Open Toolchain Foundation

Most of the heavy lifting to enable democratizing digital fabrication processes is done through open source software. Despite this, there are many challenges related to the uses of software across stages of the design and manufacturing workflow, for example, when transferring bits from design software to a 3D printer or a laser cutter, or even among software for the same purposes.

With this in mind, the Open Toolchain Foundation (part of the INTERFACER Project) organized a kick-off workshop at Fab City Hamburg. At the workshop, we discussed some of the possible work streams for the organization and ways to collaborate with other actors from the open software and hardware movements.

Pieter Hijma (HIWW) is one of the leading voices behind the Open Toolchain Foundation.

Some ways to be involved in this project are:

Credits: OTF

Towards Open Source Patents

These past months I had the pleasure of collaborating with the FAST team from Western University by discussing possible ways to automate the process of applying the OSHWA Certification to open source appropriate technology projects in a way that makes sense for documentarians working on Appropedia.

What is the OSHWA Certification?

Members of the open hardware community have discussed over the years to define open hardware consistently. Some of these efforts are the Open Hardware Definition, a piece that has paved the way for other communities to open their creations. Most importantly, it has helped to clarify cases where products are advertised as open hardware but lack proper documentation or supporting materials.

One of the most important steps in this direction was the OSHWA Certification. This program reviews individual projects to ensure that a project complies with the open hardware definition and some minimum documentation requirements. This certification is done at no cost and is supported by community members.

Automating the certification process

Our research consists of a tool to automate the certification by pulling metadata directly from Appropedia’s API to attain two goals: 1) to ensure that the documentation is complete, aiding the process of fulfilling the requirements of the certification form, and 2) to reduce the time required to request the certification.

Our tool (still under development) can reduce the time used to fill out the certification form by 62%, making this a viable alternative to integrate the documentation work with the certification. Furthermore, it helps documentarians to verify the quality of their knowledge product while facilitating knowledge transfer to others who will know exactly where to find pieces of documentation.

Read the article here.

Documenting and assessing open innovation

In the past, I’ve explored the uses of data models in various aspects related to documentation. More specifically, how actionable knowledge can be extracted during the documentation process and repurposed. Some examples are here and here, both in the context of open works. Some of this work materialized in, for instance, supporting the Open Know-How specification, an initiative led by the Internet of Production Alliance.

Over the past couple of years, we had the chance to support the Global Surgical Training Challenge, an initiative by the Intuitive Foundation and supported by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, MIT Solve, Challenge Works, and Appropedia Foundation. Our role consisted in aiding the processes of documentation and organization of knowledge.

One of the goals of this work is to help others as they evaluate the training modules being produced, a work that I conducted alongside my colleagues Julieta Arancio and Diego Torres. In this case, we proposed to use the documentation’s data model as a tool for evaluation. The premise is that organized knowledge can help guide the creation process. The teams can teach surgical training in any way they see fit, using low-cost simulators and knowledge content. Still, the existence of documentation guidelines can help as a self-assessment guideline to communicate their ideas more easily.

One of the resulting boards of the co-creation workshop with some of the Challenge stakeholders.

We recently published an article titled Documenting and assessing open innovation: co-creation of an open data model for surgical training in the fteval Journal for Research and Technology Policy Evaluation. This issue was focused on the evaluation of citizen science. For this reason, we expound on the value of using data models for evaluation in innovation processes that are decentralized, a common occurrence in citizen-led research processes.

Final notes on the Green Web Fellowship

For the past year, I took part in the Green Web Foundation Fellowship program, which focused on the GWF goal of a carbon-free Internet. Alongside other great members of my cohort, we explored and studied together how the Internet’s physical infrastructure and uses correspond with negative environmental impacts. As the year closes, I am happy to share some of the products of my work during this time.

Fellowship project: Digital sustainability guide

My project was aimed at addressing the knowledge gap prevalent among tech workers, especially in developing countries. As the main driving force for digital infrastructure and software, it’s important that the people behind this work are aware of the consequences of their work at a global scale, including some of the repercussions that are visible locally.

