Open Source Ecology Paradigm

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The Open Source Ecology Paradigm

Marcin Jakubowski, Ph.D., 12.24.2011

part of the OSE Christmas Gift to the World of 2011


The Open Source Ecology Paradigm is an idea that the open source economy is a route to human prosperity in harmony with natural life support systems.

Open Source Ecology (OSE) is a movement to create the open source economy. The movement consists of hundreds of entrepreneurs, producers, engineers, makers, and supporters around the world – who believe in the power of open – who share the open ethic. The 'Ecology' in the name refers to the interaction of natural and human ecosystems – the environmental, societal, and technological systems – as they interact along open principles. Read a further description of the OSE concept as it was formulated initially in 2003 (see Appendix below). Since then, the concept has evolved to a platform for creating distributive enterprise, as a solid foundation for a sound economy - a third economic option beyond capitalism or socialism. The distributive economy paradigm centers around open access to efficient production as a means to transcend artificial material scarcity. The paradigm uses open source tools and techniques to produce advanced civilization – by unleashing the power of the responsible use of technology.

The main current project of OSE is the Global Village Construction Set – a set of 50 Industrial Machines that allow for the creation of a small scale civilization with modern comforts.

OSE Mission

The mission of Open Source Ecology is to create an open source economy - an economy that optimizes both production and distribution, while providing environmental regeneration and social justice.

Overview of the OSE Paradigm

The backbone of Open Source Ecology is open access to economically-significant information – product designs, techniques, and rapid learning materials for achieving this. Collaborative development, 24/7 around the globe, leads to best practice designs - accessible openly via the internet. When economic productivity is unleashed as such, there is a direct effect on community prosperity. As a result of lowered barriers to entry, each community can increase the range of products and services that it can provide. Global collaboration in open product and process design leads to best practices being commonly available. This is opposed to the dominant paradigm of today – where a few companies having the best products or monopoly control, and by definition, the rest is mediocre. Open economic development has the potential to raise the bar on the quality of products in the productive economy – as opposed to the enforcement of mediocrity through protectionism and monopoly.

All wealth comes from nature – rocks, plants, sunlight, and water. These are found ubiquitously. Yet the presence of strategic resources results in conflicts over their appropriation. “Hey, that's my oil under your land.” Open source technology can address this problem – via principles of substitutability. There are many routes to producing any economically significant product or service. Resilience of communities depends on having a diversity of options. As open access to technology becomes commonplace, every community can increase its level of productivity and appropriate technology – to the point that it can substitute any strategic material with local options – without any reduction in the standard of living – while contributing positively to global peace.

Transparency of the connection between technology and nature means that people begin to respect nature. This happens when people begin to respect that their well-being comes from nature. This transparency is facilitated when economically productive activities happen as close to the community as possible – not out of sight, out of mind in remote locations. This is true environmental accountability – as one tends to not destroy their own environment. Thus, there is a direct connection between transparency of production to natural regeneration – as people begin to make more sound production choices – by understanding the connection of production to the land. This means that industry no longer needs to occur in the form of toxic wastelands – but instead – eco-industry, on a human scale – serving the needs of people, not centralized industries competing for world domination.

Thus, technology and technological literacy are a way to reconnect to nature – not to destroy it.

The above depends on increasing the density of knowhow and technology in every community – which comes from the open paradigm – open information, open communication, open everything. The limit of optimal density of productive knowhow is the point that any community is capable of producing the full range of essential resources necessary for it to exist, grow, and prosper. This is not to say that trade should not happen – but for community stability – trade should be avoided on essential products that the community needs. As much as a community would want otherwise – when placed in a scarcity condition – rationality goes out the window and people start to kill each other.

For the first time in history – we have a chance to do otherwise. Unleashed access to information and technology – as availed by the computer age – means that any conflicts related to material scarcity can become a thing of the past. This includes resource conflicts, poverty, overpopulation, and even bureaucracy – as bureaucracy is not much more than a mechanism to manage scarce resources. Further, regulatory costs are minimized via technological transparency - as a technologically-literate populace of the open source age becomes increasingly responsible for its own actions.

This is not a case for conflict between the rich and poor, the city or the country, the first or third worlds – it is a case where open access to information helps everyone. As barriers to entry are lowered, social upheaval is minimized. As production remains high – and increases due to the elimination of competitive waste – prosperity can only increase.

This is a paradigm shift. That is the core of Open Source Ecology.

This does not address evolving as humans – in cultural and scientific advancement - or in wisdom that prevents us from reverting to insanity. Open Source Ecology only lays a starting point and foundation - from which evolution becomes possible.


We support everything open. See the notions of open at the Shuttleworth Foundation -

Economy and Ecology

Distributive Enterprise - The distinguishing feature of this paradigm is a focus on distributive enterprise – open publishing of not only product designs, but also of open enterprise models so that others can replicate best practices. There is a direct relationship between open design and lowering of barriers to entry. Productive enterprise forms the backbone for communities' infrastructures and their prosperity. Open access to unprecedented high densities of productive information means economic prosperity – and everybody wins.

The open source economy is an economic system marked by open access to best-practice designs and techniques for producing economically-significant products and services. One feature of the open source economy is Industry 2.0 – or distributed, flexible production – where access to a down-loadable repository of open source design feeds local, multipurpose digital fabrication facilities. Such facilities - or powerful Microfactories - can produce just about anything that a community will need - local food, energy, housing, or cars. This is distinct from centralized production facilities that exist today.

