Interview with @BoST & OSCEdays Community for Agora Rollberg

OPEN SOURCE INTERVIEW: This is an interview between Agora Rollberg and the OSCEdays @BoST - but in the spirit of open source please everyone feel free to answer the questions.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the society today?

Where does your personal motivation come from to work with open source?

How would you explain circularity, and what does it mean to you?

What advice would you give a young soul working with open source?

Hi Nina, thanks for posting these questions here. Since we have met personally and I know it is urgent I am going to start – with my personal views. But please anyone else, share your views as well.

###(1) The biggest challenges

There are so many challenges in the world today. Do you know the famous Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times”. Well, we are living in really interesting times! No one can foresee the changes digital media will make in the world. The only thing we know, they are and will be huge. And changing the world is always … ‘interesting’ (= full of challenges).

But one of the big challenges is of course the shift to a sustainable world. Here is a copy of an answer I have given to this question before (here: ) :

'The industrial revolution and the way it happened did harm to our planet and continues to do so. Climate change and resource depletion are two problematic trends. If we continue with business as usual – our future will be less bright.

But there is a positive idea for an alternative: Circular Economy. A Circular Economy is an economy that doesn’t know waste because everything is designed for constant reuse and recycling. And the Circular Economy works in mutual elevating symbiosis with our biosphere.

A great vision! On paper. Truth is, we don’t know how to get there. Our economy is optimized to be linear – take, make, waste. And even if we would like to change. We lack the collaboration methods for a Circular Economy.’

###(2) Motivation for OS?

I am interested in what the internet can do to rebuild our economy. The web is a “transparency machine”. And Open Source is a way to do business and collaboration using this transparency possibilities. The Open Source discourse is an open door to interesting new experiments.

###(3) Circularity?

We worked in the OSCEdays a while back on our own definition of Circular Economy. We never had a final result. But this here one of the versions from this discussion. Feel free to shorten it.

Circular Economy is an (holistic) approach to the design of artefacts, systems and collaboration with the goal to build a truly socially, ecologically and economically sustainable economy.

It replaces the linear “take-make-consume-dispose” paradigm for production and consumption with a paradigm of regenerativity (or circularity) where every output of every process can always feed in as an input for a new process (and materials return after the life-cycle of a product back to another production cycle as raw materials or nutrients), making the concept of waste obsolete.

The Circular Economy aims to work in a productive, preserving and mutually elevating synergy with the biosphere and future generations, not seeing (treating) them (?) as a source for resources or subject for depletion.

It is aware of problems like externalities, over consumption and rebound effects and tries to tackle them by taking a (holistic) systems thinking approach.

Therefore the Circular Economy favours and explores – where it makes sense to reach its goals – short feedback loops, local before global patterns, durability, compatibility, upgradability and adaptability, ease of maintenance and repair, readiness for dis- and reassembly of artefacts, general standardization and the use of standards and the choice of materials that are either technically recyclable – can always be brought back without loosing quality to a fresh technical manufacturing process – or biodegradable – can be released into the biosphere without harming it, but feeding it.

The Circular Economy prefers fair and free environments for people to live and work where they are not subject to conditions that undermine their capacity to meet their needs and rather enable them to participate freely, self-determined and creatively in the invention, building and continuance a Circular Economy.’

###(4) Young Peole & OS?

My personal goal at the moment is to get into the heads of the people and students that design products and systems. Because I think most products have to be designed and set up differently to work as Open Source (and also Circular) Products. Think about these products as platforms! Think about Open Ecosystems around them. You don’t have to invent a product. You have to invent a new ecosystem for it. This is what it makes so difficult (because you can’t learn this from most products you are surrounded by everyday).

This is the reason I created the Open Platform Design Flowchart – a simple tool to map out an Open Source Circular Product and Business Model


This is Gien, I’m on OSCEDays Board of Stewards. I’ll make an attempt to answer from my perspective.

What are the biggest challenges you see in the society today?
We are like the frog in warm water and temp is rising. We’re still too comfortable with the small incremental levels of harm and are not mobilizing at the scale required of us. Our response is far too small for the problem we are dealing with. As Prof Kevin Anderson of Tyndall Centre says, we need to peak emissions in a few years then drop at unheard of rate of approx. 10% per annum. This can only be done by rapid demand side reduction because supply side changes cannot scale rapidly to replace fossil fuel infrastructure.

