Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why is open source hardware important to the US economy

Open source hardware is about empowering individuals to create their own products. It encourages a new behavior, called builder-consumer that fulfills the theoretical / philosophical “long tail” of consumer devices. Meanwhile, it has two (un)intended consequences: first, it is encouraging engineering education by making electrical engineering product design technology accessible to a far larger audience, and second, it is creating a newly empowered consumer who is no longer bound to traditional product hype-launch-consume expectations. The net is a fulfillment of a traditional market void in consumer products that in theory could up to double the current consumption of consumer products. In practice, because the source of the product can come from remixed products, and because open source consumer devices do not always reflect new sales (some of them compete against existing products), doubling product consumption is clearly an exaggeration, but the potential may still be strong enough to create a new market.

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