Open Engineering: Better Than Sliced Bread

We are presently struggling with explaining a general open source product development method to others. We are talking about developing a large-scale, parallel effort of world-class, optimal product development to address the needs of the emergent, peer-based, localized economies with global information flows.

We are convinced that there is huge merit to this, and much discussion in many circles already transpired regarding this type of process. Thus, we are trying to get the discussion to a higher level. So far, we’ve been met with – what we perceive as – dismal failure in terms of getting others excited about our particular proposition. We sent out about 50 invitations to other leaders to help publicize the work, and got 6 responses. We feel that this stuff is better than sliced bread, so we decided to continue trying until we get at least a little more positive response. Here is our attempt. We welcome your comments on this, to help us clarify the message.

Warning: this may be interesting to you.

Dear Reader,

We have just developed the world’s first high performance (3-5 bricks/minute), open source, Compressed Earth Block (CEB) press.

But this is not the big deal that we want you to consider, even though our machine is demonstrating breakthrough 8x cost reduction over the competition.

The big deal is the novel business model by which such breakthroughs in cost reduction are attainable, for many types of products. It applies to areas from housing, energy, transportation, eco-industry, food, and other sectors. We are talking of nothing less than open source science and engineering for the public interest – a pipeline for developing ecological technologies that may just transform the way humans provide their needs.

How many times have you heard the like of, “When solar cell companies develop cheaper panels, then we’ll switch to solar power.” Instead of waiting around for good products to become affordable, why don’t we collaborate and make them reality, today? Face it. Optimization has not happened for many products, in the context of the centralized industrial system. It is not in its interest to distribute wealth, as is evidenced simply by the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.

We all have some kind of skill. What if networkers, designers, fundraisers, engineers from all walks of life, and others collaborated to produce optimal, user-friendly, durable, and inexpensive products, ones which truly meet needs at the absolute lowest expense to the user?

Our business model focuses on making such development a practical reality. The process is simple: it merely involves selecting products of key importance, and optimizing them, one after another. We are not talking of doing one product and quitting. We are talking of optimizing the entire economy. This takes a dedicated effort.

If production is optimized, then it is not difficult to imagine certain improvements in society: such as renewable energy for everybody, or clean air and water for all.

What is this magical process? The key to the business model is optimization via voluntary product development, followed by collaborative funding of production facilities. We were told that it is impossible to gather the huge resources necessary for product development from volunteers. We found that there are people out there who care. We were told that drastic cost reduction is impossible – but we are proving that wrong with our CEB machine.

We are well on the way with this development method with the CEB, and are looking forward to first production runs in October. Not only this, we will be offering apprenticeships for anyone who is interested in replicating the enterprise. That’s part of our dissemination strategy: open enterprise models and open licensing.

We need your help to extend this development process to other products. Our next major project is to make solar electricity available to everyone. Please examine all the proposed projects more closely, and let us know if you’d like to help spawn development in an area that interests you.
Here is more information on our projects. Please read OSE Specifications to get a feeling for the product standards that we are pursuing.

Please view our initial product lineup:
Our present development of the CEB press:
And a description of our development process:

Together, we can transcend material constraints as the determing factor of global geopolitics. Help us make this happen.


Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D.
Brittany Gill
Open Source Ecology, Founders


  1. Patrick Anderson

    Hello Marcin and Brittany,

    I have been aware of your work since you had and am very impressed that you have been able to actually begin physical production. I hope this will grow out of control (out of the control of the originators)…

    I have some criticism directed at your claim that you intend to model the business after Open Source, and I hope it can be considered by you with care.

    I am a religious follower of the prophet Saint IGNUcius. His wisdom enforced through GNU GPL trade agreement has made Free Software a competitor that proprietary corporations can no longer ignore.

    If we are to emulate this social movement, it is important to understand what User Freedom is and what it means for Sources to be open.

    == Developers Vs. Users or Workers Vs. Consumers ==

    OSE/Neocommercialization appears to be taking the stance of most any other Mode Of Production intending to overtake Capitalism when it assumes the organization/business must be Worker Owned.

    But I am convinced this is not nearly optimal.

    Some interesting things occur when Consumers (or Users) are own the Physical Sources of production, even when they are not skilled enough to operate them that don’t occur through worker ownership:

    * The consumer owns the Product even before it is Produced. This causes trade to be minimized.
    * Wages are separated from Profit: A worker-owner may otherwise overpay himself and disallow competing workers from accessing the Land and Capital (Physical Sources needed for that production, thereby keeping Price Above Cost.
    * Abundance and real solutions are goal and never thought ‘destructive’.
    * Scarcity is not sought and those physical sources are real insurance.
    * Unemployment is not a problem, it is the second goal.
    * Work is to be eliminated as a hurdle on the road to riches.
    * Low prices are always good and tend toward cost.
    * Profit is meaningless except as consumer growth.
    * Entire production chains are finally localized.
    * Development is solved instead of being sustained.

    In the world of Software, it is the users (consumers) that are guaranteed access to the Virtual Sources. Access is not confined to developers who happen to possess the skills needed to operate (program) those sources.

    When the consumers (users) have control, they are always able to “go around” any owner/developer that is attempting to overcharge them while claiming those charges are merely wage. Competition is maximized when mere consumers are in charge. Making workers the owners does not solve this problem.

    Here are some quotes to support my claim:

    “Three Minutes with Richard Stallman” ”With free software, the users are in control. Most of the time, users want interoperability, and when the software is free, they get what they want. With non-free software, the developer controls the users. The developer permits interoperability when that suits the developer; what the users want is beside the point.” —,137098-c,freeware/article.html

    “When we talk about computer users’ freedom, we mean computer users — not computer programmers, not the most powerful people in society,” — Peter Brown at

    And a short video supporting the opposite view = the idea that developers (workers) are the most important:

    Patrick Anderson

    [ This comment was also posted to ]

  2. Bela Beke

    I hope you be able to get knowlegible people to participate.I think open source is a fabulous idea .I heard of you on agro- innovations podcast.Please keep trying to get people interested.Perhaps if you join permaculture discussion groups ,there may be some others who will be offer constructive advice.I’m looking for low tech (tools and home made machinery 3rd world)presently i’m working on way of finding people to work with and who are interested to participate in an eco-village.
    Regards ,Bela Beke -Australia

  3. Marcin

    Bela, more and more people are getting interested in the actual engineering developments. Permaculture design is necessary – but its foundation is the hardware and engineering necessary to implement the designs. I use the word ‘engineering’ quite loosely to refer to technical information that constitutes the building blocks of global villages: process designs, hardware designs, technical information. For example, the ‘engineering’ of a permaculture facility is not only the design, but the means to access/propagate the necessary plant, animal, technological components.

    The present effort at integrating the engineering components is Global Swadeshi Network – It spans many disciplines – and its Global Swadeshi Dialogues are aimed at generating the awareness of all relevant work by active people.

    We are doing all we can to involve others in the Global Village Construction Set. For example, this August, 4 people will be converging here to help with the Solar Turbine. If you can help spread the word to other permaculture people – especially those with real engineering behind them – that would help propel the efforts along the lines of open source economic development.

    Keep us in mind – as we grow – we are interested in creating and populating other global villages.

  4. Peer Trust Network, OSE and More! |

    […] Open Engineering: Better Than Sliced Bread […]