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Strange Places To Find Open Source 118

itwbennett writes "Open source is about more than code: It's also about tractors, prosthetics, Christmas lights, and the poor old U.S. Postal Service. If you don't believe that open source changes everything, take a gander at Marcin Jakubowski's Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), a set of 50 industrial machines that are required to build and maintain a small, sustainable civilization. The open source aspect covers designs, instructions, schematics, budgets — everything anyone needs to know to build their own machines, and it is all freely available and free to share."
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Strange Places To Find Open Source

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  • Negroponte should be focusing his efforts more broadly than just a cheap computer. Why has he not filled those 'chuted in tablets with ideas like this. Self directed education is nothing without the seeds of ideas like this.

    Unfortunately, the GVCS seems to be missing a core idea of defense, seeing as how it is far easier for people to destroy any good that could be realized.

    Where is the Open Source Defense Kit: OSDK? THAT could be the missing piece from our lofty open source ideals.

    • You can convert most of those tools into weapons given the right mindset, otherwise just pick up a rock and throw it.

      • I'm guessing that you were never in a combat arms part of the military. Everything's a weapon. You at some point have to trust people to do the right thing.
    • [] There you go. Pretty much all of those are open. User developed, user maintained, user taught.
      • Funny, when I read the OS Defense Kit posting, I immediately thought of "defense against legal action" not "defending oneself from physical attack"... Guess I've been reading too much /.
        • by sjames ( 1099 )

          The world might be a better place if we used martial arts more often against the worst offending lawyers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hovelander ( 250785 )

        Ninjas vs Warlords. Hollywood has probably already stolen the idea.

        Seriously though. GVCS takes an interesting approach of building a society. There needs to be some thought behind defending what is created. Take the situations in Mexico and Somalia for examples. Instead of captive populations or towns just hunkering down in scattered huts and praying the tiger comes for your neighbor instead, what designs for communities could successfully defend against warlords/gangs? Would fort designs from the Br

        • Community defense is more about defending against infiltration and sabotage than actual overt attack.

          • Agreed, which is why that should be part of any overall design. An OSDK would have to incorporate strategies/tactics as well as hardware.

            How was the problem of infiltration handled in medieval castles and such? Can't believe that it wasn't an issue throughout history.

            Apologies for the thought exercise. Just always wondered why OS has always tended towards idealist exercises without pragmatically thinking about the part of human nature that wants to smash everything to bits.

            • Layers of trust. Most castles had maybe a hundred close residents. That's part of why trust and church and fealty were so important. In the middle ages a battle with 100 fighters was epic until the Crusades created massive armies.

              The situation you describe is exactly like Europe from 800-1100 or so. That's exactly what made Vikings so terrible because the could field 40 guys that were practiced fighters on scattered villagers or maybe a city of a few hundred.

        • Hollywood has probably already stolen the idea.

          Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon [] beat them to it. One of the protagonists in the book is trying to set up a repository of information called the Holocaust Education and Avoidance Pod (HEAP), which is an open source guide "for instructing genocide-target populations on defensive warfare." The HEAP project includes instructions for a do-it-yourself assault-rifle that can be easily manufactured by a local population.

    • While the OSDK might not exist, the dynamic duo of AK-47-and-offspring and RPG-7-and-descendants are arguably the equivalent of the MP3 format: Originally proprietary, and not really all that fantastic compared to some of the competition; but cheap, ubiquitous, and widely cloned...
      • by mirix ( 1649853 )

        The AK family of weapons are definitely analog.

        • Ah, but there's a threshold level where you've definitely been shot vs you definitely have not.

          So, you could argue that they are binary.

          • Their control mechanism is distinctly 'digital' - and the interface is point and click.

          • Ah, but there's a threshold level where you've definitely been shot vs you definitely have not.

            if worse comes to worse I just hope there is a scientist nearby to observe me at the time

    • by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:12PM (#37979880) Homepage Journal

      I like how the GVCS has all these computer controlled tools.... and nowhere in the list is a computer.

      • Is anyone actually manufacturing these things? Because that's the hard part. Tooling, quality control, even just the cost of the steel. Then put them to use and find out what doesn't work, what breaks easily. Caterpillar, Kubota, and other heavy equipment makers are in business because they've got a decades of experiance building things and they also have the manufacturing infrastructure. You could take a Cat bulldozer apart and clone it piece by piece. That's not very difficult. Reliably producing t

  • There wasn't a moratorium on software patents after the introduction of the personal computer, to allow good ideas to surface and everyone to share, before people started glomming onto things. Stand on the shoulders of giants sort of thing, rather than having your legs cut out from under you at every turn.

    Open Source would be pretty much universal.

