Tuesday, 22 April 2008

RE: Navel Grazing.

Karl wrote a very interesting Blog Post here: http://mothchronicles.blogspot.com/2008/04/naval-gazing.html

I want to comment on some of the issues and but wanted to do this outside of a comment context and so here it is in a blog post.

I work with and am project admin for some open source projects I also work with SAP Java technologies. I can not really blog too much about my thoughts here as it may compromise me professionally. However I understand a bit about OpenSourse and closed source corporate software development. So how do these ideas translate into Moth production?

Development of software and Moths is very different. Software is easy and fast to produce and modify. It is used by many consumers and there are many people that have the skill to improve it. Where as a prototype Moth takes longer to build and the community of users is much smaller. Once a prototype is produced the expensive tooling for a production run can be started. So if we are to compare the two production processes we have to take in to account the different time frames.

It has always been the case that a Moth builder develops a boat normally for themselves and makes a small production run of their original prototype. John Claridge, Andy Patterson, Roger Angel, Mark Thorpe... the list is long. The Bladerider is attracting a lot of new blood in to the fleet because it offers a good quality packaged product which is familiar to consumers idea of buying a thing. This new blood can have their packaged product or use it as a base to play with new development ideas. Some of these product consumers are then becoming the prototype deveopers by fitting new ropes, or fittings or making other changes etc...

Paternts are evil and bullshit. The Bladerider patents could not be enforced because the "innovation" in them had been done before in the Moth class by others. These pattent have expired and are not valid in any legal sense. Any patents of this sort will not only have to pass the legal requirements in the Nations where the patent are applied for they also have to pass the community test of "Hey I saw something like that on a boat at the Nationals in ....". Since no ideas are made in a vacuum patents are unlikely to pass this test. The only problem is that in some countries (with very bad patent law made by lawyers for in oder to protect the interests of lawyers) Patents are not contested until they are challenged. That means you could say that an 11ft long Moth is your idea and it is up to users of the idea to pay for the layers to prove that this has been done before. This is my understanding of these issues but I am not a Patent layer. So in my humble opinion Patents are evil and restrict innovation but due to the strong open development community in the Moth class they are not an immediate threat to our open development community.

The Bladerider have applied traditional corporate tactics to market their product and have been very successful but the development behind it came from established Moth sailors, like other successful Moth design. I do not know of any super designers that have had any success in the Moth class without sailing one. So the idea of a Moth design coming out of a computer alone from some design lab are way off, unless the design lab includes a lot of traveling to Moth events sailing and testing Moths.

There are also initiatives in the class where open development is encouraged such as the various forums and community websites and for those lucky enough to have a local fleet there is the dinghy park or pub where the best ideas are born.

The Flashheart design is licensed under the GPL. This is an open source initiative to give home builders data and a design for reference and to improve upon, if they wish.

The Gilmour Girls and Hungry Beavers are also a great example of guys getting together and pulling recourses to make a small production run of Moths.

Therefore I think Karl's rose colored view of the Open collaborative Moth class is there if you want to see it. You will also see a lot of off the self products where the development is in the color its painted. You can get what you want out of the Moth and it does not need to be a battle of evil corporation against hard working innovative inverter in the shed. The cooperation needs the Moth development community and they sell their products to the next generation of developers. If someone that buys an off the shelf product does not want to go on and develop their boat then that is fine too, as there will hopefully be more companies selling them a new one every few years.

1 comment:

Felix Schulte said...

Hi Doug,

I replied to this great post of yours on www.foilermoth.com