The Dark Ages of Open Source

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This is the best summary so far on the lack of imagination that has to date prevented viable open source business models from being replicated widely in the 3D printer space.

From Jonathan Quesnel:

hello marcin what would be your answer to this video:

This is a very important subject I think.

MJ: Yes, we are unfortunately in 2023 in the dark ages of open-collaborative enterprise. This has been the case - in my mind - ever since Makerbot made the clear proposition that 'open source hardware business models do not work'. But it is also baked into the Open Hardware Definition, which does not require collaboration, just openness. I have observed that we must always make the distinction of not only open, but open-collaborative - to capture the essence of higher virtues that are possible with The Promise of Open Source

The fact is, nobody to date has yet created a replicable, open source business model around hardware. OSE and Precious Plastic are the 2 closest that I am aware of. The distress-sale of Lulzbot in 2019 cemented the sad state of affairs. And in 2023, Shuttleworth Foundation shut down. OSE, having watched this history unfold since 2003 - is committed to showing the first case of open-collaborative business model scalability. We are working on this with the Seed Eco-Home 4 right now, creating the necessary conditions that allow open collaborative innovation to flourish. The goal is lofty - Distributed Market Substitution (80% market share of open-collaborative production) of the global house construction space within 10 years of proof of concept of the revenue model. We are a few months away from such proof at present. See more at The Economic Advantage of Open.


A disciplined business model and economic engine needs to be created to make open harware work for a specific enterprise. See Good to Great and Built to Last. Open source design is only a part of it. A business model, a distribution/replication mechanism (education in our case) - must be developed as well. Open source is not a business model. A specific business model created around an open design can be a viable business model. But in our view, it must be collaborative at the core, it must include creation of culture to escape the moral philosophy of slavery initially proposed by Socrates but still alive today - and it must include a clear economic flywheel that is both highly productive and humane. In our view, it must create culture through education, and that education must be a core aspect because we literally need to re-indoctrinate society to a post-scarcity culture, reversing the dominant mental model of scarcity built throughout the course of human civilization. I think that unlike other times in history, the conditions are right for executing on post-scarcity economic systems. The model must possess fundamental virtue, as opposed to simple strategic use of open source (see Strategic Open Source). The brutal facts are that humans are still very brutal (patents in general, Invasion of Ukraine, etc) - such that the notions of practical post-scarcity are very much foreign to people as people get scared of survival pretty quickly. This is a mindset issue. Because today humanity is supported by an existing technological capacity that could make survival easy for everyone. Thus, the model must be inclusive of everyone, to solve the Last Frontier of Economics: Distribution and other unsolved issues such as totalitarianism and other unfreedoms.


In response to [1]

This is great - people actually read the wiki. Cesar Jung-Harada Kim Keyser - what I am stating is what I intend to define a clear goal of the open source economy. Distributive Enterprise and Distributed Market Substitution (DMS)- in order to be more than some hippie ideals that stop short of traction - we have to be clear on exactly what we mean by DMS. I have communicated to the world that I would like to contribute to the open source economy - and I do not currently see a positive trend in this direction as open hardware has pretty much stalled from its glory days of the early 2000s, as nailed on the coffin with the original open source 3D printer guys - the icons of open source - now promoting going proprietary. And of course open software is largely strategic open source, missing the original transformative goals. It is largely business as usual in a competitive world - open has a clear economic advantage. With that said, I actually believe that open hardware - has the promise of delivering on the original ideals - AND actually a much better chance than open software. Despite of open hardware being 1000x harder to execute on than open software. THat is bacuase open hardware has the potential to affect human lives, "in such tangible, material ways". That's a line right out of my TED talk. It always disturbed me that I could never define 'the open source economy' - because the proposal is so huge. It includes the eradication of artificial scarcity, and the current paradigm of scarcity-based business models. So for some accountability: i did this simple mental exercise to come up with 80% in 10 years. The idea is simple: our claim has always been that open could provide much better results than proprietary. What does that mean? Let's see: if open hardware gains a few percent market share, that means that proprietary is clearly superior in delivering results. Now what if open hardware gains a 50% share? That means that open development performs equally well as proprietary. But I do not claim that open can be only as good as - I am claiming that open has the potential to produce far superior results when executed correctly. From the moral philosophical perspective, that is obvious. From the practical perspective, it is 'hard', but in my opinion inevitable. Now what does this mean in numbers? Translating 'far superior' simply means that it's the vast majority, such as 80-90%. In that case, the proprietary case is an outlier, not the norm. And why the 10 year time frame? First, note that it's a thousands year old time frame - timeless - since human knowledge begin to build to modern civilization. And more specifically for OSE, it is a timeframe that started 20 years ago, with all the proofs of concept that we achieved collectively to date. Now we are at a point where digital replication can occur, so the 10 year into the future goal is comparable in timeframe to known unicorns, but it will be much larger than the unicorn in scale because hardware is essentially more valuable, and if it is open (as opposed to strategic-open) then it will have a high chance of becoming widely distributed. This is my 2 cents on the evolution of civilization, and of course it could be completely wrong because I do not claim any special wisdom, just the obvious and brutal facts.