  • Seriously sometimes it's like slashdot's on a 365-day loop...
  • ... i suppose they think magic fairy's produce the parts for the machines the machines can't make. or the fossil fuel made lube and the quality Hydraulic oil that is needed for them to run.. that metal press doesn't look like it can make most of the parts of the other machines and you sure as heck can't print his strength steel with a 3d printer. i also would not want to work on that CNC Precision Multimachine for both the safety hazards of having high speed rotating belts uncovered as well as how weak they

    • Yeah - I thought the same thing at first ... BUT ...
      It looks like what he is trying to do is make it so that once you obtain the raw resources, you can "recycle" the materials into new stuff, what he calls a "closed loop" system. I think this makes sense - sure, you will need a "seed" of a lot of steel and such, but beyond that you can incrementally build. I think it's really about cost and maintainability, and making it possible to truly DYI a town from the ground up - a key concept being the ability to su

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Not only that, but tyres seem to appear from nowhere as if from magic. Note to self: be sure to invest in rubber trees post-apocalypse.
    • magic fairy's produce the... quality Hydraulic oil that is needed []

      • Something tells me the machines to process the soy into oil weren't on that list.

        Usually the process involves use of petroleum based hexane in a solvent extraction chain, or the use of a high pressure expeller press.

        Good luck building that with your tractor.

        • They have a pelletizer. Which could easily be a screw-type. And which could also be used as an expeller to press soy oil, with a few modifications.

          Regardless, we're talking about a few tens of gallons of hydraulic oil. It's simply not a fundamental limiting factor of human civilization for an entire village of people to have to import a single barrel of oil in order to bootstrap it's existence.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      Yeah, but chemicals are so, ugh, non-appealing to the kinds of people who send money who fund initiatives like these. Ecology is nice and green. Antibiotics are tolerable even though they're made by evil profiteering pharmaceutical companies, but I suspect that every time somebody looked into them they kept finding these things called "solvents" used in their manufacture and decided that it wouldn't do for fundraising.

      I'm not sure what the 3D printer would even be used for - just about everything in that

  • by Anonymous Coward

    G.E.C.K. anyone?

  • The things in the kit? Are they things truly envisioned, designed and developed via an open source process or are they heavily leveraging patents of previous eras that have expired. Would the kit be more accurately described as public domain?
  • There are many major technology areas missing from this list. For example where the heck are you going to get the copper for the windmill and power supplies? There is no mining and refining chain. And I guess this civilization isn't going to be long on medical treatment or drugs. There is no chemistry for drugs, no way to make X-Rays, no cryo for MRI superconducting magnets, etc.

    The windmill looks nice but for that to work you need something to baseload the grid. And how do you make concrete from that colle

    • For example where the heck are you going to get the copper for the windmill and power supplies? There is no mining and refining chain.

      Recycling? This is a pretty ludicrous basis for your criticism. Why would you be posting on Slashdot if you can't refine silicon yourself? You should stop.

      I guess this civilization isn't going to be long on medical treatment or drugs.

      Most aren't. With adequate diet and exercise, it's not a big hindrance.

      The windmill looks nice but for that to work you need something to baseload the grid.

      Like a resistance heating element? A lightbulb? Some nichrome wire?

      And how do you make concrete from that collection of equipment?

      Why do 4 billion people on the planet need concrete exactly?

      • 1. Recycling? If you are going to recycle you have to have a way of making it once the first time. This doesn't provide it.

        2. Drugs are needed if you aren't willing to accept decrease in life expectancy to 35 that the lack of drugs would result in. And this did say MODERN civilization.

        3. Baseload != resistance element. It's a way of providing power when the wind isn't blowing. Sort of important if you are going have a modern civilization.

        4. Yes concrete. Please explain how you are going to build any foundat

        • And this did say MODERN civilization.

          It says modern comforts, not civilization. That generally includes things like fresh food, shelter and indoor plumbing, not pharmaceuticals, strip-mines and iPads. They only want to be able to support a village of a couple hundred people.

          Is this whole tirade really just caused by your inability to comprehend what you read and perform the critical thinking necessary to realize that, no, in fact this group of a dozen or so people has not set out to replicate downtown New York or the interstate highway syste

          • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

            I don't think anybody is suggesting that they aren't doing useful work. However, claiming that it only takes 50 tools to create a civilization with modern comforts really isn't true. No doubt those tools are very useful in getting there, but it takes more. For starters, it takes more than those 50 tools to produce the materials necessary to maintain them.

            Again, these are 50 nice useful tools, but the number 50 seems a bit arbitrary and I think that it was chosen so that sponsors can be pitched with "hey,

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        Uh, without drugs you can die from an infected stubbed toe. Believe it or not disease isn't exclusively God's punishment on people who eat too much. Also, you'll find that a good number of villages do have access to basic pharmaceuticals, and a little goes a long way.

        • Penicillin is simple enough to make. Tough equally simple to screw up of course.

          • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

            Yes and no. You probably need solvents to extract it. Modern techniques use very refined solvents (we like our drugs to be clean), and those which are best suited to the job. If you're willing to deal with lots of waste/etc you could probably find some way to make it using less ideal materials.

            If you just want to eat raw mold or whatever then that is pretty easy to manage, but of course allergies/etc will be even more of a problem than they already are.

