The past decade has shown an almost exponential surge of activity in the world of ‘open source’. Yet, for some reason, the ‘open' initiatives remain on the outskirts of media coverage.

To change this, we are launching this new series of reports, opinion and analysis - The Economy of Open.

Our aim is to find people and organizations working to realize the ‘open (source) economy’.

Ultimately, we would like to know: Can we, the humanity, make Open Economy work for us? And if we can - how should we do it?

This is our first, collaborative, ‘open journalism’ project. And we invite you to take part in the investigation and reporting journey with us.

Read on to find out how to participate.


Over the last 16 months, since Scicasts Insights had been founded, we got a chance to speak to a large number of people, all of them working to facilitate the flow of knowledge from the academic world to the market and, eventually, to the people who need that knowledge.

Our initial goal at Insights was to uncover all we could about different ways of knowledge transfer and commercialization of scientific discoveries.

However, as we went along, we witnessed more and more examples of a new approach to handling knowledge and creations, guided by the universal human tendency - sharing and openness.

As we looked into novel business models of publishing, we discovered the Open Access and, ultimately, the Open Science movements. The paywalled publishing strategies may have survived for centuries before the arrival of internet technologies, yet the new principle of openness seems like something more attractive, more natural to us as human beings.

When we looked into the latest knowledge transfer strategies emerging around the world, such as the newborn science hubs in the UK or the knowledge partnership philosophy carried out by Innovate UK or UNSW in Australia, we saw universities moving away from their position as 'ivory towers'.

Rather, scientists today want to see their knowledge making an impact in the world and the knowledge transfer offices are at work to create opportunities for researchers and business people to engage in fruitful, long-lasting partnerships.

In our recent interview with a CERN researcher Javier Serrano and a CERN legal advisor Myriam Ayass, we also discovered that ‘making profit’ of research discoveries is not a top priority for their knowledge transfer team.

“Open Hardware for us is not only a way to spark collaborations between CERN and companies. It is also a philosophy,” said Myriam Ayass. “We want to have an impact on society by increasing compatibility between the research and the industry worlds."

This is not to say that the supporters of these 'Open knowledge’ movements do not wish to see their research outcomes commercialized.

“We think that a combination of open source and commercial is the winning one,” said Javier Serrano. "Companies are an essential ingredient in the open source movement. With our Open Hardware scheme, we wanted to prove that you can have both open source and commercial. But we still have to figure out how to make a living with an open source hardware."

It seems that a growing number of people are toiling away to find out exactly that - how we can make a living in a new world of 'open source’. And how we can ultimately make the world of ‘open’ a commercial reality.

Creative Commons, who for the past 15 years have been working "to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) available to the public for free”, are now writing an extensive overview and analysis of open business models to be released (licensed CC BY-SA) in November 2016.

In the meantime, the Open Source Ecology, an open collaborative of engineers, producers, and builders have been developing the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) now residing in Maysville, Missouri, USA. 

“The mission of Open Source Ecology (OSE) is to create the open source economy,” states their official website. "To get there, OSE is currently developing a set of open source blueprints for the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – a set of the 50 most important machines that it takes for modern life to exist – everything from a tractor, to an oven, to a circuit maker.”

Our new series - The Economy of Open

All these examples show an almost exponential surge of activity in the world of ‘open’. Yet, for some reason, the ‘open' initiatives remain on the outskirts of media coverage.

We have not seen any structured, in-depth reporting of the open movement as a whole and our editorial team at Scicasts decided to change this.

Here we launch a new series of reports, opinion and analysis - The Economy of Open.

Our aim is to discover people, companies and non-profit organizations who have been working to make ‘open economy’ a reality and who have, perhaps, until now remained unknown.

We want to ask them about their new initiatives and business models. We want to find out just how far and wide the open movement has already spread and where we are heading. Because we believe it is our duty as a media organization to bring this young initiative into the spotlight.

Ultimately, we would like to know: Can we, the humanity, make Open Economy work for us? And if we can - how should we do it?

Collaborate with our journalists

The first two articles in this series are about new ways to bypass a traditional patent system for knowledge transfer - Easy Access IP and Open Hardware Licenses.

Beyond that, we have compiled a list of people and organizations to start with - many of them are well-known figures in the open hardware (and software) movement. Our initial questions are:

  • How are universities, researchers, engineers and other knowledge creators opening up their knowledge and expertise pools? Which new ways of sharing knowledge are out there in the modern world?
  • How opening up the knowledge pools influences our education? What are the new, 'open education' models out there?
  • What business models already exist to make the open source approach sustainable? How do they work? What do we need to change or add?

These topics are potentially immense and there is little chance that a handful of journalists can find the answers on our own. Which is why we want to make this our first, experimental 'open journalism’ project. 

We 'open up' our investigation and reporting process - and invite you to take active part in it.

Tell us - what topics you would like to hear about? Who should we speak to? If you know someone involved in an open source project or have your own story to share, reach out and let us know.

We also invite you to contribute by writing your own stories and (especially) opinion pieces that we will include in the series. Please get in touch if you would like to participate.

You can contact me, Kristina Popova, directly via email k.popova [at] scicasts [dot] com or Twitter @kmpopova, or leave a response in the comments section below.

I will be collecting your suggestions, arranging interviews with people that you recommend and overseeing this project. Throughout the series, I will be reporting back here in The Economy of Open section and send out bi-weekly email briefings about my investigation to all participants and registered Scicasts users.

You can join the Scicasts community for free to stay on top of the updates.

This is our first collaborative journalism project and we are very keen to make it work, together with you.