The MakerBot/Thingiverse move to the Dark Side (Updated)

Walter | Posted 2012.09.23 at 2:33 pm | Perma

NYC-Resistor offshoot and a generally speaking cool company MakerBot Industries has caused a sudden uproar which seems not to subside. MakerBot has introduced two new successors in their Replicator series of 3D-printers, the Replicator 2 and the Replicator 2X, that for the first time in MakerBot history are not open hardware. Probably not coincidentally, people started to notice that Thingiverse, the online repository of 3D-designs which is also run by MakerBot Industries had changed its terms of use last February. I will quote the bit that has caused quite an uproar in verbatim:

3.2 License. You hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Company and its affiliates and partners, an irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free and fully paid, worldwide license to reproduce, distribute, publicly display and perform, prepare derivative works of, incorporate into other works, and otherwise use your User Content, and to grant sublicenses of the foregoing, solely for the purposes of including your User Content in the Site and Services. You agree to irrevocably waive (and cause to be waived) any claims and assertions of moral rights or attribution with respect to your User Content.

The relevant bit of the old terms of use read as follows:

However, by posting, uploading, inputting, providing or submitting your content to Thingiverse.com, you are granting Thingiverse.com, its affiliated companies and partners, a worldwide, revocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, create derivative works of, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish that content for the purposes of displaying that content on Thingiverse.com and on other Web sites, devices and/or platforms.

The significant difference being that in the old terms of use the license had a limited scope, ‘use, reproduce, create derivative works of, display, transfer, transmit, distribute and publish’ , being the operatives. As a lawyer I tend to struggle with the application of copyright notions to open hardware, but precisely because open hardware and copyright are a poor match, the scope of this license was very much limited to Thingiverse-like platforms. As Bre Pettis wrote in his earlier blog on the change of the terms of use: this bit was probably nicked from the YouTube terms of use or those of a similar content-sharing platform. The net result was that this caused an inadvertent limitation on MakerBot Industries ability to incorporate stuff uploaded to Thingiverse in non-free open hardware products. Because selling a 3D-printer most likely does not fall within the scope of ‘the purpose of displaying that content..’, the newer terms of use however allow for such a thing.

Now these are both decidedly moves away from the openness that MakerBot was evangelizing in the past. Josef Prusa, of RepRap fame, has already started a Occupy Thingiverse movement and others in the community have responded so unfavourably that Bre Pettis, MakerBot Industries CEO and figurehead felt compelled to write a blog titled ‘fixing misinformation with information’ about it. In which he provides an argument that boils down “we haven’t figured out yet how to kick-start a hardware company with venture capital and remaining fully open at the same time. But trust us, we’ll be as open as possible, whatever ‘possible’ means”.  Which is about as tangible as Mitt Romney’s promises for the policies he’ll enact when elected president. Mind you, this section 3.2 of the Thingiverse terms of use is comparable to what is known in free and open software circles as a contribution license agreement. There are are all sorts of ways and purposes for which these are used and having been part of an effort to harmonize these I won’t say it is an inherently evil thing to do.

What is less-than-awesome is the way both changes have been enacted by MakerBot Industries. It is one thing to publicly announce that you’re having to compromise on openness because building an open hardware business model is still pretty much uncharted territory and that you’re moving back to some enclosure and also stating what your goals for future openness are. It is another thing to do kind of omit it in the fanfare surrounding the launch of a new generation of your products, a new generation whose polish was made possible to a significant extent by all the people willing to put up with all the quirks, bugs and sometimes outright braindead engineering decisions embodied in your earlier generations, just because an open 3D-printing future is awesome.