            I think the real issue is that the website seems to

            • You don't eat the mold you grow it in an environment in which is will produce penicillin and you then extract that penicillin by simple filtration. You don't use modern techniques you use basic simple

              Yes it won't be very "clean" - though being penicillin it self-cleans a bit :)

              And you'd be a moron to use it if you had another option. But there's no reason for infections to have as a high a mortality rate as they did in the past given penicillin is so easy to make. Of course some people are allergic to it, i

              • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

                I do agree that when it comes to the 3rd world we shouldn't sacrifice the 80% solution for the sake of the 99% solution that nobody can afford.

                Actually, that applies in general to medicine - sometimes the "do no harm" philosophy holds us back a little. In the present climate I'm surprised we even have pain-killers, since in terms of outcomes they don't cure any disease and yet they still can have side-effects.

    • The windmill looks nice but for that to work you need something to baseload the grid.

      No you don't. That is like saying that our industrial revolution (I'm dutch) with all our wooden windmills never happened. But even if you do want a grid and to baseload that grid, you can do so with stored (solar) heat and a stirling engine (like in Tamera). Or with water power.

  • These third world peasants are supposed to drive tractors and get maimed on punch presses all day? While we first-worlders occupy Wall Street while sipping cappucino?

    How about something to enrich their leisure time? An open-source microbrew machine? A ?? []

  • I like how the GVCS has all these computer controlled tools too
  • Forgetting a few things?

    Don't get me wrong--I am fully supportive of open source ideals--but the people behind this whole GVCS thing, as it stands, are incredibly naive.

    First and foremost, no single place on the planet can currently supply all the resources for maintaining all of that technology. Shit breaks, it wears down, it grinds itself into dust that is flushed away with precious lubricants, lubricants that also becomes prone to chemical degradation and must be replaced. There is no accommodation in th

    • variety of foods (you can't grow everything in one climate/soil)

      With a suitable greenhouse in a moderate climate you can come very very close. And soil is not as important as you might think. You're not going to be growing fine wines everywhere, of course, but that's not the goal.

      I don't think anyone on that team has done any serious math as far as energy requirements of something as simple as smelting aluminum.

      The energy requirements are high, true. But the power requirements are only a function of scale. The difference between retail feasibility and industrial profitability is close to an order of magnitude. So you can scale down a lot and have it still make sense. And aluminum is easy enough

      • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

        I think the issue is that the list seems rather arbitrary. They have fancy single-purpose stuff like a machine to extract aluminum from clay, but just a generic induction furnace to handle every other metal that exists.

        No society with ONLY these 50 machines and only token imports would be able to exist with what most people would call "modern comforts." Sure, you might be able to make a few of them, but your CNC mill isn't going to work too well when a transistor in your power supply dies. You couldn't e

    • But in our society a lot of this stuff could be cannibalized from other stuff either in junk yards, or built up front. Figure you would eithr plan for this, or be survivor of some "depopulating event" with lots of broken stuff available.

      I find this intreguing because there's a long way from playing in the SCA to actually building a society. I think what they are looking for are "things to build things".. Even the Amish have a pretty impressive array of "technology" to get by every day.

    • Maybe that is why "Farmville" was such a hit--the simple life on a farm appeals to many.

      Yes, to many people who have never had to work on a fucking farm.
      At least nowadays you get some money to cover the basics of existence, but in its original form, if your crops failed, your family died.
      Really romantic.

  • that these new units for Civ VI have been leaked, although I can't see how useful they will be against Panzers.
  • From way back in April [].

  • Everything is in the "US Imperial" measurement system i.e. inches and stuff. Blech.
    • Hey, you got a problem with systems based on binary arithmetic (gallons/quarts/pints/etc. - there's a full range from fractions of an ounce to barrels, though some of the units have fallen out of use) and base-twelve (OK, it's only 12 inches to a foot - but the foot is the length of MY foot!)? Working with liquid measures as a binary system is very nice.

      In fact, in the grand scheme of things, the metric system is just as arbitrary. Use of base-10 is probably just descended from the number of fingers on m

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @02:15AM (#37982452) Homepage

    There's a classic "Build a Complete Metalworking Shop from Scrap" [] set of books. This set of books really does describe how to build machine tools starting from scrap and hand tools. The author was originally thinking of recovery after a nuclear war, when there would be plenty of scrap around.

  • In the back of a Volkswagen?

  • I was once in the arcade of a Dave&Buster's with my family and one of the picture booths failed to work when my sister was using it with her boyfriend. An employee came over and restarted the machine for her and I was able to watch it boot up. It turned out to actually be running an older version of Fedora (I'm not sure the exact version but it was back when the name was "Fedora Core").

  • I know that expecting more than a token number of intelligent, informed comments on /. is a faulty expectation. But this thread exceeds my lowest expectations. The GVCS isn't about building modern society from scratch. Thank you to the few commenters who wrote informed, useful comments-- I'm sure I'm not the only one who appreciates them.

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