Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

The craft world needs open source

My 2011 resolution was to get more of my craft stuff online.  Peddle it on etsy, post photos online, join forums, etc.  I kinda have.  My etsy store has been relatively successful, and I've gleaned lots of helpful tips from just getting to know the general craft blogosphere.

Like most crafters, I'm a woman.  Unlike most crafters, I'm an engineer/computer geek.  My whole life I've experienced the conflicts that occur because the worlds of science and women don't intersect enough, and this is another example.

As a geek, I am bothered by two big things:

1) Tutorials online often come with "terms of service", specifically saying that you may not sell anything you make using the tutorial.

2) Patterns for seemingly simple things are being sold for a profit.  This originally annoyed me because it's flooding etsy searches with uselessness... I want to buy a knit hat, not make one!  And to compound the issue etsy's search tool ["hat -pattern"] is unintuitive and unreliable... oh yes I have complained to them.  But I digress.

The pattern sales also annoy me because I feel like they're in bad spirit.  I even saw a cross-stitch pattern of Tux the Linux penguin for sale on etsy.  Really?  Larry Ewing so nicely gave the world this special penguin, and you can't give away the pixelated, tiny boxes version?

Dear crafters: open up!

Who's it gonna hurt if someone makes your silly little zipper bag and sells it on etsy?  Maybe they're making it out of really unique fabric, maybe the sales is their motivation for improving on your design.  In fact that's what open source is all about... improving on each other's designs.  That means getting the designs to start with, sure, but it also means giving people the freedom to take your work and do with it what they will.

The creators of the open source movement envisioned a utopia, where millions of coders would work for a greater world.  If you had a feature that would improve, say, your printer, you'd get into the code and make the improvement.  Then you'd tell everyone else about it.  And odds would be, because you're so smart, some widget company would call you up and say "we need our printer to do *this*, we'll pay you" and you would do that and also give that code away.  Because the company doesn't need to own the code, they just need to have it, and that's how the world goes around.  De-centralize the power structures.  A bazaar, not a cathedral.

It's a new way of thinking but it's done wonderful things for the computer world.  Open source operating systems like Linux and FreeBSD are the force behind 90% of the web servers you pull content from every day.  You do not need a computer science degree to understand the principles of open source, we can all take lessons from it.

I've only posted a few tutorials, like my skirt pattern calculator that helps you make arcs for flared skirts, but if there's anything you ever see in my etsy shop that's complicated enough that you want to know what's behind it, let me know.

Crafters can benefit from these concepts in ways we can't even imagine.  Anything can be open source.  Anything can be improved.  You never know when someone has something valuable to add to your design.

Free the crafts!
Tags: crafts, etsy, geek culture
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