This entry is inspired by the following spanish-language comments.
One of the key arguments in my presentation, when I talk about the extension of peer production to the physical field, is that design can be separated from production. The reason is that design is knowledge production, and can be more easily configured in a context of distributed resources and abundance, than can the more centralized production of capital-intensive physical goods.
A recent article in the New York Times, reminds us however, that design is an embodies process, strongly linked to production.
See the following quote:
“But over the long run, can invention and design be separated from production? That question is rarely asked today. The debate instead centers on the loss of well-paying factory jobs and on the swelling trade deficit in manufactured goods. When the linkage does come up, the answer is surprisingly affirmative: Yes, invention and production are intertwined.
â€œMost innovation does not come from some disembodied laboratory,â€ said Stephen S. Cohen, co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy at the University of California, Berkeley. â€œIn order to innovate in what you make, you have to be pretty good at making it â€” and we are losing that ability.â€
There is a certain truth to that. For example, one of the reasons for the success of free software in projects such as Linux, is clearly that design and production are one and the same in software, and that there is no hard frontier between developers and users, so that user insights can be integrated in the production process.
Would that mean that a project like the OSCAR open source car is doomed?
The answer would seem to be obvious: to succeed, its needs some kind of embodiment with production, which would suggest that the production process itself would need to be open as well, and that is much more difficult to achieve, as long as physical production is proprietary. Unless an enlightened physical producer opens up to the designer community. A precedent would be how IBM is opening up its patents, and supporting the open source community.
Another possible answer would be in the further “distributing’ (meaning more fully conceived as distributed networks) of physical production itself, through Fabbing, i.e. the ability to model close to home, and of course, deskop manufacturing. The good news is that a minipreneurial ecosystem is emerging.
However, I must admit that this argument is a serious challenge to the expansion of peer production.