It is outright underhanded to use the same legal tricks outright evil companies such as Facebook and Apple use for the terms of use of a website you awesomely started to create an ecosystem to change the playing field that you can reuse the fruits of other people’s labour and creativity in any way you see fit. Again, you could have announced that due to the different economics of tangible goods versus those of pure information, you’ll need to be able to do stuff that is not necessarily congruent with openness. If done so in advance, the uproar could possibly be equally as bad, but would eventually subside. Especially if you made it clear that if you were actually using a design contributed by a Thingiverse user, you’d be reimbursing them. In fact, MakerBot has already done so, without even being obliged to do so. So if you are already doing something that is acceptable, why not be transparant about it? Because that is what it all boils down: MakerBot betrayed the massive amount of trust it had and makes it worse by telling the community which calls it out for it to trust it even more. And this is what really baffles me. The world of open source is littered with projects that collapsed after a major actor in that community decided to enclose it. Who remembers Mambo? The fork away from OpenOffice.org to LibreOffice because none trusts Oracle? The current forks of MySQL, for precisely the same reason? Or closer to home, Junior Veloso who pulled a similar stunt resulting inbeing overtaken by B9Creator? MakerBot explicitly set out to create a community-based ecosystem, both on the 3D-printer hardware side and the 3D-design side of things. Put a massive effort into that, especially communication. And it is all being thrown away. With platforms like Github available, a Thingiverse contender can easily be created. And then what? MakerBot Industries still won’t have the control it apparantly craved and nothing to show for it to its venture capital funders. I just don’t get it. For now I’ll steer clear from Thingiverse and will suggest others to do the same.

(Updated after the break)

Read more…

Help Hackitat make a documentary film about hackers world wide

i | Posted 2012.08.13 at 8:12 pm | Perma

You can help them out on: http://www.indiegogo.com/hackitat-a-film-about-political-hacking-world-wide by donate and/or spread the word.

On the 29th of November 2009 Malmö’s hackerspace Forskningsavdelningen was raided by masked riot police.

Armed with batons and pepper spray they stormed the social center where the hackerspace housed and confiscated computers and other technical equipment.

One of the people detained was a hacker named mackt. With a background in The Pirate Bay, for him the raid was yet another proof of society’s mistrust and lack of understanding of hacker culture.

After the incident he wanted to do something about the distorted image of hackers. He contacted the film collective RåFILM in Malmö and the idea was born to make a documentary that explains the political aspects of hacker culture beyond the simplifications and preconceptions.

The film will take them out on a long trip to the famous and infamous hackers and activists around the world, hackers that express themselves artistically and politically through technology. What are their motivations? What are the politics and activism hacker culture has shaped out? How does this impact our world? The film will feature unique encounters with people that usually elude the public. It will crash land in the middle of the conflict currently taking place between those who want to keep the technology and the Internet free and those who want to control it.

@hackitat
hackitat.com

Some thoughts on personal fabrication

Walter | Posted 2012.04.09 at 8:46 pm | Perma

One of the buzzwords doing the rounds in the past few years is ‘personal fabrication’. The idea that in the foreseeable future we all will be able to fabricate our own stuff. And although the founder of the fablab phenomenon, MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld, is pretty nuanced about it (watch his TED talk on the subject), some are actually talking about upsetting the traditional supply chains for manufactured goods. It actually is one of the stated goals of the Global Village Construction Set project by Open Source Ecology. The heavily ajective-laden newspeak of their website, this is actually a cool project. Watch Marcin Jakubowski’s TED talk about it. Also read Far McKon’s rather thoughtful criticism of it on his blog. The snark in me prevents me from omitting that the Open Source Ecology are doing everything in imperial measurements. Which aren’t quite useful for your stated target audience: farmers and villagers in the developing world. Get with the program guys, use metric!

Other than that, I find any ideas on reducing our interdependencies a bit interesting. There are a few snags here and there. First of all, economies of scale matter. They matter a great deal. Actually, a lot of the activity in hackerspaces would be impossible weren’t it for the fact that China has become our global workshop. There is no way other than massive robot usage in which we can ever dream to meet the current price-performance ratio of the Chinese manufacturing base. Also, do not forget that current shipping all over the globe is probably one of the last things to survive through the permanent oil crisis we have just entered. Simply because the energy expended lugging that container full of stepper motors for your repraps from Shanghai to Rotterdam or San Diego is actually pretty low. A shame that those massive container behemoths burn really dirty oil for that. Not even the next leg, either inland shipping over the river Rhine or over rail from San Diego elsewhere in the USA (granted, electrifying US rail networks would be a big win and will be inevitable). It is the last hundred or so kilometers that are the really energy-intensive part of those steppers’ journey.

Personal fabrication only makes sense for niche products such as spare parts and when access to the world’s supply chains is not really affordable. Which indeed means the developing world, but perhaps also rural communities in a not so distant future in which the world has stopped shrinking and has expanded again because oil is not so cheap anymore.

