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2016-08

Hemp's need for Open Source Research
04 Aug 2016 - By mr.berqstrom

It is time for me to put aside my criticism on Open Source and try to look for solutions. Some people might be provoked by the argument in favour of the blunt user in my previous 'blog post' (Creative Commons might become a copyright mess). But this is a necessary process to create further development, by investigating "both side of the coin". As established, there is clearly challenges with Open Source solutions, that's why I now will present to you a field where Open Source might be the key.

When reading some updates on the development of the Hemp Industry, I came across four sentences of great interest, published on the product webpage for The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (quote as follow):
  1. The economic reality of hemp is that hemp cannot necessarily compete with waste products (wood, straw, stover etc.) on price.
  2. Products such as biofuels or Medium Density Fiberboard are technically possible, but competitively cost–challenged.
  3. A processing challenge for the hemp industry has been that while every other industry has developed since 1938, hemp has not had the chance or the funding to develop the infrastructure to process the harvested raw material into usable and valuable raw materials. 
  4. Establishing commercial processing for hemp fibres is, in some ways, a game of catch up.
As far as I can read from the four bulletpoints, is it necessary for the Hemp Industry to "catch up" in the development and reserach behind the products. It is in this research area I see Open Source as a potential platform to assist with knowhow for the industry, so it can be able to compete on prices with established products. The other argument for for this is to make amends with one of the biggest mistakes in history, when the commodity for centuries were condemned and left outside general competiton in established marketplaces. The world today is far behind finding real solutions for the climate change. Hemp have the potential to be one of the main contributing factors, for handling it. But this can only happen if politicians all over the world are willing to face the misconception towards hemp and accept it as "the green revolution", capable of providing the human race with endless products families.

Hemp Usage
The Very Useful Industrial Hemp, digital poster, Source: cheeba.media
Hemp-Chart digital poster, first publication unknown

One of the advocates for this perception is Jack Herer, known for the book The Emperor Wears No Clothes (1985). As an activist his voice has been restrained, perhaps even understandable thinking about the times when the book were published. But today, three decades later, the need for his (point of) view is required, if the Paris Agreement is supposed to be something more than nice words and ironed suits. Canada on the other hand, is one of the few countries leading the way for hemp- driven solutions. But to push this further is knowlege essential and time is scarce. That's why I suggest for the Open Source (hardware) community to embrace hemp as their material. This is one of the few arenas where Open Source can develop freely and on its own, with little (or no) intrusion from other industries. Furhtermore can the plant grow alomost anywhere in the world, making it into a truly global Open Source project, with an aim to solve the climate crisis and create a new green fresh start for the planet Earth.

The first place to start, in my opinion, would be to follow up on the statement by The Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, saying that; "Products such as biofuels or Medium Density Fiberboard are technically possible, but competitively cost–challenged". When the necessary reasearch in this field, to create the systems and machinery needed for producing biofuels and fiberboard from hemp will take place, it should be done as Open Source. This would lower the development time (and cost) drasticly, since this is the part in the hemp processing where it's all about 'catching up', using known techniques. It would require people with a particular skill sets, willing to invest in new business models, built on the Open Source philosophy. But by bringing the chart above (the very useful industrial hemp) one step at a time away from the dream and making it into reality, the green revolution will quietly have begun.


Creative Commons might become a copyright mess
03 Aug 2016 - By mr.berqstrom

Under the creative commons licensing scheme, there is it a large variety of different sharing models you can choose from. If you first has agreed to give away some of your rights regarding the copyright of your work, the creative commons  will give you two main options. The first is the contrary of the standard "all rights reserved". Its called CC0 “No Rights Reserved”, as the copyright belongs to the Public Domain. The second options is the commonly used CC License where the copyright holders can choose from four different types of permissions:
By combining these, you can put together the license fitting your work and valueset. As an example is the license for this webspace - EggCube.org, following the License; Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. This license makes the access to my work on EggCube.org, mostly suited for individuals as students, reasearchers or educational and non-profit organizations. You might wonder why I have not taken the step fully out like the the hardcore Open Source fans, by removing the Non Commercial clause, but my answer to this can be read between the lines in My Vision. It clearly shows that my licensing needs are different from digital object producers, as my work is mostly idea creation and concept development. But to make it easy, you could say that I'm the kind of person who's using both Windows and Linux, side by side.

