The makers are not just about electronics, we know that. There are those who build robots and then there are those dedicated to tractors. There is nothing strange in this: work on the farm can have very respectful technological roots. The most pertinent demonstration comes from Open Source Ecology (OSE), the project created by Marcin Jakubowski, a physicist born in Poland who moved to the United States as a child.
Jakubowski left research behind to move to the country and take care of his farm, but with an eye for open source and the sharing of ideas. The point is this: if you need a tractor, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy it. You can build it with your own hands. Easy to say, but far from impossible. To do this you just need some spot-on advice.
In this case, OSE is the best place to look for ideas, projects and solutions to make 50 items of machinery and equipment essential for human civilisation. In the list you’ll find everything: plough, seeder and wind generator, and there’s even the oven to make bread and the 3D printer. On the site, you’ll find a wiki that contains all the information about projects developed so far.
As in all true farms, even in OSE there’s no slacking off. In the report on the first year of project activities, you’ll find all eight prototypes built in 2012. Getting behind the wheel of an open source tractor or working with a circular saw designed by you down to the last detail are really unusual sensations. But behind Jakubowski’s idea there’s not just design as an end in itself.
OSE is a summary of technical knowledge in order to create a sustainable civilisation, an indispensable knowledge collected in a handful of Gigabytes on a DVD. It can be useful for anyone, from the American citizen who decides to move to the country up to the farmer in Mali who wants new tools at affordable prices. Creativity is the key and the best way to feed it, says Jakubowski, is to put it to work.
We have focused on hardware because it can change people’s lives in a tangible way. If we can lower the barriers that separate us from agriculture, and building homes and tools, then we can free an immense amount of human potential.
We’re focusing on hardware because it is hardware that can change people’s lives in such tangible material ways. If we can lower the barriers to farming, building, manufacturing, then we can unleash just massive amounts of human potential.