All of this does not mean that the GVCS is not an incredibly interesting idea that doesn’t deserve support. It also doesn’t mean distract one jota from the fact that affordable CNC-machines and additive manufacturing will make craftmanship accessible again, without the five years minimum you have to spend to get a skillset need for say, advanced woodworking. In the past lots of us had great ideas that would require the collaboration of several disciplines and therefore execution would be difficult. Now that lasercutters,CNC-mills and 3D-printers are within reach of hobbyists and hackerspaces, these barriers are crumbling. Atoms may or may not become bits, but lasercutters are cool!

Help Hackerspaces Happen in Cairo and Elsewhere in Africa

maltman23 | Posted 2011.09.27 at 3:18 pm | Perma

3-Day Egyptian Maker Space
Maker Faire Africa is coming up next month, in Cairo, Egypt. It promises to be a three-day mashup of Africa’s most imaginative makers. And, at least two Americans will be joining them.

Bilal Ghalib (co-founder of All Hands Active hackerspace in Ann Arbor, MI, and hackerspace documentarian) and Mitch Altman (co-founder of Noisebridge hackerspace in San Francisco, CA, inventor of TV-B-Gone remote controls, and recent recipient of the first-ever Maker Hero Award) are going to Maker Faire Africa to create a three-day hackerspace there. This will help the founders of the Cairo Hackerspace establish their forming space into a physical reality which, in turn, will help get other hackerspaces going throughout Africa. We have recently seen how important hackerspaces are in helping people in Africa live more fulfilling lives. Let’s see how much more we all can do with so little!

Bilal and Mitch received seed funding from Maker Faire Africa, and at posting time, 147 backers have raised $6,822 over the past two weeks on their Kickstarter campaign!  They need to raise $200 more in the next several hours (and any amount over their goal will directly help hackerspaces in Africa!). If you can give a $1, please do! If you can give more, please do! Any amount is great! (And they are offering some pretty cool premiums too.)

3 Day Egyptian Maker Space – Expanding the Maker Movement

Hackerspace incorporation patterns

Walter | Posted 2011.09.26 at 4:50 pm | Perma

As a mere participant of Revelation Space, a hackerspace (or makerspace, if you will) in The Hague, who also happens to practice law (but not corporate law), I found this article on hackerspaces.org interesting. Interesting but incomplete. Incomplete because it doesn’t really explore perfectly reasonable combinations of the patterns described. Also incomplete, because it reeks of a reinventing the wheel, but poorly. Read more…

The world lost another hero….

Fish_ | Posted 2011.07.03 at 8:56 pm | Perma

Today the news came quite late to me, Len Sassaman lost his life.
I was shocked, I have met Len and Meredith about 6 months ago, they where visiting Utrecht for a crypto (of-course) meetup. Between the meets they had some time to visit the local hackerspace and have some breakfast. I remembered our conversations as intense and awesome. Len inspired me to go on with projects which seem to be endless or almost impossible. I don’t think I’m lying if I say Len was this for a lot of hackers: somebody who was different and a source of inspiration.

Although I wasn’t in contact very much with Len lately, I have chosen to write this blog and let people know what a great guy he was, please feel free to use the comment field as a condolence register.

All the best to Len’s wife, family, friends and everybody else who knew Len.

The world lost another hero….

Rest In Peace Len

*** Update ***
For those who would like to say goodbye to Len, Saturday 9th of July 12:00 (noon) at “De Jacht cemetery in Heverlee” in Belgium there will be the ceremony. Meredith is inviting everybody who would like to come.

Categories : hackers
Tags :   

Japan in Crisis: Tokyo Hackerspace is helping out

Fish_ | Posted 2011.03.16 at 6:06 pm | Perma

This is a copy from the Tokyo Hackerspace blog:
http://www.tokyohackerspace.org/en/japan-in-crisis

To all the people on the good planet Earth, the crew of Tokyo HackerSpace has a message that we would like to send to you:

By now, everyone knows of the crisis in northern Japan. It will still be a few weeks before life is under control here. We are looking forward to the day that the power plants are safe and the tremors have subsided.

Many of our members have been cooped up in our homes waiting out the storm, but not laying idle.

