Open Know-How Event

The MakerNet Alliance is developing an open standard to improve sharing how to make things on the world wide web. 

In July we are bringing together specialists and stakeholders from across the world to Warsaw to progress what we are calling “Open Know-How”. The event will progress version 1 of a specification that can be tested with existing documented hardware and knowledge sharing platforms.

Attendees represent humanitarian, science, medical and more generalist open-hardware interest groups and the ambition is a specification that applies to all types of hardware. 

The problem to be solved

With dozens of open hardware organisations and over 80 content-hosting platforms and thousands of designers sharing open hardware designs there is little consistency as to how know-how is documented or shared. Makers struggle to locate what they need, not knowing which platform to find it, what the intended use is and therefore struggle to adapt designs. Whilst the knowledge is ‘open’ is not freely flowing in the spirit that open-ness suggests.

Knowledge, unlike data or information, is tacit. Documentation and representation of knowledge can take different forms for different types of hardware, audience and specifying how knowledge is represented can limit innovation and usability in different contexts. Therefore, this specification introduces a maturity model for increasing specifications for knowledge. The intent is that a designer or platform can choose to adopt this specification appropriately, rather than an over-prescriptive approach that disincentives adoption. Later iterations of this standard will include specifications for different representations of knowledge, but this at this stage the scope is limited to supporting the discoverability of open hardware regardless of where it resides on the World Wide Web.

The Approach

Through the specification, we are introducing a progressive approach to making knowledge about hardware interoperable using the maturity levels defined below.

Level 1 – Discoverable Know-How
Allows know-how to be discovered, indexed and linked to using meta-data about the thing and the location of know-how.

Level 2 – Portable Know-How
Provides a format and structure for know-how so that it is represented in a consistent format and can be easily moved between platforms.

Level 3 – Distributed Know-How
Supports interoperability, creation and aggregation of know-how about a thing by different designers and makers without centralised control of the know-how. 

Next Steps

Through the event and in version 1 of the specification we are focussing on Level 1, discoverable know-how, and following the event we will continue to engage with the wider Open Know-How working group to develop an approach that meets the needs of the wider community.

You can follow the progress of the specification as it progresses on StandardsRepo, an open repository for developing and publishing standards.  All background to the specification is contained in the Wiki pages and we anticipate that the first version will be published by the end of August 2019.

To get involved with the Open Know-How Working Group please contact us.