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Free Arduino

When the legal battle over the split in Arduino was resolved last October, the announcement, which was made at Maker Faire New York, said that “The Arduino Foundation” would be established. Massimo Banzi said that the Foundation was a “new beginning for Arduino.” He said:

“The Arduino Foundation will allow us to champion the core values of the Arduino Community within the open source ecosystem and to make our commitment to open source stronger than ever.”

Yet where is the Arduino Foundation nine months later? A page on Arduino.org still says that a Foundation is coming and it promises that the Arduino Foundation will bring “massive change.” More recently, a May 23, 2017 press release for Maker Faire Bay Area, which had the title “Arduino Foundation Offers Membership to Passionate Community of Developers” announced “the initial steps to form the Arduino Foundation.” It claims that “software developers can register to become members” and participate by reviewing the Arduino IDE. Are those software developers asked to be members of an industry consortium or is the Arduino Foundation intended to represent the entire community?

It is bothersome that Federico Musto is acting as the spokesman for the Foundation. This is the same Musto who admits that he fabricated his advanced degrees from NYU and MIT. Whatever the legal or business reasons why Musto ended up with majority control over Arduino, there is no justification to have him in control of the foundation. Musto has shown us that he cannot be trusted. It is bad enough that he has gained control of Arduino Holding. We must not allow him to control the foundation.

The real reason for an Arduino Foundation is to free Arduino from Federico Musto and ensure that this open source hardware project is responsive to the community that cares about Arduino and its ecosystem.

The Arduino team and Arduino Holding need to show us that the Arduino Foundation has been formed as an independent and open organization. The Arduino Foundation must

  • define its mission to protect and promote the interests of the Arduino community;
  • determine a board of independent directors who are not chosen by Arduino Holding; are not limited to the existing Arduino team; and excludes Federico Musto.
  • operate in an open and transparent manner.
  • Have visibility into the business of Arduino Holdings to hold it accountable as a watchdog.

Perhaps it should be called The Free Arduino Foundation. Free as in Freedom. Free to operate on its own. Free to represent a commitment to the mutual interests of the Arduino community.

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DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

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