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Giving Things Away is Hard Work

Mandiberg argues that giving things away is hard work. We’re familiar at this point with the kinds of immaterial open-source projects that are “given away” and generally have a specific legal framework for their dissemination. The argument here is that while using/rewriting code involves only access to a keyboard and mouse and/or coding language, material objects’ reproduction involves someone actually purchasing tools and equipment to reproduce an idea. Mandiberg gives a number of examples of how difficult it can be to disseminate DIY design projects. In the case of a Bright Idea Shade — a project offered to Urban Outfitters — copyright fears impeded adoption. However, in the case of a book written on a Wiki, providing a legal framework upfront gave the publisher ample time to secure the proper clearance for production and dissemination. Finally a “retroreflective” bike DIY project is successfully adopted by a local vinyl supplier and achieves some success. Given that each of these projects appeals to some putative social good, I wonder weather DIY projects that are free require this stipulation… In reference, to Mandiberg’s cousin’s remark, she may have elicited a different reaction had this project contained no perceived social good.

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