An open source economy produces designs by global collaboration, with development cycles 24/7 around the globe. When a sufficient number of stakeholders join a development process, it is a matter of time before the development cycle yields the best designs – and these designs evolve continuously.

Integrated Economy open fosters rapid learning (open IP) and low capitalization (open source products) – ie., lower barriers to entry. Lower barriers to entry indicate that a single economic agent can have a broader range of productivity, therefore more resilience from economic shocks. In the limit of extreme diversity on the part of the producers, every community can attain a complete economy. If product evolution involves advanced techniques for material substitution, then every community can attain a complete economy based on local resources. This is the solution to resource conflicts. This is stability in the face of global economic upheaval.

The end of artificial material scarcity – Artificial material scarcity may be defined as the condition where – in the absolute abundance of resources – namely rocks, plants, water, and sunlight – the distribution to humans is drastically uneven. Lowering barriers to entry helps to distribute production more widely. Product optimization from open development includes optimization for lifetime of use. Lifetime design (ie, lower maintenance costs), combined with high productivity and low barriers to entry - indicates that material abundance can be the general human condition. This is a solution to poverty.

Transparency of Resource Use and Feedback – Rapid learning in the open source economy helps people gain numeracy and technological literacy. Technological literacy promotes the understanding of production – and specifically, the relationship between natural resources and human population. Local resource use fosters a high level of resource feedback loops – as the state of the local environment is easily observable. Such transparency of resource use is the solution to overpopulation in a rational (materially abundant) society.

Lower Cost – by eliminating competitive waste, the cost of buying or making open source products is reduced significantly.

Competitiveness with Globalization - When IP access barriers are eliminated in the open source economy, cost of production is reduced to production capitalization and labor. The cost of production capitalization, under the assumption of flexible fabrication assisted by automation - goes to zero in the scenario of community-supported manufacturing (think Open Source Fab Lab in every community). In the open economy of DIY ethics and local capacity and transparency - the cost of labor goes down – as the user can also learn to be the producer. In the limit of DIY ethic, this cost, defined as cost of external labor - goes to zero – and is replaced by one's time. Further, in the limit of lifetime-design products, the time required for production is minimized, as production has to happen only once. Thus, competitiveness with globalization is achieved by zero access barriers and local skill, and local social capital – a different paradigm.


Closing the Nature-Technology Divide – Truly sound technology is not at odds with nature. We have a choice to produce technology in an environmentally sound way. For just about every harmful and polluting industrial process, a clean alternative may be found. Biomimicry shows us the way to do this in many cases. Moreover, truly sound technology should bring us closer to nature -

ie, if we appreciate that nature provides all material wealth, we are inclined to take care of nature. This is a case for educating generalists – not technologists or environmentalists – people who understand technology deeply to the point that they respect nature – and people who understand the environment deeply to the point that they they respect technology. Technological literacy is facilitated by introduction of true technical education, as opposed to industry standard marketing forces.

Product Development Ecology – In the mainstream, the designer is not the draftsman, the draftsman is not the engineer, the engineer is not the fabricator, the fabricator is not the user, and the user is not the repairman. While it is touted as the pinnacle of specialization, this introduces a lack of accountability between all these steps, and therefore, inferior product design when considered from the human ergonomic factors, product service, environmental issues, or wealth distribution issues. Open source design addresses this, as it is design by the people, for the people – and it is infinitely customizable.

Environmental Regeneration – There is a direct link between open source technology and environmental integrity. Open technology implies optimal technology – and one part of optimization is optimization for environmental friendliness. Thus, the trend of environmental degradation can be reversed to regeneration.

Appendix – Legacy Site for OSE

This is the legacy site for Open Source Ecology from 2005.

Archived on February 10, 2005, see Mission at

Our Mission

by Marcin Jakubowski, 11.30.03

 I. What is Open Source?

Open Source refers to the model of providing goods and services which includes the possibility of the end-user's participation in the production of these goods and services. This concept has already been demonstrated in Linux, the open source computing system. With Linux, a large number of software developers have contributed to creating a viable alternative to the proprietary Windows computer operating system. Many people can readily see the advantages- all Linux software is free. Please read these articles on the concept of Open Source software and its implications for changing business

II. What is Open Source Economics?

Our mission is to extend the Open Source model to the provision any goods and services- Open Source Economics. This means opening access to the information and technology which enables a different economic system to be realized, one based on the integration of  natural ecology, social ecology, and industrial ecology. This economic system is based on open access- based on widely accessible information and associated access to productive capital- distributed into the hands of  an increased number of people. Read about an inspiring example of such an economic model being currently put into practice with respect to manufacturing vehicles.

We believe that a highly distributed, increasingly participatory model of production is the core of a democratic society, where stability is established naturally by the balance of  human activity with sustainable extraction of natural resources. This is the opposite of the current mainstream of centralized economies, which have a structurally built-in tendency towards of overproduction. 

III. What is Open Source Ecology?
We derive our organization's name from a concept which refers to the integration of the natural, societal, and industrial ecologies- Open Source Ecology- aiming at sustainable and regenerative economics. We are convinced that a possibility of a quality life exists, where human needs are guaranteed to the world's entire population- as long as we ask ourselves basic questions on what societal structures and productive activities are truly appropriate to meeting human needs for all. At the end of the day, the goal is to liberate our time to engage in exactly that which each of us wants to be doing- instead of what we need to do to survive. All have the potential to thrive. Today, an increasingly smaller percentage of the world's population is in this position. 

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