So, not to dwell more about my own choices regarding the copyright License at EggCube.org (as it sums up itself at the end of this blog post), I would like to describe a case where the "Open Source Architect" is using two sets of CAD-Objects. One set is found on the found on the Open Building Institute website, the other from my master thesis - 'Houses for the masses' at EggCube.org. The difference between these two licenses is the more restrictive Non- Commercial clause for EggCube.org. Otherwise is the Attribution and Share Alike the same.

The Open Source architect wants to use hempwall CAD elements from EggCube and combine these with windows, doors and roofing elements from the Open Building Institute. When doing so, should the new license for the work made by the Open Source architect in theory follow the more restrictive liscense, but since it is a commercial project for a developer, is it highly possible that the architect will ignore this fact and pretend that only elements from the lesser restrictive license were used in the project. The Open Source architect thereof wrongfully claims he/she is the creator of the hempwall CAD elements and to save time only given Attribution to the lesser restrictive license. But to fulfill the terms of the lesser restrictive license, he/she still need to fulfill the Share Alike clause of the modified buildingelements. Problems to do so, occurs when the Developer do not want detailed files about their building to be publicly available, most likely for privacy reasons and the risk for abuse. Only picturing what potential wrongdoers could do by knowing the details of a door or window to a building, not mentioning how the same challenge would be considered for an Open Source Home Control and Security System. I'm not saying that this is challenge that cannot be solved, but the risk is high that the Open Source architect will breach the Share Alike clause by not publishing the demanded data. In other words will both licenses on several aspects be broken.

Perhaps the scenario above might seem to be constructed, but security doors and windows are today in normal use. Even, in some parts of the world are bulletproof solutions desired. Therefore, as a colorful input I wonder how Open Source weapons (here: defensive solutions) would be perceived in the society? When it on the other hand comes to the licensing dilemma as presented above, do I find the CC0 simple and easy to understand. On the contrary I find the commonly used CC license a little bit to complicated. To expect that people will understand it's several layers and how to mix different works with different licensing options, is simply optimistic. I believe many People will not understand how it's supposed to work. Even if the user might understand most of the intended use, the user might feel forced to breach the license and its intended way of usage. This is what I'm trying to show in the example above with the Open Source architect. Furthermore, I would ike to hear what the courts in different countries have to say about this, if the copyright holders, by using the CC licensing, is expecting to much from a person's understanding (of the license) when trying to use their material in own work. It is a chance that the person who breach the Creative Commons license in several cases will not be punished, due to "what a person might understand" in the moment of its usage, since the CC license and the mixing of licenses could be to advanced to be understood for "most people". It might just be so, that the CC license expect to much from people. Therefore, as a copyright holder, I do not wish to remove the Non-Commercial clause in my own usage of the CC license. This clause is more simple and easy to understand than the challenges linked to Share Alike and Attribution, and I'm quite sure the Open Source architect would be aware of it.


Size UP !
02 Aug 2016 - By mr.berqstrom

When reading todays blog at creativecommons.org, I get triggered to comment on the article "The future of housing is here: CC Talks with the Open Building Institute". As it shows, is the Open Building Institute in its final funding round at Kickstarter.com with positive results. When I study the project Open Building Institute and its predecessor further, I get a feeling that this is just the tiny beginning. Together these two projects create a potential starting point, for building a modern town from scratch. It will be a low-rise town based on the existing solutions available. But over time, hopefully it will be one of the main building blocks, when the Open Source movement tries to reach for the sky. I think Catarina Mota and her husband Marcin Jakubowski do an amazing and heartwarming job, when they publish their projects under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Personally I'm not very interested in 'free' CAD objects for my drawings anylonger, since I'm now working on a more conceptual level. But I do understand the impact this might have on the workflow for an hardcore Linux user, trying to get the architectural drawings together on an Open Source workstation.

