Collaborative Development (10:30-11:30)


Session Title: Collaborative Development
Date: 23-Mar-2017
Attendees (who was there?):

  • David Bild (notes)
  • Marina de Freitas
  • Séverine Cazaux
  • Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou
  • Dorn Cox
  • Coco Coyle
  • Tara Tiger Brown
  • Kaspar
  • Gayatri Buragohain
  • Akshai M
  • Rafael Pezzi
  • Greg Austic
  • Daniel Vicente Lühr Sierra
  • Shan He
  • Bethan Wolfenden
  • Mario Behling
  • Lena Asai
  • Jeffe van Holle

Overview of topic (3-6 sentences):
This session tackle the question of how disparate people from disparate places can collaborate to develop a thing/tecnology for local communities needs. The main forms, issues, problems, methodologies and possibilities related to the collaborative development of software and hardware were addressed and analyzed.

how do disparate people from disparate places develop a thing? (greg)
challenges in collaborative platforms and how to maintain forums. and how to share documentation (Dorin)
work with people under 25 yrs old. professors from art and science schools don’t see the point (Lena)
collaboration without technology (locally), collaboration nationally, collaboration internationally…how to avoid colonialism, equity of knowledge (Thomas)
Mario: difference b/w offline and online?
Thomas: in africa, everyone has mobile phone. can transmit knowledge through mobile phone through photos if they don’t speak same language

Marina: 1st learn to collaboration in person. 2nd collaborate with colleagues online, 3rd country, 4th internationally

Akshai: How do you collaborate on software in developing countries?

Kaspar: technical challenges. how do we make mobile phone more collaborative? how do we make hardware development more collaborative

Thomas: Science shop in Europe(?)

Split into 2 group… Now taking notes on local development.

Local Collaborative Development

  • Marina de Freitas
  • Jeffe Van Holle
  • Greg Austic
  • David Bild
  • Séverine Cazaux
  • Thomas Hervé Mboa Nkoudou
  • Coco Coyle

Marina: Skills are a problem. Local community trying to adapt a tool that you have don’t necessarily understand the tool.
Séverine: critical to build solution with the local community rather them coming in with a solution.
Jeffe: start off with the local people with out starting with values of this is good or this is bad.
Coco: don’t want to go in and ask community what the problem is and how can i solve it?
Greg: you need to have a structure where everyone comes to the table as equals. If would b egreat to have 15-20 you need skill x, here is the person to ask
Jeffe: Empathy and sympathy are necessary
Marina: necessary to embed yourself within the community. there is no fast food solution. can’t just come in and offer a solution
Marina and Greg: the challenge is with money …
Coco: relationship building and that it is a mutual beneficial relationship. what can I learn and what can i give?
Séverine: community in Mexico that had no access to technology. hacker group began a long term collaboration with this group, tried to say that a mobile phone would be a benefit, but community didn’t want the tech because thought that it would destroy their culture. progressed to deciding how to use phone (i.e. to communicate to spouse in the field that km away)
Marina: tribe in a amazon documented medicinal plants, but they were so afraid to that pharmaceutical companies that would steal knowledge that they did it in their own knowledge.

Thomas: collaboration for development. In his village built a well for water, and built a pump to bring up the water. the electric current is very slow to push water and needed to turn on at 2-3am in the morning. after 2 months, got a call from villager asking how they can use solar energy and how to make it so she didn’t need to go turn on the pump at 2am. This is the type of example of how collaboration can happen. The needs come from them. This is the idea of the Science Shop (ebang binguen in Cameroon)
-volunteer idea doesn’t work in Africa, people need money. No political support for these initiative so it’s international funding

Thomas: Fab Lab and Maker Space is western idea (people think it’s a technical place; often forget about the community).
Greg: Fab Lab and Maker Spaces were not designed to really solve problems. What were looking for is the Minimum Viable Product to solve local problems
Marina: Fab Lab in Montreal (has tools to develop open project; can use for free, closed project-they charge

Marina: need the money, need the insiders

Dorn Cox / Farm OS
has some principals - make data and platforms interoperable
At a local level, give larger GOSH community to make bigger community welcome and give them a sense they are part of an international movement
Can GOSH host small community forums?

How to collaborate with international communities
Failing to scale outside India
Looking for collaborators outside India to help scale outside his country

Rafael / CTA
Likes how CERN collaborates
Modularizing the work being done and then fits together when completing

Forums / Mail Lists / Wikis
Same tools can be used internationally or remotely
Wrote a paper about how to facilitate the group, communication, rotates every few months

University of Duke
White Rabbit -

Collaborate through institutions and across institutions
Forums / Slack
It can take a long time to get the project members to communicate in a timely manner. Some of that is a time zone difference
Difficult to share hardware and tools internationally - can be cost prohibitive.
Try and choose materials that are available internationally – but if projects are developed locally or fast people won’t consider the parts in this context.

Works in China
Huge collaboration in Shinjin
In China it’s top down and she benefits from international collaboration at Public Labs
Hard to bring that magic to China
Question - how can she bring this international collaboration back to local level in China
Wikipedia is partially blocked – although culturally she doesn’t know that people would use it
Twitter, Facebook blocked

How do we welcome and include people that are collaborating on projects as a volunteer or a spare time.

Practice being welcoming by creating projects together

Give students a mentor when they join a community


Thank you for the notes! Sharing mine as well. Cheers.


  • How do you collaborate?
  • Ashkai: Expeyes - Scale outside India
  • Bethan: How to encourage people to participate in a project that is already existing?
  • Daniel: At some point we need to move pieces of hardware - huge challenge
  • B. use hardware that can be build anywhere
  • How to get team engagement and commitments
  • How to follow deadlines (or milestones)


  • - principles
  • Daniel: Not Open, but detector technology at CERN (hierarchical, closed wiki)
    • modularize
    • CERN also has open hardware repository (white rabbit, synchronization, single lab)
  • local levels
  • What is the difference to software development?


  • importance of documentation


  • use of wikis, forums etc.
  • rotation of the facilitator of the group
  • establish culture
  • using Slack for example
  • Google groups
  • Daniel: Nothing seems to work smoothly
  • infrastructure for communication
  • time is crucial
  • Shan He: Meaning of collaboration different in China to other parts of the world
  • Kasper: Again - question of hierachical
  • Wikipedia partially blocked in China
  • Welcoming committee to new contributors


  • collaborate through institutions with funding and structure
  • Daniel collaborates with groups in HK and Japan
  • Bethan: Questions of full-time vs. part-time and volunteer vs. professional
  • P. larger GOSH community assitants community welcome
  • GOSH Best Practices:
    • Host projects, e.g. sub-forums of GOSH