Open collaborative design/Intro

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Open collaborative design involves applying principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement that provides a powerful new way to design artefacts, machines and physical systems. All information involved in creating the item is made available on the Internet – such as text, drawings, photographs and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models – so that other people can freely re-create that design, or help contribute to its further evolution.

The basis of this development model is a principle called Copyleft.png 'copyleft' which is a way of assigning terms of use to a creative work so that anyone can freely make use of it or build upon it. Often a copyleft license will state that any derivative works must inherit the same terms as well, making anything based on the original freely available too. This principle ensures that 'copylefted' items – whether they are designs, text, artwork or computer code – are effectively 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 and effort to these types of endeavour. These principles already work very effectively with many software projects, so it is not merely wishful thinking.

Open collaborative design is a nascent field that has huge potential to radically change the way we create goods, machines and solutions – not just for personal items but potentially for the material goods and infrastructure necessary in providing for the needs of the global population.