[open-development] [ciresearchers] FW: Promoting open business models?

Caitlin Bentley Caitlin.Bentley.2010 at live.rhul.ac.uk
Mon Jan 28 12:29:22 UTC 2013

Dear all,

I can see how it's quite easy to create development initiatives through
open business models that take advantage of systems as they are, like open
business models that help poor and marginalised people to generate incomes.
My concern is that business models rarely address existing inequalities
that make people poor in the first place. If I understand correctly,
Kiringai likes the idea of open inputs leading to business oriented
outputs, and that institutions should just decide to make contributions
back to open society to infuse some sustainability into the situation. A
concern of mine is that this focuses knowledge generation processes (within
universities and academia too) reinforcing the importance of knowledge as
needing to have some commercial value ultimately. Where would we be if that
kind of thinking was imposed onto pure mathematicians or post-development
academics etc.?

So in answering your first question Tim, "how far in advocating for open
development we should be advocating for open business models?" I believe
that the open development community should be fundamentally concerned with
transforming development systems and processes that aren't working for the
majority which echoes what Michael has circulated earlier about inclusion.
I think we should support open business models only if they are conscious
of, and can explain their "development" ethos, and in my opinion this
should include a dissection of how their business model contributes to not
only economic benefits but also social benefits of those involved.

There was also the example of http://www.openator.com/ from Franz that uses
an open source hardware business model. I'm not sure I quite understand it,
perhaps they have cornered a niche market or are comfortable making no
profits. I would actually be happy with that kind of business model, but we
live in a capitalist world, so making just enough money to cover costs
seems like it wouldn't really catch on. This is an interesting research
question in itself, I think these sorts of questions do have value for our
community, but until we can stand firmly together as working towards an
equal and just world for the majority in an inclusive manner, I am weary.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Franz Nahrada <f.nahrada at reflex.at>
Date: Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: [open-development] [ciresearchers] FW: Promoting open business
To: ciresearchers at vancouvercommunity.net
Cc: open-development at lists.okfn.org, pete.cranston at btinternet.com

Dear all,

just a sign of life since we are preparing a "Vienna Open Source Hardware
Summit" in May 2013 in the framework of the Linux Weeks, where we want to
emphasize on the vanguard of Open Business Models. We want to focus not
primarily on software, but on design and products developed and shared
commonly and the role of entrusted businesses and indutries to produce and

So far there are only a few of these endavours; take as example-  with very
high development relevance - this one:

http://www.openator.com/   - A UK open Source Hardware distributor

"First you need some soil. Since this is available pretty much everywhere
on this planet – finding raw materials isn’t a problem. Next you need a CEB
(Compressed Earth Brick)  press machine to create the bricks. We
manufacture affordable CEB presses using the latest Open Source technology.
You can either buy one from us, rent our existing presses or even build one
yourself using open source designs.

Then, with the correct soil mixture, you simply load all of the dirt into
the CEB press machines hopper. The earth then slides down the hopper where
it fills up the compression chamber. Once the chamber is full, huge amounts
of pneumatic pressure are applied to the sides of the earth. This
transforms the earth from the common dirt that we find beneath our feet and
into the effective building material that is known as the compressed earth

The newly formed brick is ejected out of the compression chamber where it
can be collected by a worker ready for construction."


This is really an exciting example because its related to one of the most
basic human needs.

now you can also look at the other side, the community that really
originates and leads the idea:


I admire Marcins dedication and ability to learn without compromising the
central principles.

And I equally admire the people of Openator to bring this to the business



Now if you have a good contribution to make at the Vienna Open Source
Hardware Summit, please dont hesitate to contact me!

Mag. Franz Nahrada
Manager, Hotel Karolinenhof
Founder, Global Villages Network / GIVE
Jedleseer Strasse 75
A-1210 Wien
f.nahrada at reflex.at
+43 1 2787801

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Kiringai Kamau <kiringai at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 11:21 AM
Subject: Re: [open-development] [ciresearchers] FW: Promoting open business
To: Tim Davies <tim at practicalparticipation.co.uk>
Cc: ciresearchers at vancouvercommunity.net, open-development at lists.okfn.org,
pete.cranston at btinternet.com

Thanks Tim,

I like the perspective of open outputs being inputs to a business oriented
output. The market realities and the balance that a learning organization
in the name of a young innovative university like Strathmore finds itself
operating in calls for a very delicate balance. This is not helped when the
operations happen in a country that is pushing innovation to the fronts of
every aspect of mobile thought, which presents is a big challenge to those
driving the incubation hubs that have to incubate the technology developers
like Dr. Sevilla has had to do.

