There was some discussion about initiating a community directed e-commerce outlet to sell hardware designed by GOSH members and collaborative efforts. This is just one idea to help answer the question about funding I’m starting this topic to brainstorm the possible ways this idea could practically come to life.
Major Issue Right Up Front
First off, yeah this is not easy given the fact that there is no GOSH entity that is enabled to handle money transactions. This is a big deal, and while it’s not an impossible problem it deserves careful attention and community consensus in order to ensure equity, transparency, and support from the GOSH community. I’m not about to advocate for any specific type of entity to solve this problem. If anyone has thoughts please reply.
Cooperative Business Model
I don’t know about this kind of entity in any great detail, but at first look it does appear to fit into the GOSH ethos. Here’s some resources that I have dug up in a simple search.
Good Practice in International Cooperatives. This seems to be Euro-centric.
Starting a Co-op
International Cooperative Alliance
Setting Aside The Major Issue For A Minute
Let’s just say that there is some kind of entity that has the blessing of the GOSH community to operate in an endeavor to benefit GOSH and hardware creators. How would something like this actually work? It seems clear that there would have to be some kind of e-commerce portal for the marketing and sale of open hardware that is useful for science, but how does that actually get manifested?
Products hosted by the store could be things that are already in production. Take, for example, the family of tools that is made by Public Lab. The entity could engage with PL as a wholesale distributor, and create a relationship that would benefit PL, the entity, and GOSH. There are already individuals and companies that make open source tools for science that are already involved in the GOSH community. Establishing reseller agreements with them would be low hanging fruit.
Members of the GOSH community would come together and collaborate on new designs that solve scientific hardware problems. Funds generated from the sale of these devices would benefit both the GOSH community and the specific members of GOSH who are the device creators. The breakdown of this split would have to be negotiated somehow, and I imagine it would be defined on a case by case basis.
In this scenario, individuals or entities would have a way to engage with the GOSH community of super smart and talented people to present a problem in need of a hardware solution. GOSH members would collaborate on how to meet that need, and the result would be documented and made open-source and possibly produced and offered for sale if there is a market for it.
In order for this idea to actually work, it needs to be sustainable. As I’ve laid out the potential income streams, there would have to be enough revenue to support the entity that holds it all together (taxes, fees, advertising, etc) and still offer some financial support to the GOSH community. It’s not really worth it unless it provides some use for us all, right?
What, Exactly, Is The Benefit?
Oh, yeah, that’s kind of important… Well, it seems like the simplest way to do this would be to ‘let the community decide’. In practice, that idea is really just a pile of bones, and needs some connective tissue, muscles, viscera, circulatory system, respiratory system, various glands, and a brain, or multiple brains, in order to become a real thing.