Report from FSCONS 2009

Thanks to Jonas, Bojana, Rikard, Karl, Henrik, Mathias Friman, and all the others behind the scenes – who all combined for a pretty fiery Free Society Conference for 2009. You can see the Live website for the conference here, and the program here. Between the two sites, you will find the uploaded presentations (such as ours), and the videos of all the presentations should be getting posted soon.

Group photo of presenters and organizers (source)

The difference in this presentation compared to our previous work at Oekonux or Linz Counterculture Fair was that half of it was dedicated to discussion of the social contract for a post-scarcity community. This contract is up for complete review and and improvement – so please read it and rip it up here. The essential question in our case is how to attract dedicated developers who want to invest deeply into making post-scarcity living a reality.

It is not possible to mention all that went on but the highlights. On my talk – people had many questions afterwards for at least 45 minutes, so the concepts of building post-scarcity communities with existing technology are well-received. We already have a couple more True Fans signed up from the conference. Combined with new interest from the Product Release, we have 6 new True Fans since Nov. 1, and an overall total of 50.

We sparked great discussion on the open source fab lab, in that hackerspaces worldwide are well-positioned to collaborate on at least some of the pieces necessary. The concept of Industry 2.0 is really taking off – ie., the combination of fabrication literacy, global design efforts shared by computer, and local production via open source fab labs.I .

Edmund Harriss brought up the need for fabrication literacy. Yes, that’s a huge point – consumers are largely unaware that they can be the producers and creators of the real world around them. Kyrah presented on hackerspaces, and I managed to slip a video trailer for my presentation into her talk. Then we dove in further on the need to inspire others to see the transformative potential of productive power. Also, Smari wowed the crowd with tidbits like spontaneous creation of a wireless network in Afghanistan out of wood and chicken wire antennas – because the Jalalabad Fab Lab is in place to assist. Plus, there was talk of developing the scalable open source product development method to the level of rigor that it deserves.

On open source licensing of hardware, Adrian from Free Software Foundation Europe plus Mathias from Creative Commons Sweden suggest leaving a good paper trail of intent and prior art regarding our work with The Liberator product release. Publishing intent of the product release in non-legalese is part of defending it if it comes to court. Plus, America has business model patents – and I believe that our open source business model for disseminating productionn of The Liberator is patentable. Thus, publishing in trade journals is good, registering with Registration Commons does not hurt, and establishing clear intent via the open standards of OSE Specifications is important for eliminating closure of our open source work.

Oh yes, I found out the difference between free and open source. Free is the more radical form of open source – in that open source is not always free. As such, I was surprised to find that people at the conference were critical of open source, though they were still amicable about their critique. Change open source ecology to free ecology? Too late.

This is a brief recap only. The discussions are continuing, interest in our work is rising, and the time was well worth it. I must return to CEB fabrication optimization and machine automation on the ground here, which I will discuss after commenting further on collaboration for the open source fab lab.


Underground cave and location of conference social (source).


  1. Tom_L

    Why is it too late to change open source ecology to free ecology?

    Just as there are strings attached to being in the nonprofit sector (with a 501(c)3) there are strings attached to being in the nonfree sector (I don’t know what the critical conference goers said, but a few things come to mind).

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