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Notes from the Meta group

Topic Type: 
Idea

FarmHack RISD – Meta Notes The Need Develop a template Communicate the design process Tools exist at an industrial scale Scale them down Less power/ capital intensive These aren’t new ideas Find the market Network of farmers Fab lab – nuture business Demand Root washer - $50 materials + $20/hr*50 hrs Instructibles.com Open source is about reputation, not monetary compensation Framework for designing and producing cheap, scale appropriate, local tools Accessibility – open source design Inspiring precedent – amish/Mennonite, local motors, instructibles.com, bio-gas Industrial manufacturing does not serve community scale farming Farmers can DIY – or create a sector of small scale manufacturing Farmhack is a social technology, like CSA Define the market Support current processes Sustainable businesses perpetuate themselves Profit is secondary to purpose “fair rate” of return There currently isn’t a model to make this profitable Local economies shape their own destinies – autonomy Expand market share of local food Production Communicating design document Business model – for production Create incentives to work with universities – template Get over the hump of manufacturing the first prototype – kickstarter? Model Publish designs for free Sell kits Sell finished product Forum to figure out financing 2 phases – R &D and manufacturing – need business models for both Pooling resources – finding common needs Relationship building required In person – build the brain trust Validates online interaction Building reputation Website is simply a venue for making themselves available Lists of designs People and their skills User profiles? List yourself as a contact for a tool List of tools with people – flip it! – list of people with tools This is like etsy

Louis's picture

So it seems like there is some interest in developing the framework of Farm Hack in several directions.

Right now, the site was developed with collaborative R&D and networking in mind. It seems that there is perhaps some interest in the following activities:

1) spreading out R&D costs: this could be like Kickstarter, except no need to give them a 5% commission. The reward structure seems like a great thing and it very much like a CSA in a way: you pay before the development process when funds are needed and as a result, you get a discounted product. I think we could very easily have a forum for this based out of the current infrastructure and see if it gets used. If it does, something a little more streamlined like Kickstarter might be justified. Also, if a project doesn't meet its objective within just our community, it might make sense to go to Kickstarter afterwards.

2) a marketplace: a place to buy kits and finished products. Once again, this could be done informally within the existing infrastructure until it proves necessary to tailor the site to this function; just create a section on the tool that offers where to buy said product.

In conclusion, all these things can be accomplished with the site as it stands; we have tool pages, a wiki, and a forum. Web 2.0 is about user contribution - the site is only as good as a community makes it. Nothing is to stop us from creating a wikipedia entry about ourselves and linking what tools we have to offer. Nothing is to stop me from creating the "Hackstarter" forum by creating a tool like I'm about to do. Once the site starts getting pushed in one direction or another, then maybe there will be a need for an infrastructure overhaul but these wikis and forums can be distorted to do almost anything you want - let's hack this site! (by hack this site, I do not mean attempt to take it down :P)

Leanna's picture

Hope this is helpful!

R.J. Steinert's picture

Sweet! I pasted that doc into a wiki page. I encapsulated the pasted text with the HTML "pre" tag to get all of the formatting you did with spaces.

Leanna's picture

Hackstarter sounds like an excellent idea. Would partnering up with people like Slow Money be helpful? Approaching universities with specific projects might be an easy way to get access to grants or other funding for R and D, especially if Farm Hack could partner with someone doing their master's thesis or other research. Or perhaps a combination of both?

The online market place seems like a necessary step in making products available!

Dorn's picture

Right on...An online marketplace to move R&D to a next step could bring together enough folks to both demonstrate need if outside funders (kick starter/foundations/other grant makers) would like validation/documentation, and it would reduce the development cost if the project is funded internally by coordinating orders, doing small production runs etc.... I especially like the idea of tapping into university projects. I could see projects going both ways - some originating at the university and finding legs to get to the next stage on farm hack, and projects that are stuck (eg. technical barrier, documentation, testing, prototype needed etc.) on farm hack moving forward because of assistance from student projects, university machine shops etc.

Many grants require public posting of results, and Farm Hack could be written in as the dissemination method for grant funded projects. It would also be a good place to cruise to get ideas for new projects to work on for funding proposals.

I think we talked at RSDI about something that might be a cross between an etsy type market place for farmhack tools and kickstarter type function for funding R&D? Cool stuff...

R.J. Steinert's picture

I'm loving the discussion here. I'm all for using the tools we have and using outside tools at the same time. There are two concepts I want to throw out there for funding open source research and development.

Bounty

In open source lingo, a bounty is sum of money offered for completing a development task that will be open sourced. In my experience this often starts as someone saying in a projects issue queue (a project issue queue is equivalent to a Tool's Forum) saying, "Hey! I need this thing done real bad," and then another person saying, "Ya! Me too but I don't know how to get it done," and then maybe some other people echoing the desire. The folks with the need then get together and dedicate some funds to complete it (or services or whatever) for someone to do it. Because they are talking about it in that project's issue queue, someone who knows how to complete that task and also has an interest in doing so eventually comes along and they strike a deal. w00t! The key here being the proximity of those who need something done and those who can complete the task, a network effect of saying, "Hey we need this, here's some funds," and someone close by saying, "I can do that."

Reverse Bounty

Before there was Kickstarter, there was Reverse Bounty. A developer wants to get something done so they say, "Hey world! If you also want to get this thing done then pay me x number of dollars and I'll be able to do that!" The only thing Kickstarter added was a deadline for funding, and boy does that work! I've seen reverse bounties take YEARS.. unfortunately. The deadline creates a sense of urgency, but it also gives folks a sense that they are allocating a certain amount of funds in a specific time period and that matters in the real world where a tool is worth something to you in the next 60 days but might not be worth anything to you a year from now.

My conclusion

So if someone creates a Reverse Bounty (Kickstarter)/Bounty to do a production run of a Tool and they mention it on that Tool's Wiki page or Forum, they get that network effect of people with the same needs being close by jumping in.