Linkdump: October 2014

Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2014

For Lady Ada Lovelace Day, we would like to celebrate some of the women working in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics that we got to meet and spend time with at Maker Faire New York this year.

Homemade dresses picture
Our friend AnnMarie Thomas had just released her book Making Makers, and was speaking several times during the faire, including hosting the Making Makers panel I participated in, as well as assisting her daughters, Sage and Grace, in presenting a Squishy Circuits workshop.

Also on the Making Makers panel was Sophi Kravitz, who was showing her WobbleWorld virtual reality experience.

Dyeing
Patricia Miranda of Alchemical Tech was there again this year teaching dye-making. I reluctantly declined her offer to get my hands dirty.

Jenine Bressner, who has been sharing her glassworking and laser textile projects at Maker Faire for years, was there as an attendee, finally getting a well-deserved chance to see the faire.

astronomical quilting
Emily Fischer of Haptic Lab was displaying her beautiful astronomical quilts.

NYSci costume making workshop Peggy Monahan of NYSci was helping run a costume design workshop with low cost, easy to use materials like plastic tablecloths, butcher paper and snow-cone cups. Many people bedecked with dinosaur spikes and other fanciful accessories could be seen roaming the faire.

Othermill Representing Othermachine and demonstrating the Othermill was their project and support engineer, our friend Simone Davalos.

Fellow electronics shop owner and friend Cheryl Hrynkiw of Solarbotics was demonstrating their projects, like the solar marble machine.

Rachel Meyer, Selena Ahmed, and Ashley Duval of Shoots & Roots Bitters are three scientists who care about culturally important plants, and bring their stories to people through their uniquely blended bitters.

Sharon Shattuck of Eavesmade was selling laser cut and engraved coasters and ornaments of scientists. You can find her sets of women heroes of science coasters and ornaments in her etsy shop.

Toward the end of the faire, we ran into Limor Fried of Adafruit. It was great to catch up with her and hear about the great strides her electronics business has been making.

There were many more women there showing amazing projects. If I left out someone you want to celebrate, please feel free to share about them in the comments.

Making Makers Book

AnnMarie Thomas has just released her book Making Makers: Kids, Tools, and the Future of Innovation. She interviewed many notable makers for this book, including Dean Kamen, Leah Buechley, Luz Rivas, and Nathan Seidle. I’m thrilled to be included in this group of fascinating people. It is available through Amazon for Kindle now, and paper copies are shipping September 25.

Linkdump: September 2014

CMYK coaster

Linkdump: August 2014

Linkdump: July 2014

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko nucleus

Open Discussion: Best Practice for Mislabeled Open Source Projects?

non-oshw

In looking around for examples of great open source hardware projects, we came across an unexpected number of projects and products labeled as open source hardware that, upon closer inspection, actually turn out not to meet the definition. Often, they’re using an inappropriate license— typically a “non-commercial license,” which is not only unenforceable but explicitly incompatible with open source values. Sometimes, they haven’t released the design files. Sometimes, a person has apparently misused the term “open source” to mean “closed and proprietary.” And sometimes you might see the open hardware logo used without any substance to back it up.

But what (if anything) can or should be done about it? We’d like to solicit your input as to the best ways to approach this problem.  Perhaps there are not any easy answers.

As a baseline, we think that it’s important to address the problem, and to do so earlier rather than later. To mislabel a product for sale as open source hardware may constitute false advertising, illegal in the US under state and federal law. In noncommercial projects where nothing is for sale, misusing the terms may help to set precedent that can damage the community’s understanding of open source. For instance, if enough people see non-commercial licenses on things labeled as be open source, they may assume that it is acceptable.

If you happen to know someone behind the project, you might consider contacting them directly to start a dialog about what it means for something to be “open source.”  Or, you could (hint hint hint) send them a link to this article, letting them know that you found it interesting!

But, what if you don’t have any personal connections to the people involved? It’s certainly not as easy. Sometimes you can initiate a dialog with a company, perhaps by asking about their design files or licenses. At the other end of the spectrum, people sometimes bring up options like public shaming. In our view, shaming is harmful to the open source community, and should be considered a last resort akin to violence. Rather, we as a community need to work towards positive ways to nudge people toward doing the right thing.

Please let us know what you think: what should you do when you come across a project mislabeled as open source hardware?

It’s Just Math

image by Bryan Kennedy
I loved this little piece by Bryan Kennedy titled “It’s just wood.” A concise philosophical statement about the freedoms that come along with knowing how to make things.

The same approach applies in so many different contexts.  Sometimes, it’s just aluminum, just software, or just silicon. It also reminds me of what a physics professor of mine used to say when explaining how simple something was: “It’s just math.”