Terminology and renaming



I will write up about the talk at OSHUG later on but this has been the first rest period for a while so I thought it would be best to update the project status first. Short form – back to the foundation and in need of a rename

The last month has been rather quiet on both of my blogs. Why is an interesting question. It started with Richard Stallman comeing to give a lecture at Hub Westminster. Another three high profile events followed and a freelance contract.

Stallman took a great interest in the Hexayurt Project and seemed interested in the idea of free hardware. His talk about free software sparked in me a need to delve deeper into the heart of the documentation issue. The faithful reproduction of physical objects by a second party is incumbent on direction. This direction comes from good instructional documentation. This was an aspect I was  familiar with. The wider implications of the initial approach, be it from the mindset of “free”, “open source”, or “appropriate” needed further deconstruction. I had not studied these terms deeply enough before I started mapping out the problems. A large part of the problem stems from well meaning individual who had not taken due care to pay attention to minor details from the start.

Was I tackling the documentation of free appropriate hardware, open source appropriate hardware, appropriate technology, open source appropriate technology or the myriad of other combinations thrown around interchangeably? Nomenclature is important and must be approached slowly. I decided that since some folks were not paying attention to these minute details then I was tackling all of these whether or not the correct label was applied at the time. I decided that I needed to use the widest brush possible. To go back to “free” instead of “open”. It does mean I will have to rename the whole project.

When considering the distinction between free and open, some might have felt the the idea of ethics and morality imperative would have been encompassed in the fact the technologies in question were targeted at members within the world’s poorest communities. Turns out this is not the case. Whilst morality underpins many of the practices between free and developmental technology they do not necessarily overlap all that much. As this aspect of the project is explored in deeper detail I hope to blog about it

I am trying to come up precise terminology for these free appropriate poverty alleviation technologies. So I began typing up the aims and working backwards.

Targeted at those in poverty
Free to use and modify
Environmentally, economically, locally sustainable
Sensitive to the needs of the users and local conditions
Leads to increased income or substantially better quality of life
Does NOT harm

As always the list is a work in progress, but it is important to lay out a lot of non visible groundwork that pays of in the end though slightly less exciting than the maps and table I cranked out after rushing off ahead as the project tired to pull me faster than I could handle.

I hope that gave a taste of where the project it. Strained on time and returning back to the basics before too much has been built on top of a bad foundation.

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