At PICNIC Festival 2012, Bas van Abel encourages manufacturers to “open up” their systems and hardware and give users the means to tinker with their electronic devices. Ultimately, this will give people the power to understand them and take responsibility for the way they are made.

Using the example of his son’s Nintendo and the ‘digital anorexia’ in the world of technological devices, Bas van Abel, Head of the Waag's Open Design Lab, explains that it is important to be able to open stuff so that people can engage with the product they buy.Taking this form of ‘ownership as engagement’ from the Maker’s movement behind Makezine (a magazine for people who enjoy making things themselves), Bas believes that applying the open source principles to ‘real stuff’ will enable people to engage, take action and make a change in traditional processes and systems. 

So, how do you design something that is not created for the dump and that encourages ownership?

Bas illustrates the possibilities with the Fairphone initiative, one that he heads at the Waag Society. By exploring the invisible systems behind our products – from mineral mining conflicts in Congo to the business models that create closed and "designed for the dump" phones - we know what actions are needed to change the system.

It is Bas' belief that "ownership through opening" will catalyze more responsibility, both within the industry and within society.



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