You are currently browsing the Cesar Harada posts tagged: community

Open Hardware for the Environment Questions


Thanks to Andrea Grover, I got these highly relevant questions about Open Hardware for the Environment from Hiroyuki Hamada. With his permission, I am transferring these questions here on my blog, to perhaps integrate the FAQ of Protei new website.


>> Have you met any resistance from governmental organizations or industry people for not conforming to the traditional business model or simply be seen as a threat?
I think we have been too small to be seen as a threat to anyone for now, but we hope that as we grow, this will not happen. We really want to serve government, industry, academia and residents (environmental activists) as a neutral technology platform for science and environmental remediation. Our technology is very new, in comparison flying drones have attracted much more serious and deserved criticism, it is a matter of time I guess. Any technology can be used for malicious ends, we need to work on best practice and I personally will not support military applications of our technology.
Our business model is based on an Ethical Order of Priority that puts the environment first. This is the shift that our civilisations need to take if they are interested to continue existing in the future. Joi Ito puts it very well here :

One hundred years from now, the role of science and technology will be about becoming part of nature rather than trying to control it.

So much of science and technology has been about pursuing efficiency, scale and “exponential growth” at the expense of our environment and our resources. We have rewarded those who invent technologies that control our triumph over nature in some way. This is clearly not sustainable.

We must understand that we live in a complex system where everything is interrelated and interdependent and that everything we design impacts a larger system.

My dream is that 100 years from now, we will be learning from nature, integrating with nature and using science and technology to bring nature into our lives to make human beings and our artifacts not only zero impact but a positive impact to the natural system that we live in.

I agree with this statement, and I believe is that this way of thinking should not be postponed to a hundred years from now, but put in practice immediately to re-think our philosophical, economic, industrial and social models. I am lucky enough to start a project from a blank slate and incorporate these into my group strategy, vision and daily operations.

>> How do you enforce the conditions for the open hardware partnership? Patent issues? And most importantly, how do you make sure that the ethical concerns–the environmental concerns–to be the central to the projects? Have there been any legal cases involving open hardware?
Any technological device that’s complex enough, comes with a user agreement and some sort of disclaimer limiting the liability from the manufacturer in case of misuse of the technology / accident incurred. If it was expensive enough it might even come with a warranty. If the technology is recent and occupies a significant market segment, it is likely that the technology will be licensed / patented in order to guarantee the industrial an exclusivity on the intellectual property, the manufacturing, distribution, branding and marketing of a technology. Each person in this traditional chain protects their interests, monopoly, maximise their own profit with a reduced transparency.

It is in the interest of everyone in the Open Hardware community (makers and users are the same people) that the technologies progresses fast. That’s even more clean when it is to address environmental issues. When we publish our work, we publish it as alpha or beta on the public web under an open licence.   So far we have been using :

We are in the process of developing our own “flavour” of Open Hardware license that we are calling Open Hardware H2O, that will be maintained by the non Profit organisation Open-H2O specifically for aquatic applications, similarly to how the CERN developed their own “Open Hardware CERN” license.
To date and in my knowledge, the Open Hardware license that we are using has not yet been challenged at the court (it is only 2 years old license). Of course, we do not want to see any Open Hardware company being abused but we are looking for our license to be validated through winning a litigation, making a case.

The licensing of the work cannot enforce that the technology will be used for environmental good ; as it is an open source technology, anyone can use it for whatever they want, we do not want to declare any use of our technology illegal, the user is responsible. In our company, we have decided to make decisions according to the ethical principles mentioned above, that means that : to economic growth we will prioritise environmental growth, social growth and technological growth. We found that not only people or companies can work like that, but a new generation of stock exchange such as “Impact Investment Exchange” value the environment and social good as well as economic trade . This is not a purely an uninterested ideological statement -as we do need to make money to operate- it is also going with the assumption that environmental resources are more precious than economic resources : “When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money” (I found it hard to find a reliable source to quote, I apologize). We believe that technology is to serve the environment, not to dominate it, and that on the long term, we will see greater economic returns as we protect and promote precious “environmental assets” ; this goes without mentioning water wars, Environmental migration and other impacting socio-economic events …


