Monday, March 14, 2011

"Yes, We're Open" A Vision on Open Design

This set of principles (above) comes from an exhibition put together by Intrastructures out of Belgium who are exploring how a networked society is reshaping the way we create, consume, and produce.

Thomas Lommee has provided a short manifesto on what it means to design for open standards or to design for adaption. He provides a nice overview: "Today, the pro-active consumer is no longer judging an object for what it is but rather imagines what it could become [I would add that they also see an object in terms of what goals they want to achieve ie. people don't buy a drill because they want the machine; they buy a drill because they want the hole.]. The objects themselves are starting to behave more and more like dynamic puzzles, self-improving product versions rather than rigid monoliths. This shift from product to process allows the product to be adapted over time according to personal needs and flavors."

He's quick to recognize that open standards are already ubiquitous from the internet itself to manufacturing specs that permeate society (eg. a lightbulb used here will work there as well). He's making a new proposal though--that we need to give up the myth of "creating something completely new" or "something that hasn't been done" and transition into a willingness to dissolve into larger projects where we facilitate others and collaborate for shareable outcomes and possibilities. The focus shifts from building that one ideal, proprietary object or service to the development of open standards platforms or systems that enable citizens to do as they need or want with what they have at their disposal.

Using a simple example: Instead of developing strategies that brand and sell people the newest, most unique article of clothing, provide them a standard item or material and accompany it with patterns, directions, a community, etc. they can draw from, so they can define and develop "clothing" (ie. content) and "newness" for themselves. Not everyone wants to do this of course, but in our growing networked society, we've tipped towards a world of interlocking co-producers who find this a much more enticing approach to production and consumption, and in my opinion, community building.

Case in point:
Pamoyo--open source fashion label out of Berlin

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