How to build an open hardware community?
We feel like we’ve come a long way with the development of Koruza and our other open hardware systems. However, if we want to move towards fulfilling our mission and make a real social impact empowering people to build their own last mile networks and other systems, we need to make our products as available and accessible as possible. We definitely need to devote more time and effort to communicate effectively about what we are doing and start building communities around our projects.
There is quiet some work to be done to build successful communication strategy: from defining goals and the audience to deciding on communication channels and tools we want to use. Not many similar open source open hardware projects exist out there to set a good practice to follow, therefore we’ll try to learn by doing and look at the strategies of open source projects from other fields and other existing directions for effective communication strategies.
We’ll need to find a comprehensive way for people to understand, build and use our hardware. Our first goal is therefore to improve documentation of our projects (plans, user manuals, assembly instructions, tutorials, etc.). In the study by OSHWA lack of quality documentation is described as one of the reasons why people don’t decide for open source open hardware, that’s why we want to pay a special attention to this and continue advocating for the Useful source vision.
Furthermore, we are deciding on which communication tools to use, so that members of our communities will be able to participate, contribute, collaborate and communicate among each other. We try to find out what will serve our communities best: forum, group chat, skype, wiki page, mailing discussion or a combination of mentioned.
As well, we’ll have to find the right combination of channels to communicate effectively with our existing users and update them on the progress and other news (blog, mailing list, Twitter, FB, other social media). We will also work on reaching people that don’t know us yet but might be interested in what we’re doing (conferences, other events, articles, social media).
At this point it’s difficult to say what form our community will take. However, what we need to do is start providing the tools to open the dialogue and enable collaboration.