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miriam gradel

Photo: Oliver Herlitschek


Gradel Recommends: Four Ways to Keeping an Open Mind

01. Sep 2022

This month, our recommendations focus on being open. Both in the meaning of open-source hardware but also when it comes to keeping an open mind. Dive in as Communication Lead Miriam Gradel shares with you

Quick insight

Lots of great ideas never come to be simply because they aren’t shared. 

That’s the power of communication. This notion has proven more true than ever over the past year of my professional life. As Communication Lead for the DDC on the transnational EU Horizon 2020 project OPENNEXT, my task has been to navigate the uncharted territory of open-source hardware and turn learnings, tools, and guides on open-source product creation into comprehensive knowledge.

First and foremost, I’ve learned that new perspectives won’t pass your way unless you think outside of the box. Easier said than done when you live in one of the most closed box societies in the world. Very few countries house the same amount of niche interest organizations and theme-specific societies as Denmark, despite only being home to roughly six million people. Yet, we are inherently bad at communicating across sectors, industries, and interests. We function as a tribe rather than a nation, putting societal restraints on a population otherwise financially and resourcefully well equipped for making radical changes in the world. Our shared narrative is seldomly challenged. After all, we’re “the happiest nation in the world,” so what’s there to change?

And that’s the second thing I’ve learned: Established narratives are roadblocks on the path to change. That is why communication is essential and why organizations like the DDC continue to put a massive effort into the free and open sharing of tools, methods, ideas, best-practice examples, knowledge, and resources.

The principles of openly and freely sharing resources seem counterintuitive to most because our market-driven societies have taught us that this is counterproductive in a competitive, proprietary, and closed market. If you share your designs, they are bound to be copied. If you share your resources, someone else is bound to use them. Dare I say: And so what?

Open-source requires an altruistic mindset. In design, it requires us to understand that not everything is about finding solutions but rather about exploring the space of opportunity. And this is an excellent place to start. What opportunities lie ahead if we start opening up rather than closing down? I invite you to dive in.

  1. Podcast: Show Me the Money – Five episodes that help expand your notion of open-source product creation

    To make more businesses succeed with OSH, we must first understand what it takes to gain revenue by giving something away for free. In this podcast series, I sit down with a former colleague and dear friend Frederik Lean Hansen to explore the what, how, who, and why of #opensource product creation. For this podcast to be relevant, you don’t have to be a designer, entrepreneur, tech-nerd, or open-source expert. You just have to listen and remain open.

  2. Article: “If we don’t pursue growth and profit, then what?”

    Someone who has been a great inspiration for me is open-source expert and consultant Jaime Arredondo, who also lends his voice to the fifth episode of Show Me the Money. Jaime has been writing about potentials, prospects, and notions of open-source in the context of local and global challenges for years. His way of writing provides curiosity, clarity, and lots of relevant contexts to help expand the narrative. In particular, this article helped me open my mind and rethink the what and why of open-source in a business context. 

  3. Bellingcat: Fact-checking our world with open-source investigative journalism

    In a time when the fabric of truth seems more threatened than ever, the global journalism organization Bellingcat is using open-source research and investigation to fact-check intelligence. They also offer guides on how to get started with OS journalism, which communities to look into, and what tools are available for fact-checking the flow of information.

  4. Instagram: Distributed Design

    Curious to see how others are being creative with distributed design? This community platform, supported by Creative Europe, works to promote distributed design through community engagement and awareness. They also host the annual Distributed Design Awards, and there is lots of inspiration to find amongst the contestants. Search @distributeddesign on Instagram to join!

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