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 objects, 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 and this completely changes the way that people think about contributing their time, creativity and efforts to collaborative projects.

These new principles are leaking out from the domain of software where they emerged into the physical world. For design and engineering, new generations of open-source computer-aided design programs (CAD) will allow people to easily construct new things and make use of vast libraries of components, assemblies or whole artefacts from the universal commons which will make the design process far faster, and will avoid 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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