View Full Version : applicability of open source development principles to realworld design applications?

December 29th, 2005, 02:38 PM
Okay. Basically just curious about this and trying to find more information, if it exists... some quick background - been using Ubuntu for about a year now, it was my first try at linux and it's been great - my first desktop install went off without a hitch, and with a little effort i've been able to get Ubuntu to do everything I need it to do (well, except burning DVDs) -- and after swapping Ubuntu in for Windows ME on my work fileserver (and the subsequent 8 months of no server crashes - unheard of!) I'm completely convinced that, as a product, Ubuntu is a prime example of something produced by an open source development process, but equal or better to rivals produced by a more traditional/commercial process.

I've been thinking about whether or not such a widely-distributed, internet-connected collaborative design process could be applied not only to software, but to other areas of endeavor. (Looking at Wikipedia inspired this - definately closer to a "real-world" app than a piece of sortware).

In particular, I'm interested in the possible implications to architecture (architecture grad student here), and especially in the possible advances in sustainable-design technologies and techniques that could be advanced through an open/free design process. It's an area, like open-source software, where people are passionate enough about the topic (i hope) to be willing to give their time for no monetary compensation. I also think the production of construction drawings is roughly analagous to the production of an operating system.

some articles that (almost) start to talk about this:

The Political Economy of Open Source Software / Steven Weber 2000 (http://e-conomy.berkeley.edu/publications/wp/wp140.pdf)
--really interesting read basically outlining the linux development model from an economic, social, philosophical perspective. Breifly talks about possible extensions to other fields of design (last few pages).

Episodes of Collective Invention / Peter B. Meyer 2003 (http://opensource.mit.edu/papers/meyer.pdf)
--haven't started to read this one, but it's about several examples of periods of industrial innovation that relied on collaborative/open systems rather than closed/proprietary. I'll be reading this next.

Open Design - Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_design)
--just a stub, but has a few links to sites that are considering this topic.

I think there's a lot of potential in it, and I'm really just thinking aloud here. I'd be interested in any ideas people have, or if anyone knows of any good resources for this type of theory.

December 29th, 2005, 02:52 PM
It's a very interesting topic, one that's been lingering in my mind for a while. I'm very interested in both how the idea of distributed development can be applied to other areas of design as a methodology, and how the general modus operandi of Free Software and open source software can be carried into daily life practices. I hadn't done any literature survey so thanks for the links; "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric Raymond can also be very inspiring.

December 29th, 2005, 04:32 PM
there's some other interesting stuff at http://opensource.mit.edu/online_papers.php

it's a lot to wade through, though.