>> I see that the successful operations of open hardware depends on openness, equal rights and fairness. There might be additional challenges if the market/operation to be global because of the differences in governmental regulations or restrictions possibly imposed by corporate based international treaties (NAFTA, upcoming TPP and so on). Has there been any global initiatives to enforce and protect the basic rules of open hardware? 
I believe in equal opportunities, but I personally believe in meritocracy to run a community and a company – to me that’s fairness, and that’s encouraging efficiency to serve the purpose of the company : explore and protect the Environment.
There will be challenges inherent to the space we are evolving in (international and national waters) and the questions of liability of sailing drones is a relatively new subject for everyone, as autonomous journeying just found a new record a few days ago. I must admit that we do not have the answer to this today. The “Open Hardware H2O” license version 0.1 that we are working on is meant to draft what would be the inventor, manufacturer, ship-owner, user/operator responsibility in respect to all the NAFTA, TPP, Governmental regulations and treaties. As our organisation grows and we get more funding, we will be able to support more lawyer’s time and upgrade this license from Version 0.1 to 0.2 etc.

>> Are the big industries catching up to incorporate the open hardware? 
Big industry players are starting to understand that Open Innovation is where future big money is, with the rise of the Prosumer, the long tail and other economic paradigm born in recent years with the internet, mobile technologies and globalisation. The question is “can they adapt?”, “can they re-invent themselves?”, or will they collapse under their own weight as most empire do? We are in discussion with several large companies, because they are interested to understand how we innovate so fast, and how we thrive ignoring boundaries between governments, industries, academia and residents -namely- the entire market. Think about automotive Industry that may be one day taken over by groups such as wikispeed, think about agriculture with Open Ecology, and us for ocean technologies.
One of the most emblematic Open Hardware technology is Arduino and you can now find it in every RadioShack. In 2010 Lady Ada and P Torrone presented “Million dollar baby – Businesses designing and selling open source hardware, making millions“, and that was 2010, now we are talking about hundreds of Open Hardware projects and businesses.

Open source hardware $1m and beyond – foo camp east 2010 from adafruit industries on Vimeo.

At the occasion of Iran Army intercepting a US drone, Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics made fascinating comments of how the US Army is interested to tap into Open Hardware to accelerate technology development. You would be surprised how many open source technologies are used for national security and intelligence.

I personally believe that the Open Hardware movement is at the heart of the Next Industrial Revolution. What I am interested in is : how can we can make sure that this industrial revolution does not perpetuate even more harm to the environment than the previous one did, hence my extreme interest in the “Open Hardware for the Environment”.
I am now :

  • writing my PhD Thesis about the topic
  • starting a business of ocean robotics based on these premises, Protei INC.
  • contributing to a non-profit that develops such technologies, Open-H2O.

This is an unchartered territory and we need to make our own way through the unknown. It is certainly exciting, the stakes are high with huge environmental challenges, and we will make many mistakes, stumble and get back up, each of us contributing an un-recognisably microscopic part to the transformation of our human culture. But what I love about this movement is how many shoulders one can find, how many helping hands are joining this effort, how many friendships are built. It is a technological adventure, but it is also a philosophical one, a financial one, an environmental one. Yes, one day big industries will capture the spirit of Open Hardware and market it, some of it will be controlled by us, some not, and some of us will continue to explore always further, dreaming and fighting for environmental justice.

20120929 Kickstarter update : End of summer 2012 progress report

We’re coming back to you with a bag of big news about Protei and the progress of the Protei team.

Protei at Techshop San Francisco, Summer 2012. Mad scientist look ∑8D !

