Explosion: After the Online TED Talk

The development behind the scenes has been tremendous since my TED Talk went online. In case you missed it, here is the talk:

Here is an update on some of the developments.

I will start on the organizational side.

On an organizational note, I’d like to share a note on the evolution of this project from its inception. It’s a stormy time indeed at present – as we are in a phase of rapid growth. Lots of shuffling around is occurring as a large number of people are approaching the project, and as the project evolves its procedures and standards. This has started happening seriously ever since my TED Fellows distinction, and went wild after my TED Talk came out. Right now, there have been several new True Fans subscribing every day.

We’re trying to reorganize, and I see one distinct problem: I am dragged into most of the developments on the internet, communications, organizational, and other fronts – instead of continuing on my core competency of technology integration: design and prototyping.

To address this, I’d like to suggest this for those entering the project. First, fill out the Team Culturing Survey if you are going to collaborate. Since this is an open source project, these Surveys (published here) help to introduce you to the rest of the development team. Then, please propose how you’d like to be involved. By now, our paper trail is so extensive, that anyone coming in should be able to understand what we’re doing, how we’re doing, and how they should fit. To understand this, we have the Crash Course, Blog, Wiki, Website, and media/interviews. The blog contains the complete temporal evolution of the project, and most of the relevant material from the wiki is discussed on blog posts. There are hundreds of videos, and the continuing reading of the blog should show the evolution of the project and its philosophy. The positioning strategy has shifted from that of resilient communities (this tends to attract doomsday advocates, ecovillagers, rebels) to community-based solutions of reinventing local production (this tends to attract a more universal audience). It’s about ending artificial scarcity, but we’re still struggling with clear messaging. Our forte is promoting a truly appropriate technology usage pattern in society which does not require going back to the stone age, while being regenerative to the environment and to people.

The applications of the GVCS span all sectors and continents. We have a broad mission – summarized by completion of the GVCS by 2012, first working post-scarcity community created by 2014, and viral replication by 2016. We start with hardware for living and working, and end with integrated humans. We foresee a totally different economic playing field by 2016 as a nominal time-frame, and the Open Capitalist Platform is the latest twist on a methodology for development.

So if people really want to join the project, they should not be asking me about it after they look at a few pages in 5 minutes. Instead, they should spend at least a few full days reading back blog post from the present backwards, and start to see a pattern emerging. Then you should have a good idea of how you can contribute to the project and remain in alignment with its core vision. I am looking for people who have a sound direction and can take initiative consistent with our core values, such that I’m not dragged away from my work.

Just a week or so ago we were working on developing a donor relations package. It turned out that I ended up writing a lot of it. Then it occurred to me: “Wait a minute, I should not be writing that. Someone else should be writing it.” I tend to get waylaid like that from my core competency. So I assert now, that when you enter the project, you will have to fill in the things that I should not be doing. I am noticing a pattern of getting sucked in – which means simply that our team needs to be upgraded such that others are taking the full responsibility for the work, and I cease do to others’ work or to micromanage. We need a competent team of collaborators.

I try to communicate my state of mind and intentions with full transparency, so you should get a really good feeling for what it is about. Some people are wired to ‘get it’ pretty quickly. Others take weeks and months to see the message, and many never see the message at all. How should we improve our communications so people can gain a quicker understanding?

I’ve put my full time effort into this project since I finished grad school in 2004. The Factor e Farm blog was started in 2007. Many well-meaning people try to waylay me on this mission, so my goal is to stay focused on the goal. I feel that the project is on track right now.

To get back to the point, I’m inviting everybody who is capable of contributing to the project to positions of leadership. But not as a subordinate – but as a co-creator. That means a lot of responsibility falls on you.

Let me make this point explicit: do not ask me to pay you to keep you around – as a general rule. Do ask, however, how you can find ways that you are generating such value – not only for yourself, but also for moving the project forward. I am committed to not getting the project into the trap of the Welfare State mentality. That does not help to create the next, more benign economy – as both communism and monopoly capitalism show that this does not work.

That means join us, at the highest levels, if you have the commitment to do the work to make your role in the project self-sustaining economically. I like to say to people, quit everything that you are doing right now if that is possible, and join this project, as it is very important. That’s what I did upon starting this project.

