Sebastopol, CA--While the concept of open source software is widely understood and generally accepted today, mention of open source hardware can elicit an emotional response ranging from barefaced skepticism to unbridled zeal. "As a trusted colleague suggested recently, putting the words 'open,' 'source,' and 'hardware' next to one another in a sentence is a sure way to cure insomnia among business people," says Jimmy Guterman, editor of Release 2.0. The reaction is not surprising considering how unformed our notion of open source hardware is relative to that of open source software and the number of questions yet to be answered: What part of hardware can be 'open'? How will communities participate in its development? What business models will make it attractive and profitable? How can production of the components be managed to keep projects open and at the same time affordable?
These questions and others are explored in Issue 6 of Release 2.0 as it takes a look at the current state of open source hardware and its emerging role in business. The newsletter presents new tools and technologies that are on the verge of changing how hardware is designed, produced, and sold. It touches on how open source hardware will radically alter the shape of the hardware manufacturing industry: "What old-school appliance makers fear is precisely the problem solved by open source hardware," Guterman reports. And "The Secrets Big Companies Should Know About Open Source Software" offers a practical roadmap for companies assessing the benefits of this business model.
"Open source changed the business of software irrevocably, in ways ranging from how we produce and license software to how we maintain and distribute it," says Guterman. "Although it's still early on, we're seeing strengthening signals that the same thing may happen as hardware opens up to open source."
To those who argue that open source hardware is merely a hobbyist fad, Guterman says, "A fundamental article of faith at O'Reilly, one justified over and over, is that it's hackers, innovators, and alpha geeks--in a word, hobbyists--who provide the most reliable early warning signals as to where technology and the business of technology are going. As we explore in this issue of 'Release 2.0,' it's the promise of open source hardware that's entrancing many of those emerging leaders."
Release 2.0, the bi-monthly newsletter for business leaders and technology decision-makers, published by O'Reilly Media, brings early intelligence and thought-provoking analysis of the ideas, people, and companies driving world-changing technology trends. In Release 2.0, O'Reilly Radar gathers the best minds to provide an advance detection system for the future, spotlighting technology's inflection points and game-changing innovations.
Issue 6 of the newsletter also includes regular Release 2.0 features such as "The Number," in which the Radar team zeros in on one statistic in business and technology, exploring what is happening behind that number. In this issue, "The Number" evaluates how the international social networking market looks much different from that of the US. "The Canon," which looks at books, articles, websites, and other sources that offer timeless ideas and approaches, suggests two slender, provocative volumes that can change the way you see your business and your world. And finally, the "Calendar" highlights some of the technology and business events that are on the Radar team's radar and should be on yours.
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O’Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O’Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying “faint signals” from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.