Society needs a nonlinear, outside-the-box jolt to kick demand side reductions into high gear. It will come from efforts like OSCEDays and others to compliment the inside-the-box solutions.

We have to be very conscious of our own perceived comfort,… just like the frog that just feels the water getting slightly warmer.

Where does your personal motivation come from to work with open source?
Open source is a new word for an old concept. If there was no open source, science would not be possible. Corporate science, at the scale that it exists today is a fairly recent phenomena. If we did not share knowledge, human beings could not progress as far as we have. It’s only through an OS attitude that we generate the best quality knowledge. If you and I are cooperating on a project, but I don’t trust you, then I will hold back my full knowledge. Maybe I’ll share the lower quality or more ordinary ideas, but keep the good ones a secret. If there is low social capital between us, that is the opposite of Open Source and in this kind of space, a competitive space, we withhold valuable knowledge from each other. This is the normal competitive, what I call ME-centric space. This is the normal space of the world where we are afraid to share with others because we are afraid they will predate and steal our idea. Then we cannot create a livelihood out of it. Because everyone does it, then it has a strong tendency to suck you into the same competitive mindset.

On the other hand, if we can co-create a space of authentic trust, then we have great enthusiasm to share freely, and in such a space, really amazing things can happen. Have you experienced this before? I have, many times. In such a space, you are in a dance with the other co-creators, each one stimulating new ideas from the other in an ever increasing crescendo of creativity. That is when truly novel ideas are born. Without a collective space that holds this kind of trust, we cannot bring out the best ideas. This then becomes a co-creative process that brings the best out of people and also naturally brings out the bliss in people. It is this kind of co-creative dance that brings out the best of human beings and makes creating together a deeply joyous experience. Open Source is, then a WE-centric worldview, in which we help each other to succeed. We are on a journey together.

OS can even power the entire economy but that requires people to see beyond deeply enrenched capitalist, ME-centric behavior. This is not easy to do because so many people have had things and ideas stolen from them and this makes people defensive and protective. A totally OS society is possible but it requires everyone to trust and participate. Fear holds people back but I believe that there are ways to develop pilot projects of small WE-centric communities that can prove that OS economy can work.

How would you explain circularity, and what does it mean to you?
Take the head of the arrow, twist it around 180 degrees until it points back to the start of the arrow, and you’ve got circularity! Material flows that have a start point and an end point, usually start = raw resource and end = garbage are linear material flows. Circularity or circular material flows mean garbage = resource. You’ve loop the garbage back to the resource. In other words Garbage IS resource. It’s just that when it’s transformed after usage and reaches end of life, it no longer looks valuable. So the forms appear different, but circular design is when you insert a stage between garbage and resource that turns garbage back into resource. It removes the masquerade and says “AHA! I recognize you! You aren’t garbage after all! but instead, you are resource in disguise!” The other thing to make it truly circular is redesign so that what is considered garbage can be easily transformed through simple low energy, low carbon processes back into resource. So there is a new definition of “Garbage”. It just means a product that has reached the end of its life.

What advice would you give a young soul working with open source?
Don’t be naive about open source but also don’t fall for the status quo and simplistic understanding that traps you into thinking that there’s no way to sustain a livelihood with it. Think about it from a systems perspective. Get to the root of what it really means so you can see the potential it offers to transform society. If your mind is lazy, you won’t see it. You have to make some effort because there is a lot of misconception you have to power through and filter out. Becaue it is not mainstream, your brain has to work harder to understand its potential.

The simplistic understanding is: It’s free, how do you make money with it? Even a lot of people who participate in Open Source don’t get its full potential either. The potential of Open Source to transform society is enormous, and largely untapped at this point. To see how it can lead to a compassionate, efficient and truly democratic society, you have to think outside the box. Through my own experiences, I feel it is very promising as a powerful way to transform society. We can all be living in an uplifiting world powered by open source systems that can support the livelihood of many more people. Hope that helps!

Bwell !

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Hi, I’m Maike, I’m also on the BoST and I my perspective on OSCE comes from historical conflict studies, Transition Towns Movement and Permaculture

What are the biggest challenges you see in the society today?
How will we live well in the future when resources and energy become scarce and the climate changes? What will we eat? How will we live? What and how will we produce? How will we organise distribution? How can people manage all this change that is necessary without feeling completely lost, panicking or wasting their time on wars in defense of a lifestyle past?

