Open Source Product Development Pipeline

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This is the general Open Source Product Development strategy for rapid synthesis of knowledge and expertise required to deploy the Global Village Construction Set within a time frame of under 2 years.

Problem Statement

To date, we have been engaging a rather ineffective development process for open source product development, from the standpoint of scalability. Essentially, Marcin was the main developer on the CEB press and LifeTrac. While excellent prototype results came out of this process, it was essentially a one-man show utilizing in-house resources. We did tap Crowd Funding at the $2k/month level in September and October, 2008.

While it is possible for one person to carry on the above program with relative success, based on one's capacity to provide the necessary due diligence - the process is limited in that it cannot be scaled. The limit to scalability is the lack of resources required to pay for other developers or more knowledgeable professionals. These are the limits of volunteer labor. We're dealing with limited funding and limited time in a day.

The main barriers to rapid development that we have faced so far at Factor e Farm is the lack of integrated information that helps one deploy all the technologies for the GVCS. It is our experience that while the internet contains lots of information, it is largely disorganized, low quality content. It is especially difficult to find economically-significant information - ie, that information which would help people become effective producers. So, while there's tons of crappy, incomplete, disintegrated, and biased information exists - rational information that can help one assess technological design, and therefore gain technological literacy towards the goals of effective production - is missing.

Sites like Instructables encourage individuals to develop and share but do not provide the structures necessary to refine designs into economically competitive projects. The Maker community is still in it's infancy, and the focus is largely on the very important step of empowering people to make things. But we are intent on developing products that replace primary economic goods (food and shelter systems) rather than hobby products. We need more than design sharing, we need a robust system that socializes the design process at every step, making the most of every volunteer's time and expertise. The current model of Making is individual design, community discussion, derivative individual design. Our goal is community design, life-cycle analysis, derivative community design. This ecologically-integrated product and production development system is literally nonexistent.

To summarize, we have to date been unable to spawn a massive, open source product development process. The missing link is a online collaborative infrastructure that can not only collect expertise and useful information, but organize it into coherent design proposals. This lack of a community support structure leaves developers on the ground at Factor E Farm to develop in isolation. We need support online and around the world to make accelerate on-site development and to make our site an attractive destination for the kind of talent we need to build the entire GVCS. The level of support will determine the quality of the 40 product package and the speed with which we can deliver it. We think we can prototype the package in 2 years time, but it will take a global village.

The Solution

Solution to the above dilemma lies in two main general development points.

  1. Being able to transition readily from generalist design specifications of GVCS technologies to peer-reviewed, expert-verified designs and predictions of cost, performance, and schedule
  2. Being able to fund the above expert-verified material for on-demand deployment, assuring deployment in a timely fashion of 2 years for the ~ 40 empowerment technologies of the GVCS

These two development points are grounded upon the comprehensive description of the entire GVCS, as found primarily in the Distillations. The Distillations, while generalist in detail, define the scope of the project - in terms of providing a sufficient, though incomplete, technology base for ecotechnologically advanced civilization.

These two development points also assume the presence of a physical laboratory - Factor e Farm - for carrying out the building of the world's first, replicable, open source, global village. Moreover, we have under our command the building techniques, utilizing both standard and CEB construction methods - for housing any collaborators on-demand.

One possible deployment scenario is that outside expertise is funded to develop technical details of implementation, and Dream Team 30 will serve largely in an integrative and testing capacity. It takes a village to build a village.

Proposed Tactical Approach

In practice, the 2 points of The Solution above may be implemented as follows.

To address the first point, we need to involve outside expertise early on in each project. To date, the entire package has been defined in Distillation 2 - so this is the springboard for further action. Basic product descriptions can be collated readily from these, with performance and cost specifications. This should be then taken to experts for peer review.

The above may be effective if the reviewer has a financial stake in the project. That is - we can combine review and bidding in the same step. To do this, we simply ask for review by potential builders of the technology - such as professional fabricators, researchers, or prototyping groups. This way, we could streamline review by going directly to the people who will be building the technology - and who are thus attracted - even if we have to pay them.

The second point in The Solution builds right upon the first point. If we have expert review of a person who can guarantee results and schedules, then we are well-position to solicit crowd and other funding options.

Overall Product Development Technique

The above simple formula addresses the technical and practical feasibility of GVCS product propositions, while providing a firm basis for generating funding. If we combine this with the support from Meme Hubs, generated by the personal invitation of the OS Product Development Pipeline (OSPDP) core team - then we may have a winning package.

Thus, our procedure is as follows

  1. Develop this tactical approach within a small OSPDP core team
  2. Identify and recruit support of about 10-20 meme hubs
  3. Pursue detailed due diligence (next section) of each of the 40 products
    1. Prioritize development on immediate infrastructure needs of Factor e Farm
    2. Prioritize development based on tooling availability (ie, lathe must be available prior to steam engine fabrication)
  4. Continue building Dream Team 30 and True Fans support base via viral marketing, university lectures, and other meme hubs
  5. Be done by year-end 2010

Due Diligence

The more detailed development plan is outlined below, via 5 phases: Design, Review and Bidding, Funding, Deployment, and Integration.


This design needs to go only so far as to define detailed performance and cost specifications of a product, which is then passed on to the Review and Bidding process. Design includes:

  • Specifications pursuant to OSE Specifications, which includes ecological qualities
  • Design rationale
  • Cost structure analysis
    • Stock material costs
    • Specialized parts and non-substitutable parts cost
    • Overall prototype costs
    • Predicted costs after fabrication optimization, such as after tooling has been developed
  • 3D renderings
  • Technical drawings
  • Calculations and Computer Aided Engineering, if applicable

See the Product Specifications for the 40 technologies of interest.

Review and Bidding

The above information is submitted to a competitive bidding process to 3-5 places. This must allow for complete documentation of the fabrication process.

  • Verify specifications
  • Verify cost structure
  • Verify design
  • Produce bid


Submit to meme hub and other viral marketing channels for crowd funding. Other, string-free funding channels may be used.


Fabricator travels to Factor e Farm for a 1-week to 1-month period, depeding on the project. Tooling available at Factor e Farm is utilized.

  • Requirement is that the fabricator must come to Factor e Farm for open documentation to occur
  • If the above is not possible, a member of Factor e Farm must travel to the fabricator's location.

Rubber Hits the Road

This starts with defining product Specifications.