You’ve heard about open source software, and maybe even open source hardware, but Open Source Ecology takes it all to a whole new level.
Marcin Jakubowski founded Open Source Ecology after some misadventures in farming. He had completed a PhD in fusion energy when he came to the realization that he was “useless.” Now, I would debate that conclusion, given that one benefit of population and civilization is that it frees us to specialize. In any event, this sense of uselessness compeled Jakubaowski to move to Missouri and take up farming.
I grew up on a farm in Missouri, and I know just how specialized and deep the knowledge required is to just break even. It isn’t for me. Apparenly, Mr. Jakubowski also found it difficult. His main problem, aside from inadequate agricultural skill set, was the cost of repairing or replacing his machinery. So, he started working on diy machinery that would allow basic farming to go on at relatively low cost.
This search for a more sustainable model of farming led to Open Source Ecology and its current project, the “Global Village Construction Set.”
These 50 or so “open source” machines are built with materials that can be sourced locally in most places around the world and are open to adaptation. What they have so far is published in an online wiki.
This reminded me strongly of William Kamkwamba. When he was a young man, William found a guide to building a windmill in a sparce library supplied by the U.S. government in his native Malawi. He built a windmill.
How much could be done by people like William in developing nations around the world with “open source” hardware? It seems to me that this is a far better form of “open source” for rural areas with limited or no access to “the grid.” After all, what good is a laptop, even one that can be solar powered, to a young person 100s of miles from any major city?
It makes more sense to put information like what Open Source Ecology is coming up with into the able hands of people in rural areas of developing nations, and leave the software and system administration (as in Project Cauã) to their urban kin.
In other words, open source software and administration makes sense for city-dwellers, and open source hardware for people in scattered villages around the globe.
What do you think?