Musing about 21st century irritations and concerns and the Because Effect

Here’s how an article I was reading started:

WHAT do a bicycle that goes faster over bumps, a lever that allows car pedals to be operated by hand and a pedal-powered washing machine have in common?

I know, I’m easy that way. I was hooked, so I read on. You can find a stub to the article here, the New Scientist is not yet new enough to let me share the whole thing. [Are you listening, New Scientist?]

The article itself makes a simple and oft-repeated premise, that necessity breeds invention.

For some time now, I’ve tried to express the premise in today’s context. And it goes like this:

Opensource people don’t ask “What’s the business plan?”, “What’s the exit strategy?” “How shall we make money with this?” Opensource people build things to solve problems that they see and understand. Opensource people intuitively get the Because Effect: they don’t expect to make money with the solutions they build, they expect to make money because of those solutions.

Incidentally, there’s a YouTube video showing one of the inventions quoted, so it will give those who are paywall-blocked some idea of what the article is about. Like most other inventions, I am sure it didn’t happen in a vacuum, and that similar ideas sprung up in similar times all over the place. But that’s not the point of this post.

What this post is about is three things:

One, the article was about “deviant research”. And you know something? I took some time thinking about precisely what I would enter into Google as my search term. I took some time to make sure all my filters were DefCon Five. I thought about it, then decided that all I needed to do was to enter “deviant research” with the quotation marks.

Two, I thought about the headline I would associate with the article. Somehow I did not relish the idea that someone else entering the term “deviant research” would be led to my site. So I decided to leave the term out of the headline. Sure, someone may tag it that way and still foil my plans, but that’s what folksonomies are for. And I will live with the outcome.

Three, I thought about ways to expose more of the article. I would normally not do that, but I was spurred by reading another article in the same issue. Can you imagine the irony of someone sticking an article headlined “Information Wants to Be Free” behind a paywall? [As Don Marti said,  Information does want to be $6.95]

Worrying about the search terms you use. Thinking hard about how someone else might index your post. Scurrying around behind paywalls. I wonder what people in the 22nd century will make of all this. Fossil fools, Chris?

5 thoughts on “Musing about 21st century irritations and concerns and the Because Effect”

  1. “Opensource people intuitively get the Because Effect: they don’t expect to make money with the solutions they build, they expect to make money because of those solutions.”

    I think I have to be a stick-in-the-mud here and ask just where the supporting data points are. I had a friend who did some really good social network analysis of Python development activity; and, believe me, there were NO monetary expectations in that community, neither the “with” kind nor the “because” kind. If anything, this study supported the hypothesis that people get involved with opensource development into order to achieve a sense of BELONGING TO A COMMUNITY that they cannot achieve where they work. This hypothesis says a lot of things. One of them is that opensource people seem to live by the Tristano philosophy of making money with a “day job” and seeking personal satisfaction elsewhere (whether or not the “day job” benefits):

    http://confusedofcalcutta.com/2007/09/17/musing-about-delayed-patronage/#comment-189310

  2. I have a product almost “ready for prime time.” It is an open source product. When I roll it out anybody who sees it will be able to engineer a product like it. But they won’t have put the thought into the development that I have. They won’t have spent the months that I have assembling open source components to address the business need that I saw and addressed with the product. I don’t expect to make money with the solution. I expect to make money because of the solution. As I sell this to large organizations, I will expand my community of interest and my product and skills will generate a cash flow because of the solution I am selling. My customers will make money with the solution.

    I think I’ve got this right. More later if the whole thing doesn’t crash and burn…

    :-)

  3. here you get full article, i got it from tmcnet,
    enjoy, keep up your enthu for open source
    [September 21, 2007]

    The word: Deviant research

    (New Scientist Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) WHAT do a bicycle that goes faster over bumps, a lever that allows car pedals to be operated by hand and a pedal-powered washing machine have in common?

    They are all examples of “deviant research”, so called because they were developed by amateurs trying to solve problems that dog their daily lives, rather than to make money. A pedal-powered washing machine

    , for example, was invented by Remya Jose (pictured), who as a 14-year-old schoolgirl from the Malappuram district of Kerala in south India found that the time it took to wash clothes by hand was getting in the way of her studies.

    Such grassroots innovations are driven by adversity, so they are often created by people who are prevented by problems of language, literacy or geography from getting their inventions into the hands of others who might have a use for them. As if these weren’t obstacle enough, deviant researchers risk being ridiculed by their own communities for daring to try to banish their problems in this way, rather than putting up with them like everyone else.

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    One effort to overcome those barriers and oil the wheels of deviant R&D is the Honey Bee Network
    , set up almost 20 years ago by Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. It was Gupta who coined the term “deviant research”. The network uses community organisations, local-language newspapers, multimedia presentations and other channels to find deviant researchers. It then connects them with each other and to scientists and other academics, who can test the inventions and provide help with patents and business plans.

    The Honey Bee Network is now the repository for more than 10,000 inventions. One example is a bike that goes faster when ridden on bumpy roads, developed by Kanak Das, who lives in an isolated part of north-east India. Energy from the shock absorbers is used either to help turn the pedals via a set of springs or, in Das’s latest prototype, to charge batteries, creating an electric bike.

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    The Honey Bee network also talent-spots inventors during its twice-yearly Shodh Yatra (Sanskrit for “walk to find knowledge”). These week-long treks take Gupta and a crew of facilitators through remote regions of India at a pace slow enough to stop, talk and find out who has invented what. The last one, through the Anantnag district of Kashmir, found Abdul Rashid Dar, inventor of a lever that locks onto a car’s clutch pedal, allowing people with limited use of their legs to operate it by hand.

    Now Gupta wants to dig out deviant researchers in the industrialised world. With that in mind, the 20th Shodh Yatra, the first outside of India, is being planned to start near Newcastle in north-east England as early as next month.

    Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information – UK. All Rights Reserved.

  4. Anil, great to see you here. I’m fascinated by what I hear about the Honey Bee network, and would love to help. Let me know what I can do.

  5. join us in shodh yatra from cambridge to north sea from sept 17-23

    see details at sristi.org,. ruth will give you more details

    see you there or some where

    anil

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