputers provide mesh network and cloud resources for free communication and information storage.


  • Automated vehicles
  • Vehicles within vehicles
  • Less need for distribution centers


  • Solar panels from abundant materials
  • Batteries painted onto surfaces
  • Wireless energy transfer


  • Drinking water extracted from air



Wouldn't it be nice to apply SimCity to the real world? Already we have a publicly curated resource of knowledge, like Wikipedia, freely available. A web that describes more detail about a physical space and the objects within it begins to outline the concept of a Public Resource Network.

When details about the space are of public interest, owners can put the space online, by placing cameras to view the area and sensors to track and model the space, so that useful processes happening on the site, such as aquaponic agriculture, can be visually modeled, point-by-point how-to instructions to build your own.

Public resource networks apply social networking technologies presently used by Facebook, visually modeling a physical space, enabling viewers or users to make changes to the virtual model from the web much like TinkerCAD, expecting a change to the material space, like applying the concept of Thingverse, presenting designs focused on at home 3d printing. These techniques can be applied for the home, workshop or small workgroup, or mass production (fully automated, ideally).

We have everything for mainstreaming true gift economy. Its just a matter of putting the pieces together. Its possible today and will only become more practical, especially as technology itself becomes easier and more interesting to develop within the ecology of other related technologies or abilities.

Free Distribution

Autonomous vehicles, without needing a driver, enables the streamlining of distribution: shipping a product from the factory to the end user, removing the need to staff or waste space as warehouses or retail shops. The Edison 2 four passenger hybrid vehicle boasts a very impressive 350mpg. Vehicles could link together during transit and prevent vehicles from refueling, having batteries charged from tire rotations (and solar panels if needed) as the vehicle(s) in front pull the train.

For more information view Automated Distribution Systems

Free Production

ABB is preparing 1 million robots to replace 1.2 million Foxconn workers; and those put out of work would find the gift option more attractive than other options. ASIMO's latest demostration shows the best in tactile robotics today, for instance, the ability to twist and remove the top lid of a cup and pour liquid into another cup, almost as quickly as a person can, is rather impressive. Bosch is training a PR2 how to use its power tools. ROS recently launched the ROS-Industrial platform.

Free Space & Materials

Here it is a matter of establishing the space and raw materials within it as a free resource. How to persuade land owners is a very good question to answer. Difficulty may increase if a material is rare or quantity of demand is high. Homesteading provides one answer; reviving local food production; distributing the homesteader's surplus locally by means of perhaps a Segway-based robotic delivery system able to carry multiple containers to homes in the neighborhood. Community supported agriculture (CSA) platforms are another option, where people buy shares that ideally pay for food production, equally distributed come harvest. For a non-commercial scenario, all the farmer's material and labor needs are gifted by the local community in return for great food. When this idea was mentioned to my CSA director friend, he was cynical toward the idea, but if we have improved online interfaces helping people gift stuff in the way Kickstarter and Indiegogo gifts money, then the coordination ability of our hypothetical public resource interface (able to visualize the once 'invisible hand') ensures the farmer gets what the farm needs for free for the benefit of the farmer's community.

Non-Commercial Open Hardware Licenses


The first non-commercial open hardware licenses can be open source, but with the license produced in a largely commercial environment, its free distribution is limited to the digital design, until enough volunteers, donations, and materials/parts suppliers and package delivery service partnerships realize the benefits of free material transfer to make a free product. Such a license presents an amazing challenge: to require people and organisations to give and receive freely in the physical form. This warrants the need for suppliers to form 'gift contracts' with developers dependent on various materials or parts. This introduces the discussion of free and open logistics necessary for development and delivery of products under non-commercial open hardware licenses.

Proper online social network design, affordable high resolution cameras and sensors, and autonomous production and delivery robots and related technologies will all work to make non-commercial licenses, not only feasible, but more efficient than commercial practices.

The first legitimately non-commercial product makes a gift contract with the promise to send materials or parts to the developer that assembles the final product for free, except delivery cost. The developer here pays the shipping price and so must the user. This calls for a 'non-commercial product with commercial delivery' license. A non-commercial product of this type would have a price, but the user paying the delivery charge for the product would only pay the aggregated per unit cost of delivered parts assembled as a product, including the price to ship the product to the user. If the developer purchases delivery in bulk from gift contract partners, the price for the user is reduced.

The next and final stage of the non-commercial license forms a gift partnership with a package delivery service for free delivery. This means a non-commercial license with the result of free acquisition by the user. The shipping agent knows the product is free, so a gift contract is formed for free product delivery. At first the price of delivery will likely be subsided by the delivery agent. It is directly beneficial for the package delivery service to form this partnership if the gift partnership is with organizations that develop vehicles and other hardware specifically needed for package delivery. Following this logic, the first zero price non-commercial open hardware products will likely deliver themselves.

At least one issue remains: for partners that give materials freely, but not benefit from products made from donated materials, how can the partner maintain the operation without money? One answer would be to increase the scale of the Occupy! movement and go beyond free food and shelter of the occupied site, expanded to spaces that freely meet life's needs and legitimate comforts. Second, the legalization and mass production or mass localisation of small workshops producing autonomous vehicles dissolve the paid transport barrier, granted materials are given to maintain infrastructures for free delivery. At the moment driverless cars are only legal in Nevada and must have a driver at the wheel, but if the Google Car and others continue to drive without causing collision, it looks as if autonomous vehicles without a driver could be legal by 2018. This date anticipates a policy progression of: 2014, a minimally distracted driver; 2016, a mostly distracted driver; 2018, no driver required. If my rough descriptions of Automated Distribution Systems are acted on now, designed and tested, by 2025 we could feasibly have a variety of newly produced zero priced products floating around, like multicopters.


A Social Network for Products: Less Cost, Then Free

For licenses to be very effective, they need help making the novel connections needed to anticipate free hardware, which means creating a social network for business with interest in having a non-commercial advantage that helps in formulating contracts and licenses. The first businesses will be attracted by having a lower price and better quality product, but eventually or perhaps rapidly with the introduction of robotic vehicles, have competition with, say, locally sourced and produced free products. Essentially businesses and governments would put the product at the center of the network, with suppliers and suppliers of suppliers and their related dependencies such as utility companies and taxes. The purpose of the product network would be to have a comprehensive bill of materials to determine what is created the artificial scarcity. The social network in its function will demonstrate that prices are artificial and people will begin to question prices or having prices at all. It needs to be a self organizing system that can blend the best of existing social networks for business like LinkdIn and InnoCentive, but also create tools for design, spacial mapping of production facilities and its associated networks with the use of affordable robots like quadcopters or the Turtlebot, programs for modeling real and abstract functions of product manufacture and its network. (See: Process modeling) Keeping a focus on the product is a way to mark the tree as not to get lost in the forest. It also reduces the focus on a brand or corporation, as a number of corporations and others will be collectively encouraged to develop a product.


Common sense expects a free-commercial hybrid form at first. Like Linux, most of its developers are paid, but the free product prospers, because the code is open to view and modification, reducing development silos and redundancy. Potentially, a problem solved is less work for another, with greater solutions to build from, further reducing costs and increasing efficiency and quality. Commercial firms producing hardware with several parts will begin to fund free-open hardware parts to replace elements of commercial products for competitive advantage: a better quality, less expensive product than rivals in the marketplace, until common space and material rights are reformed and standardized. Soon robotics software and hardware will become more flexible and creative to render any commercial element related to products, obsolete.