By Ben Schiller
Marcin Jakubowski is a Polish-American, PhD-level scientist who's leading an effort to build 50 open-source machines--essential items that "allow modern life to exist." These include brick presses, bread ovens, tractors, saws, and cement mixers--all designed with interchangeable, modular components, and meticulously documented for easy sharing amongst a growing international community.
Called the Global Village Construction Set, the idea is to spread viable technology at a fraction of the cost of today's high-end privately owned versions, "unleashing human potential," and creating localized (as opposed to centralized) wealth. In other words, no more corporations keeping knowledge to themselves, and sending profits to Wall Street.
This recent film by Tristan Copley Smith gives a pretty good idea of Open Source Ecology's philosophy, and includes interviews with several of Jakubowski's collaborators. Another video here, from December, gives an update from Jakubowski himself. Suffice to say, building 50 workable designs on a small budget isn't child's play. In the piece, Jakubowski admits to being "stretched too thin" and going "through major growing pains" in 2012.
But, working from a headquarters in Missouri, the team did build six new machines last year (bringing the total to 16 overall), with 13 separate replications in four countries. In addition, Jakubowski says the team has greatly increased efficiency--for example, reducing production time for the brick press to a single day. That may not be River Rouge, but it sounds like progress.
Copyright 2013 by Fast Company. Reprinted with permission.