The Japanese government is doing the best that they can to manage the crisis and help people who have lost loved ones, homes, utilities and possessions.

Tokyo HackerSpace has already begun to lay plans for projects which we feel can help the people of Japan, utilizing the best of our abilities and resources.

Our first course of action has been to order up the required parts for 150 solar powered LED lanterns. We will be assembling them here and shipping them up (or delivering by hand) to aid organizations. These lanterns provide just enough light so that people can feel safe at night without power, find their way in the dark, and maintain the sense of community. They charge during the day via the sun, and will help to light the way for 8 hours each night.

We also have on the way several geiger counters and geiger tubes, from which we will be making community sensors, in order to help to keep the public in harms way informed on a minute by minute and hour by hour basis. While the initial exposure has been low, our concern is the long term effects, food and water supply, and ground soil conditions over the next several months.

Or longer term projects include solar cell phone charging stations, low energy cooking equipment, internet, wifi, and laptop loans, and other technical concerns.

We are calling upon Hacker Spaces all over the world, and friends of Hacker Spaces, and friends of friends of Hacker Spaces, to help out.

Soon we will release a list of critical equipment and supplies which we may have difficulty sourcing locally. If you have access to anything on the list, please contact us to make shipping arrangements. If not, please DO NOT ship us anything not on the list (In some cases, it may be VERY specific). Items not on our list will only crowd our space and waste your shipping money and time. If you have something specific or unique you think we could use, feel free to send us an email and inquire.

In the meantime, we ask that anyone who can, please donate to only reputable charities. Or, if you prefer, you may donate directly to us, and we will utilize it for the above mentioned projects, or give the money directly to Japanese aid organizations known to be doing good work in the area.

You can donate via Paypal to theTHSstore@gmail.com

Good night and good luck.


Race for the Future! Design it, build it, race it!

Jordan | Posted 2010.12.22 at 10:58 pm | Perma

Race to the Future

Attention all hackers and hackerspace members! Do you like creating with atoms instead of bits? Would you like to win fame and fortune? The Alternate Power Initiative wants YOU to design and build an alternative energy vehicle! Their second annual “Race for the Future” will be held in August, 2011 in Whiting, Indiana.

This race challenges you to:

Build a vehicle that can travel five miles powered by an alternate power source and race it through the streets of Whiting Indiana.

Here’s a subset of the rules:

  • Vehicle may not be powered solar energy or fuel cells
  • Vehicle may not be powered by a device based on existing conventional automotive or truck technology. Piston engines, rotary engines or turbines powered by detonated combustion gasses are not allowed. Piston engines, rotary engines or turbines powered by other sources will be allowed. These gasses would include but not be limited to those created by using gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane methane or alcohol as fuel.
  • Vehicle must be self propelled (no pedal power)
  • Vehicle may not be powered by battery or capacitor stored electricity, (brake lights and turn signals may be powered by electricity).
  • Vehicle may be charged, (fueled or energized) before 5 mile trial but may not be charged, (fueled or energized) during run.

For full details, visit their website at http://alternatepowerinitiative.com!

Here are the rules and the entry form.

Better hurry! There are only 20 entries, and hackerspace Pumping Station: One has already claimed two of them! Who will be next?

If you sign up, please post in the comments!


Ethical hacking vs. DoS: a workshop session at Revelation Space

Fish_ | Posted 2010.12.13 at 11:44 pm | Perma

In response to recent press coverage of Denial of Service attacks on numerous websites, and the arrest of a teenager from the metropolitan area of The Hague, the hackerspace Revelation Space in The Hague, The Netherlands, calls for a meeting on ethical hacking.

The arrested teenager, who was allegedly involved in the attacks on websites of MasterCard and other companies that obstructed Wikileaks‘ activities, was known to visit the hackerspace and was a regular in its online chatroom. This is what motivated members of Revelation Space to bring attention to the subject of ‘ethical hacking’.

Disrupting websites with a ‘Distributed Denial of Service’ attack (DDoS) or by any other means does not align with the ethics of the hacker community. Koen Martens, founder of Revelation Space, responds to the actions of Anonymous, ‘I liken a Denial of Service attack to slapping someone in the face when you run out of arguments to prove someone wrong.’