Most of this summer 2012, Gabriella Levine and myself -Cesar Harada- have been working hard on optimising Protei_010 for manufacturing from TechShop San Francisco, thanks to the support of and Etienne Gernez. We have a good design and a manufacturing process that provides quality consistency, that’s affordable and easily scalable. We need more testing, and we don’t have yet the material that we are fully satisfied with, but it will come. The next generation of prototype is to be ready for manufacturing, preparing to make the first public batch of beta Protei in the next few months! Of course you would be the first to receive it! Why we are not showing you (or anyone) the most recent designs? You may have heard about the controversy around the new Makerbot Replicator 2 not being Open Source ; because of the threat of a cheaper chinese copycat – well – we want to avoid that, so we are preparing our machine and we’ll release everything (design, CAD, specs, code…) open source “at the right time” : when we release the product. We have quite some overhead cost to set up manufacturing so we cannot afford the risk of someone manufacturing before we do :)

Protei wins Savannah Ocean Exchange.

Last week, Protei won the prestigious “Gulfstream Navigator Award” from Worldwide Sponsors Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL) – Gabriella Levine represented Protei at the Savannah Ocean Exchange in Georgia thanks to Shah Selbe. That means $100,000. And this explains why the paragraph above is so positive and why we are so compelled to bring Protei to production, to your home, to the ocean!

Finally setting up as a non-profit (Open-H2O) + Company (Protei)

With the prize, we are finally able to afford to register ourselves as a non-profit (Open-H2O – former Open_Sailing) and as a corporation (Protei Inc). In a few days, Oct 1, 2 and 3, most of the core team members are meeting in Oslo Norway to define how we are going to bring Protei to you.

The diagram above explains the relationship between the non-profit and the profit entity.

Unreasonable at Sea

And last huge news, Protei is getting ready to do a world tour !!!

From January to April 2013, Gabriella Levine and myself will embark on a great adventure “Unreasonable at seaaround the world. It is a 4 months elite business incubator at sea where we will perfect an innovative strategy for Protei and Open-H2O with world-class mentors while making environmental measurements of plastic, radioactivity and other environmental pollutions around the Pacific, China Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, South Atlantic, North Atlantic and Mediterranean. We will try to blog abundantly during that time and are hoping to set up demos in every single port we dock. What could be more exciting?

We have many Protei events, exhibitions and talks around the world for Protei nowadays : PICNIC Festival in Amsterdam (NL), Las Vegas (US) last week with Julia Cerrud ; Monterrey yesterday at the BLUE film Festival with Ru Mahoney ; Open Hardware Summit in New York we had a poster with Roberto Melendez, Logan P Williams, Toni Nottebohm ; currently at the Amsterdam Museum of Science NEMO with Transnatural Festival thanks to Sebastian Muellauer and Kasia Molga, Metamorph Festival in Trondheim Norway this week end with Etienne Gernez ; TEDxParis and ENSCI next week and much more coming… Please check our website front page.

So, in a nutshell, this summer :

  • we made great progress on the design, getting ready for manufacturing,
  • we won a big award that will help us manufacture,
  • we’re getting more administratively organised
  • we’re going around the world with Protei, study the ocean and test our product in different environments.

We’re moving fast, never as fast as we wish, but we are definitely making good progress. We’ll keep you posted, and thanks again for your support !

Social Geometry / Architecture of Play

Social Geometry Experiment 2008/11/13
Royal College of Arts, London, UK. About 7 people.

Miller Gallery, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. About 10 people.

linear network
CCCB, Barcelona, Spain. About 35 people.

In the last years I have been exploring the relation between social networks and architecture. Or how we can embody social networks to understand them better, and why not generate a new type of architecture that would live through these changes and improve human interactions. I conducted these groups experiments

  • outside of the Royal College of Art, in Hyde Park, London UK.
  • Miller Galery at Carneggie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA
  • CCCB Barcelona, Spain.
  • Workshop on “Environmental Governance,” Design & Environment, Goldsmiths University, London UK.
  • And I am looking for new groups of people interested in exploring this in different cultural contexts.


