Should we draw a line and where? Open Source &/or Circular Economy?

today someone wrote an email to join the OSCEdays. They have a specific project and they want to use the OSCEdays to develop it further - mostly they want to document it.

The project is about a house and clearly about Open Source. But this house has nothing to do with Circular Economy. And i am not sure if the community behind the project, has thought about Circular Economy at all or have an initial interest in doing so.

So what to do? I think, of course we can add them here. They will be part of a community that thinks about CE and therefore they will learn about it and maybe apply this to their project(s). The rest of the OSCE community can learn about OS from them and their project. Since it is an OS project it probably has some Modularity in it that might be a first good step towards CE.

So i guess in this case, the answer is a bit clear. But what about similar stuff in the future? Everything about Circular Economy is welcome - we just have to Open Source it. But is also everything, that is just Open Source welcome as well, also for example a toxic process that is open sourced?

Maybe the answer is yes. Because when it is open it is open to be changed by the community. But what do you think?

It does not have to be already about circular economy if they have the willing to improve their processes according to circular economy principles. We also have a role to play to integrate circular economy processes in projects that are not aware about it.

For me, it is a no unless their challenge is to avoid this toxic process and improve it. It is actually very interesting to have this kind of project. Otherwise I would go against it. Even worst if this project has nothing to do with ecological and social values, sharing economy, economy of functionality…

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I am all for open source hardware wherever and however it happens, and I wish to support open source hardware projects however I can. However, I think for OSCEdays we need to push quite hard for teams to specifically work on a circular economy topic.

My main question when I think about whether a project is a good fit for OSCEdays is “***how does this support the aims of OSCEdays?***”

OSCEdays should be about raising awareness of the possibilities of the open source methodology when applied to the goal of a circular economy. To do this, we need to be able to precisely define the methodology and the goal. The event should hep us do that, and provide clear examples that we can point to, to convince political decision-makers, industry, media and individuals that this is a worthwhile, feasible goal and we have a proven approach to get there.

One thing we’re struggling with now, and will continue to struggle with, is being able to concisely explain our concept to the media and others - it’s very common for people to just park a new idea under an umbrella that they are already familiar with, which makes them feel like they have a good understanding of the concept.
Lars and I see this all the time when talking about open source to new people - it is often seen as just another word for DIY, despite the fact that:
a) the sharing of digital files and digital manufacturing technology allows for exponentially more, faster, better development (eg RepRap) when compared to, say, a DIY carpentry community, and
b) there are many open hardware projects (such as Apertus) where there is very little expectation that end users will build it themselves.

I am worried that when we talk about ‘Circular Economy’ there will be a similarly detrimental confusion - that people will hear ‘Circular Economy’ and think ‘Green’ or ‘Recycling’.
Yes, there is overlap, but no, it is not the same thing.

So when people look at our website, forum and press about the event, and they’re trying to get an idea of what we mean by ‘Open Source Circular Economy’ I want the projects they see to explain that concept to them. I don’t want them to see open source projects that are trying to be a bit Green - I want them to see open source projects that are building modules for reuse, that are improving life cycle analysis, that are designing for end-of-life collection & distribution of material etc…

So when I ask myself ‘does this project support our case, or is it detrimental?’, well, I don’t think it supports our case - I think it lowers the signal-to-noise ratio.

But this doesn’t mean that when motivated open hardware developers come to us, wanting to be involved, that we look at our checklists and say “No, we don’t want you”.
Instead, maybe we can develop a document or some kind of flow diagram which they can use to analyse the current state of their project, and work out where the potential for real Circular Economy development lies, and then they can work specifically on this during the event.

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I’m with @cameralibre on this. We can’t and shouldn’t include all projects. We should have a defined framework that allows us to assess whether a given project is suitable or not, and not some arbitrary decision based on whether we like the project or not. I think this framework wouldn’t be massively complex, but could ask some fundamental questions like: has a life cycle perspective been taken? have environmental/social weaknesses in the process been identified? and similarly for the open source side.

We could have projects that are in an incubation stage…with the initial challenge to achieve a certain level of osce. This is also an area where we could collaborate with Future of Waste.


Ha, good points!

I love “I think it lowers the signal-to-noise ratio.“ And you are absolutely right!

Yes. But then we will end up „rejecting“ projects. (How to do this in an open platform? But that is another question.)

But when we end up “rejecting” projects, yes, we need clear and transparent guidelines what is in and what not. Let’s develop it – maybe as a challenge. And what to do right now?

Maybe simple question as a stand-in like: „We expect you that your project has ties to open source or circular economy – preferably to both worlds – and that, when it is only in one of the worlds right now, you strive during OSCEdays to also bring it to the other.“

Shitty sentence. But you get the point. And when there is a project, we are not quite sure about, we can ask them to explain a bit about, how they plan on doing it – getting to the other side.