Since we’re in vogue right now, there’s so many ways to leverage our current position to generate support. There is the hot publicity on the one hand – and the growing production capacity on the other. Hundreds of people could already be fully supported financially from this work if they chose to. And it will happen soon.

Since I believe in a decentralized organization, I will not be building a huge organizational infrastructure that can become an inefficient bureaucracy. I favor a light and agile structure in the nature of the distributive, open source ethic. We are in the business of distributive economics creation: our metric of success is how many people we can help to generate economically significant activities. When I say that open source is the next trillion dollar industry – I am serious in my commitment to develop or help develop the model of distributive production where we all work together to create open design, such that we can all have access to creating wealth – by reinventing local, responsible production by a huge number of economic agents worldwide. I am convinced that we can move beyond material scarcity as the underlying force in human relations, and that war can soon be a thing of the past. It’s our choice.

So that’s my collaboration manifesto. Join us, and challenge yourself to take on a significant role in moving this work forward. I am looking for serious people to step up to the plate. Email me at opensourceecology at gmail dot com if you are that person.

If you like what you read here – consider subscribing – we are almost at the 300 True Fanships mark.

Now to the technical side.

Note: we need systems engineers on the team. For overall status, see the Master Index. Note that a lot of the designs still require mapping out of the systems design – meaning evaluation of all the different options for making something work. There is a number of choices in design – and the systems engineering puts all the choices together towards a particular instance. That means a design of the entire system – hardware, software, compenents, functions. This is not so important for pure mechanical devices such as tractors, but it becomes increasingly important for things like the induction furnace or industrial robot – where there are many choices that can be made. Given that we are working on developing a minimum set with the highest flexibility, we wills specify multipurpose components that get the job done, with the requirement that high productivity is still achieved. We need to pick the most robust choices, as filtered through OSE Specifications. This means that we will come up with a non-standard approach compared to industry standards. Note also: SME=Subject Matter Expert; DPV=Dedicated Project Visit