The fact is that the therm social Geometry has been in used since 1976 by the American Prof. of Social Science Donald Black in the book “The Behavior of Law”. A well written and concise wikipedia article presents the matter. Some attribute the origins of Social Geometry to the works of Georg Simmel , Emile Durkheim or Pierre Bourdieu. However D. Black approach seems to take into account clear variables that are “usable” more directly in the generation of physical social networks :
  • horizontal/morphological (the extent and frequency of interaction among participants)
  • vertical (the unequal distribution of resources)
  • corporate (the degree of organization, or of integration of individuals into organizations)
  • cultural (the amount and frequency of symbolic expressions)
  • and normative (the extent of previously being the target of social control)

Extending the legacy

Black refers to this multi-dimensional amalgam as “social space“. My personal interest is to temporarily dissolve these “social controllers” and let them re-emerge and reconfigure in large-scale choreographic experiments, in the form of ephemeral architecture, that I call “Architecture of Play.

architecture-of-play01 architecture-of-play02 architecture-of-play03architecture-of-play04 architecture-of-play05

In the illustration above, you can see different stages to the generation of a social network :

  1. randomly moving disconnected individuals
  2. Linear network : one line connecting all actors.
  3. Branched Network
  4. Complex Network
  5. Voronoi Cells
  6. Arches
  7. Membranes

And as constructed model :

random  branched network complex network making of approximate voronoi cells voronoi cells -> arches voronoi cells -> arches-nb Arches, crystalizing social networks voronoi cells -> arches Architecture of play, arches in construction Architecture of play, arches in construction architecture of play in the garden Architecture of Play

Essentially we’re doing the same thing as the video above, Delauney triangulation :

A simple set of instruction to generate complex behaviors and networks

instructions social geometry

These were the simple choreographic instructions I would give to the group. Updated instructions here.

Network Topography & Topologies (computer Sciences)

Network Topologies

The study of network topology recognises eight basic topologies:[5]

  • Point-to-point
  • Bus
  • Star
  • Ring or circular
  • Mesh
  • Tree
  • Hybrid
  • Daisy chain
But every single topology can be arranged in a way that tells a totally different story in the context of human architecture.
6 module structure, floating garden research

Complexity, Function & Play

Needless is to say that networks are not formed arbitrarily.
The exemple below is a neural network.  On the left : INPUTS, on the right : a single OUTPUT.

Neural Network

Where more complex networks might provide multiple answers simultaneously :


And this is an network of human contributors to a wikipedia article : many to one.

Gloabl Warming WIki Network

This is the physical reality of our information network, the internet:

Cisco Internet map

And this how the internet sees itself, as data nodes:
Map of the Internet

In fact the best resource I found to be up to date about visualisation of complex network is

Visual Complexity

Formation, growth, Reconfiguration, Resilience and Decay

Based on the 7 basic network topologies, I made some sketches of network growth. Really rough at this stage :

This is how I assigned the colours to different network topologies.

I designed 7 main ways of giving instructions to have people develop specified network topologies:

Physical Social Network Programming


Social network growth ” “5 years of Linux kernel development in Git” – Teaser”

The Connected States of America, MIT SenseableCityLab :

TrashTrack, MIT Senseable City Lab:

Non-human networks (visual inspiration)

Neural growth :

Barabassi Lab

Controlability of Complex Networks, Mauro Martino

Self Organisation :

Ensembles growth :

Network Growth animation :

Characterisation of Node (people) & Connections (lines)

  • Male / Female
  • Young / Old
  • Big / small
  • White / black / other
  • variations in activity
  • variation in “attractiveness”
  • variation in character : shy / outgoing
  • Long / short
  • Tensed / loose
  • stiff / elastic
  • White / coloured / bright
  • Immaterial / Material
  • Soft / hard
Small to Big
  • bathroom {closed}
  • bedroom
  • dinner room / kitchen
  • living room
  • terrace {open}
  • street
  • avenue
  • square
  • forest
  • open field
  • mountain
  • sea
  • outer space
By combining a variety of characters, types of lines and environment, we can produce an infinity of narratives.


Intimacy -> global network

Poking in the internet

Young and Old

breaking Social Boundaries

French romance

Love Distant call


Psychology of Space