Open source model became well-known and increasingly popular over the past decades, not only in the software industry but also in other domains. A considerable number of objects on the internet is opened up for a free access turning into a megatrend of ‘open everything’ (Tooze et al., 2014). The basic organizing principle of open source is that ‘source code’ remains open and free of most constraints on copying and use, and no one can have exclusive ownership of it (Benkler, 2002). That openness provided by families of open source licenses; the most used ones, at the moment, are Creative Commons licenses (Hansen & Howard, 2013). Raasch et al. (2009) propose the term Open Source Innovation (OSI) in order to generalize the OS model and make it independent of an industry. “OSI is characterized by the free revealing of information on a new design with the intention of collaborative development of a single design or a limited number of related designs for market or non- market exploitation” (p. 383).
OSI, as a generalized model, serve for the development of both tangible and intangible objects called, consequently, open content and open design. Open content deals with digital realm and its objects (e.g. GitHub, Wikipedia), while open design describes hardware and other physical objects (e.g. Wevolver, WikiHouse). In case of open design, a significant part of the design process can be performed digitally, but the main goal is physical object production (Raasch et al., 2009). An open design project exists as the ongoing process of product development and shall be seen as a community of like-minded people (i.e. community of practice) rather than a traditional design project. Consequently, such projects do not match conventional design science approach where a project has clear inputs and outputs within a defined timeframe, therefore demand specific digital platforms (Bonvoisin & Boujut, 2015).
Yochai Benkler (2003) argues that open source projects indicate the beginning of a social, technological, organizational and economic transformation of the society towards a new mode of production called commons-based peer production (CBPP). Peer production, “a process by which many individuals, whose actions are coordinated neither by managers nor by price signals in the market, contribute to a joint effort that effectively produces a unit of information or culture” (2003, p. 1254), along with technological innovation can generate commons-based innovation not limited by current attempts of peer production of intangible goods, such as Open Source Software (OSS) but also tangible goods, such as Open Source Hardware (OSHW).