Open Source Design

I have no clue what kind of reception this idea will have among industrial designers, but I thought I’d put it out there anyway.

Anyway, in my experience with linux, firefox, and other open source software, it occured to me that the open source software movement was capable of producing some truly amazing software. So when I figured out that ID was what I wanted to do, it occured to me that open source principles could also be applied to product design. The main difference is that it would be much easier for people to contribute to a design than to software source code. Now I don’t mean to say that ID doesn’t require expertise, because I know it does. I’m just saying that it’s a lot easier for joe somebody to look at a drawing or model and suggest something than it would be for him to look at the source code for, say, firefox, and make a suggestion.

Now I’m not exactly sure how the whole thing would work together, but I have a few ideas: First, there is the idea. Now this can come from just about anywhere. The only factor deciding whether or not it is pursued is the community interest in it. Next, a few ideas about its implementation are discussed, and a few preliminary sketches are done. Then the community decides what ideas they like best, and run with them.

Now, I suppose a big question for any designer is “how could anyone make money off this?”. Well, just because an average joe can suggest stuff doesn’t mean he can draw it or even know how to implement it. A design company would just act like a hub for ideas. The idea takes shape on the website and matures as people make suggestions. The final idea still belongs to the company. Now I have no idea how all the silly patent and copywrong laws would affect this, but I’m hoping not that much.

So what do you all think? Is this a feasible idea or am I completely nuts?

It’s already happening on boards like this one, but there’s plenty of room to make it a more formal process.

What makes software so easy to opensource is that code is easy for groups to work on–it’s essentially text. For ID, we’d need collaborative visual design software. This exists in many forms today, but is proprietary and expensive.

Perhaps one of these vendors would make their software available for free if the opensource projects were philanthropic?

Here’s a great example of open source software>>

I can hardly wait for open source design!

They don’t specifically do Industrial Design, but maybe ID could be a facet of what they produce:

…am i missing something here…this sounds like every market research session i ever attended.