Open sourcing and mass customization

Internet

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purse_inset

Open sourcing has been around for a long time, and examples such as scripts written by users for Firefox continue that original tradition. But it seems the Internet (with the aid of Google) has allowed open sourcing to take off in other fields, such as in the case of cooking recipes and even brewing beer. At Craftster, an open forum where users show and discuss their creations and ideas, members often offer detailed, step-by-step tutorials of how to make their inventions for everyone else to use.

I decided to try my hand at making the slouchy hobo bag offered by tinafish, a Craftster member. Above is my rendition, made out of materials bought at a local thrift store: scrap fabric, a men’s belt, and parts off of a necklace for the zipper adornment. The total cost of materials for this purse was less than $2, and though it’s obviously not Prada, I suppose there’s something to be said for benefits of recycling. Curious? You can see many other “customizations”, both new and recycled, on the forum’s long thread on Craftster.

This has made me wonder whether open sourcing might be the cheapest and fastest implementation of mass customization, that holy grail that almost all businesses and retailers ultimately seek. (Just look at Amazon’s innovations on personalized content over the years.) Now, I’m not saying that open sourcing and making money necessarily go hand in hand, but it seems the potential for something useful to come out of this collaboration would be high. At the very least, open sourcing might encourage people to try their hand at making things again, rather than simply purchase things already pre-made, and greater innovation should follow merely from having more people trying, and making, new things.

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