FabXLive

July 25, 2020

Last week we had the opportunity to share some of the ideas behind Open Know-How on the FabXLive conference. Open Know-How is a metadata standard envisioned by Andrew Lamb from Massive Small Manufacturing, and developed by a neat group of open hardware enthusiasts.

From the session’s description:

The COVID-19 pandemic was addressed by a surge of open source projects made by makers around the world. As a result of these decentralized and hasty efforts, users have been overwhelmed by a variety of redundant ideas, as well as a lack of complete and standardized documentation. This will be mainly a documentation workshop on which we will explore the Open Know-How Standard.

During the workshop we will learn how to make OKH Manifest files and use it to document and evaluate medical designs for COVID-19 around the web. We will use this information to learn how to effectively discover, compare and select the best projects from a list of devices. As a final activity, we want to discuss the possibility to apply Open Know-How for a wider variety of applications in the maker community.

Check the workshop documentation here.

AWEsome Interview

July 14, 2020

Is it possible to draw socially-minded people into social innovation? How can we scale sustainable solutions in our local settings? Check some of the answers in this video prepared for the Awesome Business Competition.

#FabDoesNotWait

June 7, 2020

Global Fab Talks was the first event in a series of global conversations on the response displayed by the global Fab Lab network to the pandemic, organized by the Fab Foundation and the Latin American Fab Lab Network.

Collaborative Innovation for Future Resilience

May 21, 2020

I had the chance to share space with the founders of great innovations and other experts on a Virtual Roundtable organized by Wikifactory, in relation to how innovation can build resilience for the current COVID-19 pandemic.

https://twitter.com/wikifactory/status/1258040900736946178

The amount of inventive designs and the grassroots manufacturing happening around the world has brought maker communities into a global spotlight, and now we need to start wondering where do we go from here. Can makers worldwide handle the pressure and requirements of such an important task?

You can watch the video here.

#DigitalOrganizing

April 27, 2020

Tomorrow, I will be taking part of an event organized by NOVACT (International Institute for Nonviolent Action). The event aims to share experiences on related to the uses of technology in ways that protect human rights and personal privacy.

My participation will represent Appropedia, and will focus on how appropriate technology can be used around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of connecting with real needs in communities.

Más información

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AWEsome Competition Keynote

April 25, 2020

Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to visit Arcata CA to speak about Latin American experiences in technology and community development. The keynote was part of the Awesome Business Competition, an event focused on agriculture, energy and water projects in California.

This was a great personal experience due to the fact that it gave me the chance to reminisce on my personal work over the past five years, as well as the great things that my colleagues have done in this time. The main thread of my professional experience is, basically, that you don’t need to be successful from a personal perspective in order to create impact in the world; perhaps that is even better.

Please take your time to enjoy the keynote and let me know your thoughts over Twitter.

Open hardware from Academia

February 15, 2020

During the first week of February, a group of researchers and users of open hardware in academic contexts gathered in Bath to discuss topics that relate to hardware development, documentation, licensing and the involvement of academia with the open source community in general.

Please check the notes of our sessions at the OHAC2020 Gitlab Repository.

Parking Space Wars

October 17, 2019

This is a story that I wasn’t planning on telling anyone, but I was invited recently to propose a technological project that relates to traffic issues, which are very severe in my city. This brought this to my mind. The story begins with me waking up very early so I could arrive around 6 a.m. every morning to work.

I had a different, but related problem at the same time, due to a lack of parking spots at the office where I worked some time ago. A person bought a new car and decided to start taking my sport, which was conveniently located right next to the office’s entrance.

I was having none of that, so we started this passive-aggresive (but friendly) competition for this parking spot. Soon, a few people followed suit in seeking this parking space, including my boss (who is also one of my best friends). I started then registering data on Twitter to make it a bit more fun. The logic was as follows:

  • A hashtag (#s) to record my departure and arrival times.
  • Another one to register the result (W = win, L = lose).
  • A time modifier in case it was necessary (i.e. I had forgotten to record data on time).

Take this tweet for example, on a day with a loss (they were painful!)

My friend were having a good time with it:

In the end, I used Twitter’s API to fetch and R to analyze the data. Did I learn something? Not really from the data, but from using simple modifiers on Twitter to record activity and results. I think that a useful application can be used to encode situations like those of disaster response.

Metadesign and participation

June 1, 2019

This May I had the chance to develop some ontology work as a workshop at the Creative Commons Summit in Lisbon. The goal was to present some of the ideas on the subject, some of which I have already written about.

The session had a very varied group, which was nice. OSH seems to have a very boad audience that spans various domains: engineers, lawyers, etc. No wonder many of us see it as the next big milestone for the open movement.

My favorite part of the session was when a lawyer at the session (I am sorry, can’t remember you name!) conspicuously said that the idea sounded very much like a proposal for a patent. That was awesome, because it was one of the intentions that I had for this: that a conceptual definition of a thing or artifact could help categorize and .

The second part of the session involved the use of real hardware documentation. A set of predetermined metadata fields was given to each table which participants moved around to sort and define an ontology. This approach helped members with different views around what OSH is to use the terms that were most important to their domain. In the end, what an artifact is can be discussed by those who will make use of it to differentiate and categorize.

If you want to know a bit more about this session, feel free to review the presentation:

Check the session notes as well; these were taken by Lucy Patterson (thank you!).

Card Catalog by Glyn Lowe on Flickr - https://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/8495349616/

Towards an Ontology of the Open

March 17, 2019

One idea has been forming in my mind over the past year, as a combination of different experiences that I’ve seen over different communities dedicated to open content, and how the same problem of documentation affects all communities alike.

  1. The first one is Creative Commons. One thing that I noticed was how useful the use of metadata was to gather and classify information through one of the biggest content “donors“, The Met. Creative Commons has this great wealth of information, searchable not only because 375,000 are available, but because there is existent metadata to do so. When you consider open works in the wild, the use of metadata is dependant of the platform on which it is uploaded, which means that works in data silos are more likely to contain metadata. One idea that came up during an interview with Creative Commons was related to how we transport data from one medium to another. If I go to a rural area to create art with children, can I think of making a metadata card that can be easily translated into the language of digital?
  2. Open hardware was my second entry point, due to the difficulty of determining what an open hardware project is. Compared to a book, a piece of hardware is comprised of different things: hardware, software, documentation and sometimes outside tools; therefore, it is more than the sum of its parts. But it doesn’t really sum because its elements are somewhat dislocated, although in principle, they interact with each other through the element’s interaction with the physical world. So the question remains: how can we define a particular element of open hardware? The OSHWA Certification is doing a great job in determining whether a particular group of elements constitute open hardware. The question that arises is whether metadata can help classify open hardware works in a way that it can even be useful for patent examiners to review prior art from open works, even those who are not part of a repository. That would mean that works can be decentralized and at the same time indexable, just like web pages.
  3. Finally, a solution comes from how some software and data projects on the web have come to use data schemas to make their content structured, easy to classify and standardized on the web. There are different types of schemas and taxonomies, as many as types of data that can be found.

It really makes sense that if libraries, museums and software have a standardized set of metadata tags that can be used to classify and organize creations, open works should follow suit. The question is: how and when will this happen?