Open collaborative design/Intro

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Open collaborative design involves applying the highly successful free and open-source software methodology to the design of machines and systems in the physical world, employing a principle called Copyleft.png 'copyleft'. This applies special terms to the use of the creations allowing anyone to freely use them, customise them, or build upon them, and additionally any derivate works must also inherit the same terms of use. So 'copylefted' works, whether they are designs, text, artwork or computer code, become permanently gifted to humanity.

The principle of copyleft completely changes the way that people think about contributing their time, creativity and efforts to these projects because it is contributing to a huge universal 'commons' available to everyone, that many others similarly contribute to. What goes around, comes around.

These new collaborative principles are gradually leaking out from the domain of free and open-source software software into the physical world. For design and engineering, new generations of open-source CAD programs will allow people to easily construct their own designs and make use of vast libraries of components, assemblies or whole artefacts from the universal commons, making the design process much faster and avoiding the huge duplication of effort that occurs in this field today.

These design principles can apply to the simplest things that can be made by individuals, all the way up to large-scale and complex systems of national or global infrastructure. Because the designs are not closed or proprietary, people are encouraged to contribute knowing their involvement not only benefits themselves but anyone else who chooses to use the results of their efforts.

Giving the designs physical form will be fast and easy due to emerging high-speed, flexible manufacturing techniques. As a result the open design ecosystem will effectively become an internet for physical objects — and its impact is likely to be as great as the web has been for information.

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