GOSH Community Forum

Day 3: Distributed Innovation in Hardware Communities

@shicks (Shannon H) @asmithw (Adam) @AlexSk @mkdryden (Mike) @leandro.mastrantonio @dbldutch (Angela) @Bronwen @Nicole

We talked about the challenges of managing a distributed team and how to get participants interested and invested. We also talked about the challenges of tracking hardware (exchange, distribution, etc). We determined that a workshop is needed to discuss best practices around managing a distributed team. We identified some project tracking tools that people were not aware of.

• Makeup of Public Lab
o Non-profit team of paid 9 people: everyone does everything
o Fellowship and grant funded projects…community members get paid (fellows, pHD students
o Some members come and go over years and then community members who are committed to a certain project
o Some people are just curious, asking questions, looking for support, PL also helps some people sell their products
o PL work with regional organizers or topic organizers who can run events, workshops, onboarding, connecting people and providing support
o Most of PL community is in the USA
• Action: how do I get volunteers who are committed?
• Action: can find synergies ie. One community helps by cross posting to identify strengths from other projects. It cuts down on time needed and conserve resources.
• Action: create community that can facilitate collaborations between different OSH communities. If we can play to our strengths so we can help each.
• Action: how to link communities for hardware exchange
o Firmware, hardware, and assembly development
o Ultimately, working together would result in greater efficiency
o How to move from parts to assembled products
• To find collaborators, they need an incentive. You need trade and buy in. But then there is the issue of quality control (consistency, accuracy, and timeline)
• Safecast: sponsoring instead of buying. Users are providing a space and funding while Safecast is providing the platform and space for data collection. However, users feel that they own it
o How to ensure those users can receive support
• Collaboration without communities absorbing one another
• Github is a good resource…if you want to test out hardware, you could find a model. While you can’t control what the manufactures do, it can be a great starting point.
• If you can find people who want to also do something around hardware sensing, you can come together and buy it together so it is cheaper. Hardware is cheaper if bought together
• Concrete: Shannon’s board can be used across other sensors such as water, air, and radiation. Even though each sensor won’t do everything, 90% of the hardware and coding might be the same so it is worth talking to each other. Just because your sensor is a water sensor, doesn’t mean you can’t build on it for air sensor
• You can reach out to other communities for testing etc
• Communication is key if you are to find people to collaborate with. Perhaps a way to make sure people can collaborate, is to be vocal about your skills, how to ask questions.
• You don’t need to know all aspects of manufacturing, you can be an expert in a small way. You need to get to know people
• Public Lab: Q&A with tags so that you can be alerted when a topic you’ve subscribed to pops up.
o Community managers are needed to maintain this
o Make an account on public lab and subscribe to whatever topics you are interested in and you will be notified when there’s discussion around it
o How to avoid platform fatigue? Tagging lets you step away and have focused notifications and research
o Open call: Public lab has 1 hour a week where they video call with people interested in getting involved. It is facilitated which helps it remain focus. It is less formal and has an agenda. Always on Tuesday
o Open hour: panel style for people interest in a certain topic and it is moderated. Alternates time between 1pm and 8pm to make sure you capture different groups.
• Other hardware distributed communities
o Spectrometer project: biggest challenge is that no one has enough time (4-10%)
 Make a concrete plan to host meetings…also need to have action items at the end of every meeting
 Every project needs someone who is going to organize and drive the project
• Different organization tools: slack, airtable, gitlab
o Hardware is harder to track than software
• Example of successful hardware tracking: 3D printing

Action Items
• Hackathon: integrate distributed team management in hardware supply chain discussion
• Have a workshop on how to manage a distributed teams
• Angela t subscribe to Public Lab forum to see how the team keeps each other and public informed on specific topics through tagging on platform