  1. CNC Torch Table – New Gecko drive arrived yesterday. $800 materials cost is determined for 4×8 foot torch table; interested in the USB-based Open Capitalist Controller. Needs: millable circuit design for controller.
  2. Open Source Tractor – Producing Prototype III; producing CAM files with Will. Needs: shakedown of digital fabrication strategy.
  3. Power Cube – Prototype III being developed; minor adjustment of structure; proof of concept is acceptable. Needs: CAD drawings for modified prototype.
  4. Bulldozer – identified a subject matter expert helping on metal-to-metal track drive and motor coupling. Needs: motor coupling and direct drive design. Design and fabrication of high-torque, direct drive hydraulic motors.
  5. CEB Press – Production run of 4 machines; full fabrication drawings being prepared by Rick Berry, hopefully within 2 weeks. Needs: replication by others.
  6. CEB Press controllerfirst independent replication. Needs: circuit milling of controller. 3D printing of circuit mounts.
  7. Open Source Car – working on Urbee-like design, but hydraulic hybrid drive. Needs: continuing of collaboration discussion with Urbee leadership; they expressed interest in open-sourcing their platform.
  8. 50 kW Wind identified as a group who can source older 50-500kW turbine plans for machines from the 1980s. Needs: followup contact with Onawi. Other backup options.
  9. Solar Concentrator – negotiating with Solar Fire and Cohabitat Group on solar electric-greenhouse-house autonomous food/energy/housing system. This is not the scalable linear Fresnel design of interest, but makes a good prototype because the Solar Fire has a proven reflector/collector system at $2000 materials cost for 30 square meters of collector surface. Needs: resultion of hailstorm damage, mirror cleaning, and solar tracking.
  10. CNC Multimachinedesign phase in progress. Needs: CAD design. prototyping – remote or as a Dedicated Project Visit. Fabrication of hydraulic motors and pumps will be our first major technological recursion endeavor using the Multimachine. This is not a Pat Delaney Multimachine but a specific instance designed for high replicability. Looking for collaboration with Delaney group.
  11. Open Capitalist Platform – This could be a huge step towards the scalable open source product development. First step would be to systems engineer this platform and communicate it as a comprehensive block diagram.
  12. Industrial Robot – We are considering acquiring these robots and documenting the control procedure as applied to torching and welding.  LinuxCNC can handle the controls. From this experience, build a prototype with hydraulic drive for high torque. Needs: SME with experience in hydraulic-drive industrial robots.
  13. Induction Furnace1200W open source version identified; investigating generation of variable frequency. Needs: comprehensive systems engineering of design, broken down according to the Open Capitalist Platform for product development. Evaluating 1200W kit as initial testbed without frequency control.
  14. Modern Steam Engine – collaborating on a 7 hp steam engine kit; found sources of piston rings. Engine should be available in August, but does not follow OSE Specifications. Needs: Uniflow, bump valve design modern engine should be designed from the ground up for scalability. Looking for systems engineer to integrate this from SACA resources.
  15. Universal Power Supply – subject matter expert on power inverter identified. Needs: system engineering design for breakdown according to the Open Capitalist Platform.
  16. CNC Circuit Mill – evaluating SnapLock CNC as our platform; open source stepper motor controller – leaning towards Open Capitalist Controller. Needs: Systems design from hardware choice to software.
  17. 3D Scanner – Thad Getterman is exploring computer vision applications. We are interested in an open source version of the David 3D Scanner system. Needs: system engineering strategy
  18. CEB Construction – 3000 square foot workshop continuing where we left off last year – building starting July 1; professional construction drawings for CEB Nanohabitat units for Factor e Farm – collaboration with Cohabitat Group. Needs: architecture detail design drawings
  19. Education – potential collaboration with Angola University – first university in Angola. Needs: funding to develop the rest of the GVCS so we have the substance to teach about.
  20. Public Relations – negotiating with Leifur Thor of California regarding role as spokesperson. Needs: Others taking initiative in learning about us to the point that they could speak on our behalf to generate support and resources. High public speaking and networking abilities are required.
  21. Fabrication – production run ongoing; 3 fabricators coming next month; expected to last until May 31. Needs: more capable people on site.
  22. ConferencesFoo Camp June 10-12, and Maker Faire Detroit July 30-31 are now on my calendar, and possibly TEDxKC on August 18.
  23. Technical Director – There is a wealth of individuals approaching the project currently. We are looking for a full time Technical Director to collaborate on development.  This is not a hiring opportunity but a collaboration opportunity. We are looking for exceptionally motivated individuals with a systems engineering and project management experience, and with familiarity with open source culture. In absence of these skills, we are willing to entertain exceptional individuals who have exceptional problem-solving skills. We are providing the branding and identity of Open Source Ecology, and the collaborator is expected to generate progress on and support for the project to make their activity self-supporting. The goal is to leverage existing resources as a technological integrator, by working with diverse SMEs on design and prototyping work. The main deliverable is developing and implementing an initial design of the Open Capitalist Platform, and developing a strategy for making it self-supporting via the contributions of direct stakeholders. Full time commitment is required.
  24. Resource Developers – We are looking for a number of individuals worldwide to develop resources for the project either via the nonprofit sector or via private, voluntary contributions. The first task is generating a resource development materials package, with media developed under the guidance of our media director.


  1. sonja corterier


    I am sorry, I am not only no engineer, engines and wood are the materials/concepts that I have a deep abiding trouble to understand. After I did watch that talk and was blown away by the fact that somebody did this I – of course checked your wiki site. there were two things that truck me: the absence of a ‘needle’ maker (needles of all kinds, medical and regular sewiing) Which MUST be a difficult task but also the absence of sewing machines and looms. Is that because you are suggesting more reuse? or because ‘sewing’ isn’t part of your mindset 😉 (If we are talking sustainable industrial life they SHOULD enter however, I get that that isn’t on teh forefront of things. BTW there is no need for anything but the most assemblyline sewing machines to be powered by electricty, I wish I could get myhands on an old Sinnger or Pfaff. My grandmother (may she rest in peace) even ‘adjusted’her electric one, so that she could power it with her feet. The loom suggestion came from a discussion with another ‘interested’ consumer, though I would suggest that looms and spinning wheels are still around in the preindustrial design stage for private use. BUt teh question is, how much of housekeeping tools are you having considered? (this is not a critizism at all, I admire the entire concept and teh gung ho attitude, I am merely inquiring and wondering) things like : can makers for canning (the glass that we use is tempered glass) refrigeration (possibly with solar power?)While I have no idea on how to achieve these things,I simply wanted to make sure that these rather ‘vital’ thinsg don’t JUST get overlooked,cause it is girl stuff 😉

    I’ll guess I will have to make do with telling everybody and their second cousins about your project and financial contributions.

