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Eben Moglen, a professor of law and legal history at Columbia University, and the founder of the Software Freedom Law Center, kicked off the  Open Hardware Summit today at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge by urging hardware hackers to continue the important work started by the open software movement.

“The distinctions between software and hardware are disappearing,” he said, adding that both are part of the “human freedom movement.”

Frequently referring to the NSA controversy, Moglen told the crowd, “Everybody here is doing important subversive work. You are working for freedom.”

The annual event, sponsored by the Open Source Hardware Association, has attracted a sold-out audience of 500+ to hear an impressive list of speakers.

Later today there will be a panel on the intersection of open source hardware and business, with a particular focus on the issues of forking and attribution.

This topic has already surfaced a number of times recently — between Arduino and Wiring, Flora and LilyPad, MakerBot and RepRap — and the questions are only going to get bigger: What are the limits and motivations for forking? What should be considered fair play? What happens when someone re-implements the same idea with different tools? How do we protect ideas and concepts? Should we, at all? What does it mean to be open, really?

Addressing the issue will be Catarina Mota (@catlx), Open Materials; David Mellis (@mellis) MIT Media Lab and Arduino; Hernando Barragán, Wiring; Ayah Bdeir (@ayahbdeir) littleBits; Nathan Seidle (@chipaddict), SparkFun; and Josef Průša, (@josefprusa), RepRap. Michael Weinberg, (@mweinbergpk) Vice President at Public Knowledge, will moderate.

Also today: Josef Průša (@josefprusa), one of the core developers of RepRap project, will be talking about open source 3D printers; Stefan Hechenberger (@stefanix) of the Lasersaur Project, the open source laser cutter, will be here; so will Pablo Garcia (@prgarc) and Golan Levin (@golan), the creators ofNeoLucida, the first portable, authentic camera lucida to be manufactured in nearly a century.

However the first order of business, for many attendees, was customizing the Summit’s badge.

The Open Hardware Summit badge

The badge has an ePaper screen, an onboard ATmega328, and a microSD slot. It is Arduino-derivative, and can also function as an Arduino shield. The board was designed by WyoLum and manufactured by Seeed Studio.

Something to look forward to today for attendees: as the Summit evolves today, so will the badges.

DC Denison

DC Denison

DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in content management systems.

One of the places where DC can be found online is Google+ (which I’m adding here only because I want to see if by adding “rel=author” and “rel=me” to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!


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