Open collaborative design/Intro

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Open collaborative design involves applying principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement to designing and engineering things in the physical world. The basis of this powerful development model is a mechanism called Copyleft.png 'copyleft' which uses copyright to apply terms to the use of creative works, allowing anyone to freely use, customise and build upon them. Additionally, any derivative works also inherit the same terms of use.

This principle ensures that 'copylefted' works (whether they are designs, text, artwork or computer code) become gifted to humanity, adding to an ever increasing universal 'commons'. Because this principle is to the benefit of everyone, it completely changes the way that people think about contributing their time, creativity and efforts.

For design and engineering, new generations of free and open-source computer-aided design (CAD) programs will allow people to easily design new artefacts and make use of vast quantities of 'copylefted' components, assemblies and whole artefacts from the universal commons which should make the design process very fast and help avoid the huge duplication of effort that occurs in this field today.

These principles can apply to designing the simplest things that can be made by individuals, all the way up to large-scale and complex systems of national or global infrastructure involving hundreds or thousands of people. 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 these 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 systems — and the impact on society is likely to be as great as the web has been for information.

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