I guess “NOW” is relative as the essay I wrote for Open Design Now is now at least 2 years old. But still I figured it makes sense to share. (on more than one level) I recommend reading this in the original site, but just as a backup I will publish it here as well. One of the reasons I waited with publishing it here in the blog (even though the whole book is CC-SA-BY licensed) is that the publishing model they took was to slowly publish the essays over a long period of time, one essay at a time. And the book was going from 0% open to 100% open. It’s an interesting model, certainly a compromise between the OPENESS tribe and the publisher’s concern over the INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY and the commodification of the content. Now that it is 100% open, and my essay is just slightly dated, I think it’s fair to share it here :)
I’ve been teaching a class on the subject for 3 years, I’ve been giving talks on the subject for almost a year. Finally I set down and wrote the essay for the second edition of the Collaborative Futures book. On Sunday (Aug 1st 2010) I gave a talk based on this essay at DebConf the Debian community conference. The title of the talk is “Beyond Sharing: Open Source Design”. The (high-pitch audio) presentation is available on the Debian site (requires Firefox or another OGV playing browser).
The article is now published at Smashing Magazine, please read and discuss it there (closing the comments).
Can Design By Committee Work?
The Case for Open Source Design
In celebrating the merits of Free Software and the excitement of this radical networked production method, an important truth is left unspoken. Networked collaboration shines in the low levels of network protocols, server software and memory allocation, but user interface has consistently been a point of failure. How come the networked collaboration that transformed code production and encyclopedia writing fails to transcend into graphic and interface design?
The following is an investigation into the difficulties in extending the Open Source collaboration model from coding to its next logical step, namely interface design. While it dives deep into the practical difference between these two professional fields, it might also serve as a cautious note to consider before rushing to declare the rise of “Open Source Architecture”, “Open Source University”, “Open Source Democracy”…