Can Open Source challenge dominant business and production paradigms beyond the computer?

The computer operating system Linux and the Web browser Firefox are generally considered the two biggest successes of the movement to develop open-source programs—software anyone can modify, transform, and redistribute back into the community. While there are thousands of other examples, Linux and Firefox have managed to mount serious competition to established commercial products, and have therefore come to represent this specific, collective mode of creation.But Linux and Firefox are made of bits. They are immaterial. Bits can be shared and sent around easily, so that distant people can work on them concurrently; bugs can be corrected almost instantly; new versions containing updates, improvements, or fixes can be released virtually for free.

So here’s a question: Can open-source practices and approaches be applied to make hardware, to create tangible and physical objects, including complex ones?

Read Open Source at 90 MPH from Business Week. On topic: Taking Open Source to the Next Level on MetaFilter and Dana Blankenthorn’s Open source is a development model on ZDNet. (Plus, Google Web Toolkit goes 100% open source from ZDNet, A look inside Google’s open-source kitchen from C|Net and NewsCloud opens up.)

Previously from WNM: When Open Source goes wrong, Open Sourcing crossing over, With ‘open innovation,’ no idea is left behind, Open Source…Management?, What is “Open Business” ? and Open-source politics are “American as apple pie”

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Business 2.0, Open Source, Technology, our Mirror, The Politics of New Media, Tools, Usability, When New Meets Old

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