Open Collaborative Design involves applying principles from the remarkable free and open-source software movement that provides a powerful new way to design physical objects, machines and systems. All information involved in creating the object or system is made available on the Internet – such as text, drawings, photographs and 3D computer-aided design (CAD) models – so that other people can freely re-create it, or help contribute to its further evolution. It is essentially the same principle that is used to progress scientific knowledge.
A core element of this development model is a principle called 'copyleft' which is a way of applying copyright to a creative work in a way that makes sure that anyone can freely use it or build upon it - and also that derivative works inherit the same terms, ensuring anything based on the original is freely available too. This principle means that 'copylefted' items – whether they are designs, text, artwork or computer code – are effectively gifted to humanity, adding to an ever increasing universal 'commons'. Because this principle is to the benefit of everyone, it completely changes the way that many people think about contributing their time and effort to this type of project. It already works very effectively with many high profile, successful software projects, so this is not merely wishful thinking.
Open collaborative design is a nascent field that has huge potential to radically alter the way we create goods, machines and systems – not only for personal items but all the way up to components of national or global infrastructure.
Open Collaborative Design could revolutionise Local Government in Australia & around the world. Most Councils face the same sorts of challenges, and working together in a collaborative environment may well be the most efficient way of meeting those challenges.
Open Collaborative Design in Local Government
At this point in time Open Collaborative Design is not being used much if at all by Local Government in Australia. It has been suggested that an Australian Open Design Library should be created, where designers from all levels of government could publish designs under an open licence like the GNU General Public License or the Creative Commons ShareAlike Licence, for the use of other government departments and the Australian populace in general.