My name is David Li and I am the executive directory of Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab. I am excited about GOSH 2018 to be in Shenzhen and want to welcome everyone to the city.
I’d like to open this up this discussion for GOSH in Shenzhen since we are planning to invite supplier to the events.
One of the recurrent themes I keep seeing in the open source hardware is the inability to build up a true ecosystem around it. Most of the hardware projects are open source in name but in practice use “open source” more as a branding and being very territorial when it comes to commercialization attacking “copycats” even the project teams have no intention in selling the kits or products themselves.
In the software analogy, it’s not open source. It’s called shareware which has been rejected by the open source software community from the definition.
Such practices have not been useful for the growth of the community and cause a lot of reinventing the wheel activities. In March of 2017, I received about 4 “open source” projects all making water monitoring system with the almost identical spec and some superficial difference. I made a suggestion for them to consolidate but none of them would. Later on, some vendors are interested in making the kits for sales but the original teams all refuse to collaborate because their open source design is for them only.
This is not very useful for end users like high schools who want to adopt open science hardware. No reliable suppliers to provide productions and supports. The original ones remind spotty in support and high in price.
I would like to open the discussion on what’s the proper way to interface the open source projects and the wide production system to:
Ensure the GOSH projects are true to the open source, not some market branding
Build up a commercialization ecosystem that benefit all stakeholders: developers, producers and consumers with an agreeable rule of engagements
I think Shenzhen is a good place to discuss about this for GOSH as the ecosystem build trillion dollar industries on openness.
For me, truly open source projects should learn to appreciate the growth and adoption of their projects in the wild. Adrublock I created a few years back is now most adopted graphical programming environment for Arduino. 67 countries, 52 translations and thousands of classes. I never make any money on these even it was adopted by Sparkfun, Makeblock, DFRobot, EduDuino and etc. I am pretty happy to see all the tweet with photos of kids using the program all over the world.
Not saying making money is bad. I could have done well running an Adrublock business but there are other things more interesting to me and opptunities cost to run Adrublock business is too high for me. If I had kept it proprietary, the project would be just sitting somewhere on my hard drive taking up space. By open sourcing, I get pictures of smiling kids in Lima on Twitter.
I would suggest that we use the opportunity of GOSH in Shenzhen to kick off the discussion on how to build a good commericial ecosystem for GOSH projects.