Open-source shoes

John Fluevog has decided to make “open source shoes.” As he says on this web site:

Got an idea for a shoe? Even for just part of a shoe? Scribble it down and send it to me. I don’t care if it’s on a bar napkin, as long as I can make it out.

The demented thing is, he actually means the part about “open source.” Grok this:

Once you’ve sent me your design, it becomes public domain — owned by nobody and freely available to all. Selection is then based on a combination of Peer voting, here on my website, and, well, if I like it. I might put it out as is, or make it the basis for a design of my own, or just use part of it … I take care of all the costs of development (it takes a year to produce a shoe … a year!), and I get your shoe onto the market, without having to put my prices up or go broke … Like I said, open-source is non-monetary. You get credit for your brilliance, and the shoes of your dreams become reality. With your name on them.

Christ almighty, it’s like this guy has actually read The Cathedral and the Bazaar! Which is, of course, Eric Raymond’s famous essay outlining the reasons open-source development works: People are motivated to do free work if they’ll get street cred and fame for it, if the work remains in the public domain, and if it’s fun. This kooky project satisfies all three criteria. (It even makes a joke about the infamous “monkey boy” presentation that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made at the 2001 Comdex.)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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