A more philosophical perspective on Open Source Hardware, can perceive these kind of initiatives (with some extreme interpretations) as "radical anarchism for the 21st Century. It is no longer rebellious as the 1999 Seattle WTO protests, manifesting a 10 year era for the anti- movement (well documented by the former publication greenanarchy.org, partly inspired from the writings of John Zerzan), but on the contrary - it is upbuilding, creating a real competitor to established business. This is happening, not by changing the system, but by liberating data. You might argue that this constructive, cost-cutting actions does not reflect what an anarchist might stand for. But my point to make is that the Open Source movement, through its idealistic work, believe in a society not very different from the travel descriptions written by Pyotr Kropotkin.

So, if this society one day would become real (and not only in the virtual world), what would it take to achieve the necessary infrastructure and buildings? If most solutions used in daily life were based on free available data, how would it reflect in the society structure and its distribution of wealth? There are many questions connected to the topic and I don't have any of the answers, but I can foresee that Open Source might be it - leading the world towards a post- capitalistic age. 


Walls/ antiwalls
01 Aug 2016 - By mr.berqstrom

The classic city wall (defencive walls) was outdated with the development of cannons and has been unfashionable since. This can be related to the history of war and its influence on the technological development. Even so, walls has been a traditional architectural element in the urban landscape since the first urban development found place in the middle east approx. year 3500- 3300 BC. This development came as a natural consequence to the Neolithic Revolution in the region. Common for all walls since then, are that they demarcate space by defining a simple ruleset for the flow in the city. The next ruleset (connected to the first) is defined by the openings, doors or gates in the walls and how they connect to other spaces in the city.

A wall does not mean that the boundaries are impermeable, since this will always be a question of force, but for most daily scenarios will the wall (together with its openings) create a structure on how and where people can move in the city. This is true to all kinds of walls, also the walls of a building. Streets together with its buildings can create long corridors, edges controlling the flow in the city landscape. With other words are walls one of the basic elements that makes up a traditional city. Later in history, more specific during modernism, the development of buildings placed upon a forest of columns, became the antithesis to the city corridors, giving freedom to movement on the street- level of the city. An example of this 'antiwall' can be seen on the photo of the Hiroshima Peace memorial museum. The picture shows how the whole building is lifted up on pillars, creating accessible space beneath. 

For the slum- district in a city is it unfortunately little chance that the buildings will be created high up on pillars, leaving the ground level open to the public. This is due to the cost for this type of construction. Political will can do something about this and deal with the slum challenge, turning it into governmental social housing programs, developed in the spirit of modernism, but history has shown that this is a type of development can be afforded by very few societies, particularly with pressure from an exponential growth. Fortunately there is no rule without exception, as China has shown the world how it is possible to lift a "whole" society up to an industrial society standard, in relatively short period of time (fastest in history).

Before starting to dream about future megacities where the whole city is placed upon pillars, leaving the ground- level to the slum, I will bring to your attention a scenario of today, where walls can be considered as a positive element in the city landscape and it's slums, without creating the stereotypical emotions of segregation. With massive urban development in short time, will existing infrastructure struggle to keep up with the demand. For the city administration is it common to see how the backlog of significant planning and execution is increasing. In scenarios like this, is it crucial for the city to take prioritized and decisive decisions for optimization towards the future. The city will have to live with these decisions for decades and even centuries,.

One example where it is necessary to take a grip for "what's to the best for the city and it's slums", is the outskirts of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). The photostory Life and Lines by photographer Debosmita Das, document the life in the slums next to the railroad. The pictures show the danger the people are exposed to. Conditons that could be tremendously changed with a simple, cheap solution where walls/ fences demarcate the space allocated for infrastructure. A solution like this would further improve the infrastructure and prepare for future growth with capacity increase on the railroad.


The city of Ur - wikipedia.orgWalls, The ruins of Ur, Southern Iraq: Source: wikipedia.org
Photo by M.Lubinski from Iraq,/USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 


Antiwalls, Hiroshima Peace Memorial MuseumSource: wikipedia.org
Photo by WiiiiCC BY-SA 3.0 

Photo by Debosmita Das
Missing walls, Life and Lines, Kolkata - India; Source: reikan.nl
Photo by Debosmita Das, published first 6 May 2015 in THE PLAID ZEBRA