BUT that said, and given that most applications that are developed on open
platforms need be open and freely available, would it not help to make some
degree of contribution to the open society by making the output of the
learning process openly available  Should not the operating business model
for delivering the earnings to the value added innovator be derived from
the clout that they have in providing service rather than product
orientation? Should young learners be made to believe that open solutions
are there to be owned without contributing anything in return?

I suppose these are the critical questions that you sought to address but
sought a balanced trend...which then calls for a suitable model to support
the potential to bridge the digital divide in our lifetimes.

In my view, giving back to the open society should be a noble call and
young learners should be encouraged to do so...what is important is to
create the right perspective so that the balance between the business and
open orientation are addressed. developing country learning on such
thoughts and the blossoming of telecentres as vehicles for bridging the
digital divide need to be considered so that organizational thinking is
superimposed on the product development of open solutions.

I believe this is a perspective for the OKF Network.



On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 11:43 AM, Tim Davies <
tim at practicalparticipation.co.uk> wrote:

> Dear Kiringai, (cc back to the open-development at lists.okfn.org list where
> the discussion started)
> Many thanks for this reply - it highlights really well the tensions
> between the move towards openness and the practical realities of the
> markets, funding structures and theories of business we operate within.
> The distinction you make between developing with open platforms, and
> building solutions or products that are open, is really useful. It asks us
> whether open development is just about open inputs; or outputs also
> (complicated by the fact that the output from one value chain may be the
> input into another...).
> I find it hard to see arguments against the idea that at some point in the
> value-chain there needs to be a finite or excludable resource in order to
> generate revenue. In many open business models this ends up being a
> service, rather than information or physical product, but often with a
> strong cross-subsidy from a small number of users as in freemium models
> (and services are perhaps trickier to set up without investment; whereas
> selling information can scale smoothly and be bootstrapped). The challenge
> perhaps is working out which sorts of goods, when kept open further along
> the value chain, bring the most benefits, and which are distributed more
> effectively when more closed models are adopted.
> I certainly think this would be a great area for more of the open
> knowledge community to engage in. I'll try and find out at the OKFs meeting
> next week if any of other working groups such as open economics are
> exploring this, or whether it might be something to encourage shared work
> to explore...
> All the best
> Tim
> *(A note just in case it was interpreted otherwise - there was no
> criticism at all of Strathmore intended in my original post; I was
> impressed by what I saw when visiting, and just thought that the questions
> of openness it raised were an interesting area of discussion for the
> open-development community to explore...)
> On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 8:20 AM, Kiringai Kamau <kiringai at gmail.com>wrote:
>> Tim,
>> My name is Kiringai. I want to declare my interests in this matter as an
>> adjunct faculty of Strathmore where I participate in their food and
>> agribusiness programmes.
>> That said, I can now try to be open on this matter by stating that the
>> challenge of being a learning organization that has to fund its operations
>> for existence using internally generated funds places Strathmore in a
>> situation that makes their open solutions not be very open. And given that
>> they have to motivate their students as well as staff, if there are no
>> funds flowing in, they will be just another good organization.
>> Demonstrating how the students can make money through innovation is part
>> and parcel of their being part of the business school. To that extent,
>> their solutions are only developed using open platforms for not so open
>> existence. They are therefore quasi open.
>> It would definitely be exciting for Dr. Sevilla if there is a way of
>> benefiting from being a more engaged member of the open foundation so that
>> they can approximate as much as possible to openness.
>> Sincerely,
>> Kiringai