A hacker is a creative and curious individual, someone who wants to find out how things work and perhaps tries to find flaws in their design. An ethical hacker will act responsibly with the knowledge gained and will not abuse this knowledge. An ethical hacker is aware of the consequences of his or her actions, or the sharing of the gained knowledge, and will always strive to operate within the boundaries of law.

As such, the attacks on sites such as MasterCard have nothing to do with hacking. Anyone can download, install and start a computer program in order to become part of a coordinated online crime. There is no creativity involved: DDoS attackers generally use existing tools without realising how these work.

Although legal action is part of a proper response to the action of this minor ‘script kiddie’, it must be acknowledged, that everyone has made mistakes in their youth they are not proud of. The young man and his accomplices should not be excluded from the community. They should be shown a better way to reach a goal. One of the hackerspace’s members admits, that as a teenager he also did not always consider the consequences of his actions, and explains, ‘What really helped me was the interaction with real hackers, people with a sense of ethics. We can do much more for this young man in the context of hacker ethics, than the people who raise him.’

The event will be held on Saturday, December 18th, from 12.30 till 06.00 PM CET, at the Revelation Space hackerspace, Binckhorstlaan 172, Den Haag, The Netherlands. The meeting is organised in cooperation with the Hxx Foundation, the Utrecht hackerspace Randomdata, and the Dutch chapter of the international hacker collective 2600.

Contributing to the meeting will be, amongst others: IT lawyers Arnoud Engelfriet (ICTRecht) and Walter van Holst (Mitopics, EDRi board member), internet journalist Brenno de Winter (NU.nl, Webwereld.nl, The Security Update podcast), veteran hacker Hans van de Looy (Madison Gurkha), and Jurre van Bergen (ethical hacker with a special interest in government sites).

Everyone is invited to this session. Members of the press are explicitly invited to attend. Please note that the main language will be Dutch.

Categories : hackers  hackerspace  meetup

Announcing The OpenDoor Hackathon!

Jordan | Posted 2010.11.22 at 9:12 pm | Perma

The OpenDoor Hackathon is a hackathon to benefit the members of hacker/maker/artist/co-working spaces by creating a standardized, Open Source access and membership management system that can be used by everyone. At the end of the hackathon, the systems (or subsystems) created by each space will be voted upon, and the best system (or combination of systems) will be chosen. Implementing the system afterward is, of course, optional.

Why are we doing this?
I know, the word “standardized” sends chills down my spine too, but I assure you that this is a good thing! Deciding upon a common system would enable the following things:

  • The ability to share membership between spaces
  • Crowd-sourced security enhancements and feature additions
  • Easier membership management
  • A warm fuzzy feeling of being connected with other spaces

What we’re envisioning (and what many of you already have) is a sort of Reciprocikey or Space Passport system. We believe that the only way to create such an awesome system is to work together on it!

More Focus for your brain meats:

Prize of an Ice Tube Clock from Adafruit for the space who best implements the standardization of interface specification between custom softwares and access control. Each space will review submissions at x time on Sunday and rank the systems they would most like to use (you cannot vote for your own). The runner up will receive a Minty Boost pack.
You can also vote on best hardware system, most elegant code, best independent member management software – the top three of each will receive Minty Boost packs, also via Adafruit.

Systems needed:

  • Software for access control (reads from memory stored users and network user databases)
    • Create a functional specification for how authentication can be done securely.
  • Software that manages membership rights (grants rights/features to users based on conditions specified by managers
    • Standardize an interface specification for how custom software can talk to the access control software interface.
      • example: 3rd party space has a member visiting, presents auth token.
      • example: someone wants to create a custom trusted UI (web, phone, etc.) for talking to the auth daemon
  • Web, phone, etc UI for membership management and access control software
    • Involve user interface management.  See what tools people are using today to manage membership and build hooks in the software to manage access control, or build your own.
  • Hardware for reading identity (RFID reader, USB stick, etc.)
    • Build plug-ins to support common hardware (don’t get stuck on any given vendor).

When is the OpenDoor Hackathon?
The OpenDoor Hackathon will begin on Saturday, December 11th at 2pm PST, ending 24 hours later at 2pm PST on Sunday, December 12th.

How do I sign up?
You can register your space’s team at the Eventbrite here!

Join the conversation at http://groups.google.com/group/opendoorhack-a-thon!