    YOu do amazing work.
    Sonja (who sometimes goes by the name of brooke)

    1. Marcin

      We are not forgetting ‘girl stuff.’ The open source fabrication capacity that we are building will be capable of building just about anything – including needles. On the fabrics – there’s already another open source loom project out there, OSLoom.

  2. Rich

    I watched your talk, and read some (not all) of your wiki. I am now starting to read your blog so forgive me if this has been covered already, but do you do tours of your farm? I think with the enormous influx of people and ideas you are talking about in your blog, that some ideas would be better sparked on-site. This would raise awaremess and perhaps also be an income generating venture.

    Perhaps those that are capable, but not able to dedicate themselves full time to your cause could tour your facility, and while there, suggest problem resolutions according to their expertise that could be captured and dealt with using your resolution methods. I am thinking of something like a one day “camp” that is not directly related to a singular project like your dedicated project visits. It would be minimally invasive, and less cumbersome than a gigantic lifestyle upheaval that coming to collaborate full time would be.

    Perhaps there are engineers, welders, inventors and other generally smart people that would have an “eurika!” moment while looking at your projects that they may not have seeing them online. Then they could go home and you would not be forced to vett applications all day.

  3. […] Here is a short video about the project that is developing do-it-yourself local scale versions of 50 essential machines for civilization, many of which are food and agriculture-oriented. […]

  4. sonja corterier

    You guys are awesome. I must have missed the loom stuff. Really amazing work!! thanx for taking out the time to reply. It wasn’t meant as a stick the prick in comment, just a ‘instead of complaining somewhere unproductive’ make sure. I have send your talk to at least two engineers who may have the suitable mindset, so at least I can be a multiplicator, Thankx and rock on

  5. James French

    Marcin, I am experiencing a lot of slowdowns on your site and am interested in helping to optimize its performance. I have sent an email to Elifarley yesterday offering my services as a PHP developer, but I have suggestions regardless if am accepted or not to spit code.

    Please move away from CoralCDN. There are usable CDN’s that do not require very high volume for relatively cheap. I would be willing to help pay for 1TB/xfer almost anywhere else.

    Please make the site more cache-friendly as this will not only help on your end but also help make the site more accessible from locations where bandwidth is very scarce and an intermediate caching proxy is a necessity.

  6. Matthew L. Tyler

    I am a True Fan member and working on how best to align my efforts with that of OSE.

    In regards to sonja corterier’s comment: I am a father to four remarkable girls – we have been brainstorming what needs will arise in the prospects of doing a DPV as a family. It will always be useful, bringing these kind of perspectives of necessity to the question engine!

    As the questions arise the answers will surely follow. There are a lot of creative solutions out there, I for one am excited to see the course of development.

  7. Kevin

    Hi Marcin,

    so far I could only give you all the best regards and saying that I am absolutly stunned by the project.

    I am an Industrial Enginner, currently in my 4. Semester of a 7. semester long study, learning stuff about production and factory planning, materials (steels, hardening process, welding capability…), calculating and laying out of structures (technical mechanics), maths, physics…

    I love all the mechanic stuff, like choosing the right steel for a certain application, getting into the elctric systems of combustion engines (and tuning my own :-), getting sensor data from my own vehicle. I am also a keen follower of the maker community and self a tinker at heart.

    I am also a passionate welder and fan of everything with wheels. Bycycles, motorbike, cars. I like the theoretical part as much as going out in my own workshop and fixing my car.
    I am exeptional skilled in mechanics.
    I am about to plan to built my own multi machine. Your links helped alot so far!

    Unfortunetly as a student you are on a tight budget, but I landed a job this week to help me founding my dreams.

    I would wish I am already done studying and coming to Wisconsin. I would be so glad to help you, Marcin.

    This year we are doing a semester long work of planning a factory.
    Need some help with that? 🙂

    I wish you all so much love,
    I know you love what you are doing
    and that everything turns out the way you are thinking Marcin.