>> On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 12:48 AM, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com>wrote:
>>>  For those with a more techie or open data interest this below is well
>>> worth taking a close look.  What Tim Davies and Pete Cranston and others
>>> seem to be doing here is to try to link coders/app developers on the ground
>>> in Nairobi (iHub) with some of the real world of research outcomes and most
>>> important with the real world of trying to make use of the those research
>>> outcomes on the ground for African agriculture -- which for the most part
>>> means working through intermediaries, in their case Extension Workers.**
>>> **
>>> ** **
>>> Good stuff!****
>>> ** **
>>> M****
>>> ** **
>>> *From:* open-development-bounces at lists.okfn.org [mailto:
>>> open-development-bounces at lists.okfn.org] *On Behalf Of *Tim Davies
>>> *Sent:* Sunday, January 27, 2013 11:10 AM
>>> *To:* open-development at lists.okfn.org
>>> *Subject:* [open-development] Promoting open business models?****
>>> ** **
>>> Hey all,****
>>> ** **
>>> Responding to one of the comments on the open development working group
>>> review etherpad at http://okfnpad.org/opendevwg (please do visit to add
>>> your thoughts) that as a list it would be good to have some more in depth
>>> discussions as well as link sharing, I thought I would pose a question that
>>> struck me whilst in Nairobi last week for a hackathon around research data
>>> (blog posts about the event here:
>>> http://www.timdavies.org.uk/2013/01/27/linked-development-notes-from-research-to-impact-at-the-ihub/and here:
>>> http://www.euforicservices.com/search/label/r4d).****
>>> ** **
>>> That question was how far in advocating for open development we should
>>> be advocating for open business models? And what that might look like in
>>> practice?****
>>> ** **
>>> The context of the question was a visit to the iLab at Strathmore
>>> University, where, amongst other issues, some of the research and product
>>> development work going on has focussed on developing DRM (Digital Rights
>>> Management) technologies that will allow mobile educational content to be
>>> sold through micro-payments and tied to single devices. This clearly goes
>>> against the idea of open content that anyone can share, but at the same
>>> time, could lead to wider access to educational resources than would
>>> otherwise exist, and could stimulate provision of educational content where
>>> it is lacking...  In hearing about this micro-payment based, and DRMed
>>> educational content, I wasn't sure how to respond, or what realistic
>>> alternative models to point to that stand a chance of similar success in
>>> disseminating educational content. ****
>>> ** **
>>> Have other list members dealt with this sort of situation, and the
>>> tensions between the potential for market-based production to take a
>>> valuable idea or product to scale (particularly in developing countries),
>>> but at the cost of the openness of the products? ****
>>> ** **
>>> In a spirit of open discussion...,****
>>> ** **
>>> Yours****
>>> ** **
>>> Tim****
>>> ** **
>>> To unsubscribe (subscribe) send an email to: sympa at vcn.bc.ca with the
>>> message unsub (sub) ciresearchers
>> --
>> __________________________________________________________________
>> *Kiringai Kamau*
>> Value Chain Analyst and Knowledge Specialist
>> PO Box 35046 00200 City Square, Nairobi
>> Tel: +254 202 719 733/202 738 783
>> Cell: +254 722 800 986/733 375 505
>> *Skype:* kiringai.kamau
>> Websites: www.willpower.co.ke, www.octagon.co.ke,
>>                       www.vacidafrica.or.ke,
>> http://rural-agriculture.wikispaces.com
> --
> http://www.timdavies.org.uk
> 07834 856 303.
> @timdavies
> Co-director of Practical Participation:
> http://www.practicalparticipation.co.uk
> --------------------------
> Practical Participation Ltd is a registered company in England and Wales -
> #5381958.

*Kiringai Kamau*
Value Chain Analyst and Knowledge Specialist
PO Box 35046 00200 City Square, Nairobi
Tel: +254 202 719 733/202 738 783
Cell: +254 722 800 986/733 375 505
*Skype:* kiringai.kamau
Websites: www.willpower.co.ke, www.octagon.co.ke,

open-development mailing list
open-development at lists.okfn.org
Unsubscribe: http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/options/open-development

Caitlin Bentley, PhD Candidate
Department of Geography
Royal Holloway, University of London
Surrey TW20 0EX  UK
+44 (0) 79 7739 6421
Caitlin.Bentley.2010 at live.rhul.ac.uk
Skype: caitlin.bentley
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.okfn.org/pipermail/open-development/attachments/20130128/a4269ec2/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the open-development mailing list