Open source music hardware landscape survey | Opensource.com

Open source music hardware landscape survey

Posted 07 Nov 2011 by 

Ruth Suehle (Red Hat)
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Peter Kirn at the Create Digital Music blog wants to know about your open source hardware music projects--or even just projects you know about. He writes:

Open Source Hardware [places] everything under a license that makes it free for use. This would include the software (either running on the device, on an attached computer, or both), the schematics of the design, and even visual elements of the design, as well as the documentation. Projects that give their users the most freedom to work with any modifications they make also allow for unfettered commercial use; that is, you don’t have to worry if you sell a few, or even many, if you run afoul of the project’s original creators. Without going into the debate for or against such an approach, if this kind of sharing is your goal, then it follows it will important for you to make that freedom explicit. This sort of explicit use is also what is described in the Open Source Hardware definition, which our MeeBlip project has adopted because we feel the project and definition fit one another.

Note that there’s a very real debate about whether the ideals of free software are applicable to open source hardware. There’s no debating it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison: copying hardware means physically manufacturing something. (I’m surprised to see, in German, the use of the term Freie Hardware, which has generally been avoided in English. See also the Open Source Hardware and Design Alliance, which goes beyond some of these specific – and possibly not-really-applicable – licenses.)

I’ll say this: I think adding in the issues of economics, materials, sustainability, local manufacture, labor, distribution, and international trade make this question more compelling for discussion. It’s messier than software, yes – but given that all software relies on hardware on which to run, dealing with these messy and often demanding questions means engaging more of the many dimensions in which technology interacts with economics.

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Let’s See the Gear!

But first, we just need to find out what’s out there. And that’s where you come in. If you’ve got a project, or use a project, or just know about a project, let us know. If it’s your own project – especially if you feel we’ve ignored you in the past (trust me, you don’t want to see my inbox or brain) – now’s your chance to tell us about it.

Fill out the survey, or talk to Kirn in person today during the last day of Create. Art and Technology in Berlin.

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