Why am i writing this ?
Recently got the chance to converse deeply with both professors and students at Loyola. I felt pretty bad for both the group. Nobody has a good understanding about hardware and everyone seems to float in their own pod and never get connect with each other. Simply Network effect is NULL. For the same matter i see, not many free software activists care about their hardware stuff. Its Ironic.
Just like how GLUG being a brewing place for diversity, i also do believe that open hardware activity that is happening with increasing frequency must and can reach out for more diversity. Most of us folks by default tend to image that word "hardware" is linked mostly to "electronics" and sometimes even weirdly to Arduino and its clones. Nothing wrong in that. But it makes one confine within a very specific (which is required for learning stuff). On the other hand, we tend to lose our explorative spirit and search for alternatives in other disciplines and fields of interest, when we confine with a specific thing.
Why is this important ?
1. Balance specificity in practice with explorative diversity
2. Network of ideas, mutation and generation of ideas will happen when diversity is embraced
3. With only arduino/clones or even with open electronics or even with free software we have a limitation
I do accept that we are still striding in the way to reach a progressive platform. But how do we reach it also matters.
So, please do not limit yourself with Electronics & Computers alone. Think in OPEN + Instrumentation, Communication, Network, Architecture, Structures, Bicycles, Bikes; Decentralized peer production. Only such exploration will pave the way for Open Research & Open Science. Even when we do not have sufficient resources and power to do the things we desire to try out, having an idea of about the ideas are still necessary and makes a difference.
In fact our thinking must not even only with hardware/software distinction, but it must be DESIGN thinking. Open Design would be a generic way of addressing.
Like What ?
For who like to explore and start, do take a look at the following:
- Open Ecology
- Open Structures
- Laurie Baker Arch.
- Mobile ECG
- Open Cinema
- Open Home Design
- Reprap - self regeneration/reproduction
- Open desk
- Precious plastic
And still lot more is there. Just go and explore. Hardware is not just electronics alone.
Try designing a chair (it is one of the hardest design projects afaik) !!!
Having or dreaming about a hacker-space is not great. Dreaming and making a hacker-space with free hardware and software as its DNA has its worth. The other is just a manifestation of proprietary and non-commune extreme consumer oriented facility.
Fortunately, we have now enough Free Software based tool sets and community platforms and work flows managed by special interest groups to either contribute for a particular project or fork one, modify do it and make it in real.
Like how we folk do with Blender, Synfig, we must also use tools like FreeCAD, OpenCASCADE, Sweethome3d, etc..
Wouldn't it be great to see folks from Mechanical engg, Chemical engg, Electrical, Electronics, Computer Science, IT, Economics, etc.... to sit around and makeout a project ?