Since 2005 I have been a strong advocate for the development of open source appropriate technology (OSAT). Since then much has happened on this front. It was an idea that I can hardly take credit for, as this was something fermenting in the minds of innovators all around the world. Chris Watkins of Appropedia has started to put together a rough history of OSAT, combined with a wikified index of web-based writings on the topic.
After reviewing this, it’s encouraging to realize the conceptual and practical advances that we have made as a community in the years past. Just have a listen to the podcasts on this topic on the Agroinnovations Podcast. Pioneers like Anil Gupta have made it their life’s work to move forward the OSAT agenda; and projects such as Full Belly and Appropedia are tackling the challenges of OSAT head-on.
But, with our economic reality unraveling and Peak Oil smashing our society in the teeth, I am starting to wonder if our movement will be able to move fast enough to respond to events. Now more then ever do we need OSAT to rebuild an economy in collapse. We can fill the void being left by the destruction of 20th century manufacturing models, but we have to move quickly and effectively while there is still time.
Now, there are more questions than answers. Can we convince the world of the vital importance of our model? Can we use the remaining infrastructure of a society in tailspin to build real business models that are more compatible with small, distributed, and community-based production? Will we be able to mobilize the massive investment of resources required to move this agenda forward?
Let’s face it, we are a diffuse community, many of us working on OSAT either conceptually or practically as a secondary or tertiary project, while we all try to dedicate the necessary resources to maintaining our families. We all have a stake in the world as it is, whether we believe in OSAT or not. What comes next is anyone’s guess. But, for now, we need to ask ourselves these all important question: what three things will move OSAT forward at the pace that economic collapse requires? And, what do we have to do to implement those three things? Let the conversation begin.