Where does your personal motivation come from to work with open source?
The challenges to create a sustainable lifestyle are so great that we can only find the solutions to these challenges in cooperation. The collaboration that is essential for our survival past the next 50 years cannot work on a proprietary basis.
Open Source means we share our effort, knowledge, questions, ideas and solutions to enable the change at the pace that is needed.

How would you explain circularity, and what does it mean to you?
We humans are part of the perennial cycle of matter, so everything we release into the environment comes back to us, through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. To protect a clean environment is to protect myself. We are completely dependent on the web of life on our planet, to provide water, food, shelter and energy. To protect intact ecosystems means I ensure my own future and that of my child.
Circularity means that we understand our position in the web of life: we ourselves are ecosystems, we take part in ecosystems, and to manipulate ecosystems means that we manipulate ourselves.

What advice would you give a young soul working with open source?

  • be humble: your idea may be great, but it will become even greater if you allow others to develop it further. This is not about who had the idea, it’s about finding the best way! If you find that your idea makes it in the world: be proud, even if noone knows that it was yours. It should be enough for you that you know.
  • be open: what may look like someone is taking your idea the wrong way can turn out to be the beginning of a great new idea, even if it doesn’t resemble what you had in mind. It’s a bit like having children: Once you allow your ideas to roam free, you never know what they will become when they grow up.
  • collaborate: you don’t need all the answers, all you need are the right questions so that others may know parts of the answer and you can piece them together. That’s the beauty of collaboration.
  • use cc licences and stay alert to attempts to privatize your work to profit someone else: cc licences are the only way we have to protect the openness of our work. This does not mean, that noone should ever make a living from Open Source businesses, but it means that everyone should get the chance to do so.

1 - What are the biggest challenges you see in the society today?

I consider that one of the most important challenges for today’s society is to understand the planetary limits that depend and are being affected by our production and consumption models; The society does not want to be responsible for the damage that is infringing on the environment, it only expects that the companies change and take the responsability for developing the products or services: how they do it is their problem but at the hands of the consumer the product must Become (or not) totally sustainable. Recently i discussed it in a class, and we found that the consumer (Latin American) still did not understand the environmental impact very well and how each product could affect it, was simply dedicated to selecting the one that is more economical or famous, without deepening in other aspects, like if it was produced locally or use sustainable processes or materials and is Sad because until recently at least in our country, the selection of products was based its duration, if you see possibilities for easy maintenance or that there was a technical service that would allow you to repair it quickly and easily. Now the disposability is being implemented in all products.

2 - Where does your personal motivation come from to work with open source?

I think it’s due in part to the interest and pursuit of learning. From an early age I realized that only through the exchange of information with others, learn and adapt is achieved much faster and allows us to have very enriching experiences. I’m not very good at programming, so I’ve never been able to modify open source software, but its philosophy get in deep in my work, and brings this to the the team work, how we work and develop products. I believe open source product development models allow the student or professional to work better, be more efficient and develop products that can adapt quickly to different environments and situations.

3 - How would you explain circularity, and what does it mean to you?

For me means to look for that each of the resources, actors, flows and other elements of a system (open, which is how they should be analyzed) is taken into account in the way that never leaves elements that affect or become subproducts that, When not being used, end up affecting the environment, or actors that do not manage to be a useful part of the system. Without circularity any productive process or project becomes a generating element of high impact in the aconomic model to benefit only one group and generating much damage in others, in the social aspect to impact or not really benefit the communities that inhabit the spaces that Are affected by The introduction of this process, and finally the environment, since we think that we are beings outside the inhabited space, the ecosystem, and we often see it as something primitive, without value, but that ends and will ends up affecting us and they who come after.

4 - What advice would you give a young soul working with open source?

In a world that drives you to work alone, to fight and compete with other in a battle, go against this and work in and as a team, share, develop and strengthen your projects learning from the community, the environment and Nature, and always with a mind willing to seek knowledge for all. In this way the projects will grow faster and be strengthened in mutual knowledge, and above all that they always seek the benefit for all, including the planet.


Thank you so much for all of your great answers!