My guide, available on Appropedia, will guide you through the important aspects to consider when evaluating your employer’s digital infrastructure and practices.

Fellowship blog

You can read the blog posts we developed during the fellowship on which I share some of the ideas explored during this past year.


I had the opportunity to present my work during re:publica, in Berlin.

Branch Magazine Article

I wrote an article for Branch Magazine to expound some thoughts regarding the view of critical thinking and conscious education alongside the open movement, as a view that guided my work in this fellowship.

A chat about Open Climate with Open Future

In May, some members of the Open Climate Team (Shannon Dosemagen, Evelin Heidel, Alex Stinson, and Michelle Thorne) had the opportunity to sit down with the people from Open Future to chat about our work in bringing awareness of openness to tackle climate issues.

Banner with the words Open Climate
By Shannon Dosemagen (CC-BY 4.0)

You can see the write-up that they kindly prepared after our chat below.

re:publica workshop: Sustainability, Accountability and Power

One of the results of my work as a Green Web Foundation fellow was a workshop at re:publica, a festival in Berlin focused on digital culture. The workshop title was Sustainability, Accountability and Power: What Remote Work Means for the Gig Economy Emissions.

The description is as follows:

This workshop will discuss how learning about the digital services footprint can empower workers from the Internet gig economy in developing countries to act toward the reduction of Internet emissions. Critically reflecting on sustainability in digital services must begin by including those who experience the effects of climate change the most.


The workshop involved participants in evaluating their organizations’ digital carbon footprint to create awareness in developing countries regarding the global impact of digital-based business models.


SolariseCon 2022 was a day packed with conversations about the concept of solarpunk, a movement focused on the reimagining of a carbon-free future. From the organizers of the event:

Solarpunk imagery tends to conjure up visions of solar panels and wind farms, but this only showcases large-scale projects. What does the path towards a fossil-fuel free future look like? How might we consider decentralisation of power, in quite literal terms? Could we—and should we—consider pathways to facilitate energy-independence and autonomy at a community level?

SolariseCon 2022 Poster
SolariseCon 2022 Poster CC-BY-SA 4.0 Commando Jugendstil

During this event, I had the chance to share common views with the great Barbara Schack from the Internet of Production Alliance, Prof. Joshua Pearce from Western University, and moderated by Francesco Verso, to discuss feasible views of the future regarding appropriate technology, and most importantly, the use of solar energy.

Open Climate now!

Alongside a group of members of the open source movement, in the past few months, we have organized a series of calls that explore the intersection between the open movement and climate change. The question we pose is: how can we work together? We recently wrote an article for Branch Magazine to discuss some of the ideas behind our work.

Two global movements—open and climate—both reckoning with privilege and power in their own organizing, should seize the moment to work more intersectionally and learn from each other. The open movement with its values, community and action has the potential to greatly contribute to climate research and activism, and climate scientists and organizers should join the fight for the (digital) commons. We need open climate action, and we need it now! 

Read here.

Science literacy through community mapping

Last year I wrote about a card game that we designed to determine safe and unsafe areas in San Salvador. The game’s premise was simple: to randomize questions and prompt yes/no answers regarding points on a map, all of this done as a physical exercise by using cards. The resulting data points were put used to produce a map of perceptions. At the end of the exercise, participants evaluated the results and validated the perceptions of the community.

This past September I presented this experience at the ECSA 2020 conference. The proposal consisted of using this game as a method of developing scientific literacy among dabblers, that is, one-time participants or people with little experience in citizen science. As they navigate the experience of gathering perceptions and validating them, this process can help them solidify the concept of a hypothesis and the notion of falsifying initial perceptions about a problem. In turn, they can have a more informed view of the problem at hand, which will motivate them to participate in the future. We definitely saw this as a positive outcome of our experience.

You can see the presentation below.


Last week we had the opportunity to share some of the ideas behind Open Know-How at 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.

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