  8. Jerry Scovel

    We can build floating water mills using recycled plastic bottles, barrels, styrofoam et cetera. Floating water mills have a long history of producing power, grinding grain, pumping water or any other job that can be done with a high torque, low speed, rotating shaft. I have the tools (enough to keep 100 people working) but need labor and materials. Once we have tested the designs we can make a video so anyone can build them.

  9. Marc de Piolenc

    Well, I’m in…or so I thought. Filled out the survey, got access to the Forum and posted a few times. But my login for the Forum doesn’t seem to work on the wiki. Very confusing and frustrating, particularly as so many of the topics covered are ones I’ve researched over the years and want to talk about! I may have to start over and keep careful navigator’s notes along the way.

  10. Franz

    The positioning strategy has shifted from that of resilient communities (this tends to attract doomsday advocates, ecovillagers, rebels) to community-based solutions of reinventing local production (this tends to attract a more universal audience). . sounds VERY good to my ears!

    By the way: After the untying of the all-too-close relationship between the (technocratical, megalomanic) Venus Project and the Zeitgeist Movement, OSE could and should really become a logical and essential component of Zeitgeits “resource based economy”. They are seeking for that right now!

    Actually this mirrors we mostly need the small steps to fix and repair our planetary circumstance, that are highly reproduceable. (rather than the valuable but far – fledged dreams of TVP) And we need to show that the nonmonetary, cooperative model is superior to the monetary, competition-based one in developing solutions. I doubt if something like “Open Capitalism” works: if that means investing in factories to outcompete each other and financing oneself by monetary streams out of this, even user-led development would end in a cul-de-sac. There is much truth in the assumption that products on the market are built around artificial complexity and planned obsolescence; but its very unlikely that you can beat them by just offering better products.

    Rather than that, the path and the goal must be as close as possible. The disposable time of individuals can become the main source of their livelihood, having fun AND control in self-providing, not in competing. That does not mean that existing businesses with their enormous productivity could not adopt OSE technology like IBM and others adopted Linux. In fact there ARE things that we dont want to make from the scratch in every vilage !!

    Still the true liberation comes through “aspectual autarcy”, when communities exist and are capable of producing 80% of stuff themselves, being able to make rational distinctions and decisions between what makes sense and what not. (call it bargaining power if you wish).

    It would be interesting to see the next step: communities supporting and sponsoring inventors as part of a global communities cooperation. Thats the very definition of Global Villages, being a local community that contributes to the ‘planetary knowledge base on augmenting locality’ with the knowledge that the return will be without limits.

    Its not necessary to wait for the GVCS to be finished and create such communities as indicated in the timeline above, any Transition Town in the world (and there are thousands already) could and should be convinced to support one particular effort. The goal is identical, now is the time to converge.

    Maybe it would be good to have a community – based program like the individual – based true fans program.

    1. Marcin

      “Its not necessary to wait for the GVCS to be finished and create such communities as indicated in the timeline above, any Transition Town in the world (and there are thousands already) could and should be convinced to support one particular effort. The goal is identical, now is the time to converge.”

      Yes. What one particular effort would you like to be supported?

  11. Franz

    Good question. Automatically adjusting Solar concentrator ist still high on the list. Technologies that make immediate sense. I learned that conventional Solar Cookers are not very popular in the world because you have to readjust the position manually all the time / 2 degrees of freedom..
    Thats an example that each technology could be positioned against what is. Beside the Open Source advantage, there should be a conceptual advantage. just my 2 cents.

    1. Marcin


  12. Franz

    Good to read the SolarFire announcement!

  13. RalfLippold

    Marcin – Thank you so much for your enthusiastic TED Talk. It resonates so well with my own experience, in fast prototyping, betatesting, and lean thinking.

    Coming from the tech side (father an electrical engineer), using web tools intensively to find, and leverage knowledge across boundaries, I moved well into the arts side of life. Blogging on performances at Dresden’s most famous opera house: Semperoper ( – tags: Semperoper, ballet)

    Human dynamics, resistance to change often is unseen, arts is a great enabler to get people to do new things, like DIY.

    I have some ideas I’d like to share.