My Shuttleworth Foundation-Fellowship Application – with OSCEdays (Video & Essay)

I applied for the Shuttleworth Foundation-Fellowship this year in May.

The Shuttleworth Foundation is a foundation, that “likes to live in an open knowledge society with limitless possibilities for all.” It was established by Mark Shuttleworth who did and is doing a great bunch of things for example Ubuntu.

The Shuttleworth Foundation supports people that make the world a more open place.

And this is what I am doing, or trying to do.

Part of the application is a 5 min Video about me. The Video is submitted via link – the foundation asks to upload it on Youtube or Vimeo.

I think that is perfectly in the spirit of openness! I like it very much. I shot the video in my little laboratory in the same setting I will sitting in when shooting the video series about “Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy” in the coming days.

Since the Video is online anyway and the Shuttleworth Foundation in favour of openness I decided to share it here in my blog as well, along with my answers to the questions asked in the publication form.

May the answers help others in the communtiy our outside for similar applications on Open Source for Circular Economy, or just to understand the mission of our OSCEdays better. And I think answer number 6, is quite personal.


Update: The first application did not go through. So I applied again in October 2016. I am happy to share also the essay I sent over in October. You can download it here:


First essay:

[QUESTIONS  – 1500 characters each]

1) Tell us about the world as you see it. (A description of the status quo and context in which you will be working)

View point 1: THE INTERNET – The Economy Is Changing

Economy is important in our world.

What is economy? One way to see it is: It is a collection of methods and techniques for collaboration and communication. They allow millions of people to build complex things together no one could understand alone like an Airbus or lap tops.

With every new media technology new methods for collaboration become possible – and the economy changes. The printing press changed it, the telephone did, the internet is doing it right now.

And the internet is probably not even close to be done with it. Where is it driving us? No one knows. But I think Openness and Open Source are key pointers!

/ View Point 2: SUSTAINABILITY – The Economy Needs To Change

The industrial revolution and the way it happened did harm to our planet and continues to do so. Climate change and resource depletion are two problematic trends. If we continue with business as usual – our future will be less bright.

But there is a positive idea for an alternative: Circular Economy. A Circular Economy is an economy that doesn’t know waste because everything is designed for constant reuse and recycling. And the Circular Economy works in mutual elevating symbiosis with our biosphere.

A great vision! On paper. Truth is, we don’t know how to get there. Our economy is optimized to be linear – take, make, waste. And even if we would like to change. We lack the collaboration methods for a Circular Economy.


2) What change do you want to make in the world? (A description of what you want to change about the status quo, in the world, your personal vision for this area)

I’d like to help society and economy, to find and implement the collaboration methods for a circular economy run in a free society.

And I am convinced, that Openness is the best available option! The question is: how can we enable the economy to take on Openness and Open Source as default option?

Openness works well in the world of software. And areas outside of software are trying to catch up. But outside of software openness still comes with thousands of riddles – from documentation to business models. I’d like to help to solve some of them.

I like the idea that Open Source is just a method for collaboration and communication. A method needs a purpose.

And Circular Economy is the perfect purpose.

Circular Economy can help us to solve some our most urgent problems. But most things necessary for the Circular Economy can’t be accomplished with the classic closed source and intransparency methods in today’s economy. We need new and open methods that allow transparency and decentralized collaboration.

Open Source looks like the key method! But this is easier said then done.

We have to do a lot of experiments and work to make Openness and Open Source the better option and a viable way for most if not all areas of our economy.

That is the change I want to see.


3) What do you believe has prevented this change to date? (Describe the innovations or questions you would like to explore during the fellowship year)

For more than a century the world of business was conditioned and optimized for closed source. The “closed-logic” is deeply embodied in most standard decisions people make every day – from filing patents to signing contracts with standard confidentiality clauses. “We always did it like that.” Humans follow mostly routines, without questioning them.

And maybe closed source was the best way in pre internet days.

Imagine a print out on paper of the building plans for a 2016 Mercedes Benz. Probably a truck full of books! And imagine a fleet of trucks delivering a copy of it to every city and village on earth. And then a lonely inventor in some library finds a way to improve one thing, he sends a letter to Mercedes. They update a book. And the fleet starts rolling again. Imagine several letters a week. And this for all the products on earth . . .

No, it was impossible to do Open Source in the old world. It would not have made any sense to try!

So our economy is optimized for closed source now. And it has grown to an incredibly complex – and powerful – thing. And the more complex something is, the harder it is to change.

Yes, Open Source is possible now! And in software it works well. But we don’t really know, how to make it work in other areas (like fashion, the steel industry etc.) And we are far away from optimizing!

And without these solutions we can’t create a Circular Economy.

The change is not even really invented! That what I want to change.


4) What are you going to do to get there? (A description of what you actually plan to do during the year)

Last year we started the Open Source Circular Economy Days ( – a global event, community and organisation to build a Circular Economy using and exploring the collaboration methodology of Open Source.

It started as a decentralized event with 33 cities from 24 countries taking part. The event created an ongoing web platform. The event and platform were used to found an organisation – the OSCE association – that is now our base for larger “infrastructure” projects, to enable a growing a global community to build an Open Source Circular Economy.

I played and play a key role in the building of the OSCEdays. And I want to continue to play it. The goal is, to listen to the community and find out, what they need, where the energy is, and how to grow with them and for them Open Source for Circular Economy.

Policy making, real hardware solutions, communication tools or educational resources are possible future projects. (At the moment I create a 60 minute video and extended resources about “Open Source Business Models for Circular Economy” in reaction to an often expressed need in the community.)

It is about listening to them. And to give them a voice.

Things I personally would like to see and explore is:

(1) “How to Open Source for Circularity” – with my network of friends and partners (Wevolver, Wikifab, Open!) and my project

(2) A list of open international standards to promote as common ground for open source circular products.


5) What challenges or uncertainties do you expect to face?

Some of our challenges are:

(1) Funding. I am working on Open Source for Circular Economy for a long time now, and it has been practically infundable. Innovative things can be hard to fund. Now with OSCEdays I think we will manage to change this. But it will take us more time and resources to get there. The Shuttleworth fellowship would be a fantastic enabler for an active future.

(2) Intercultural differences in global communication. The OSCEdays will be an organisation in service of a global community governed by a global community. In the onboarding calls I meet people from across the globe – from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, America and so on. Right now OSCEdays is working completely open but is structured in a very straight and organized way. Probably the only chance to get that far with almost no resources. But cultures of collaboration are different in the world. We will have to find something, that includes and suits different cultures.

(3) Open Source. “How to Open Source things” is the overall challenge. One aspect is: Open Source comes from the world of software. Software programmers are used to read and write. That is their profession! But in many other areas writing is not a very well developed skill. So it is hard to get people to document. Documentation though is the key element to connect our community at the moment. We have several ideas how to overcome this (next to events and video meetings). We just need time to implement and test them.


6) What part does openness play in your idea?

I think the role of openness in my work and the OSCEdays project became quite clear in the previous answers.

So I can use this field to explain it from another angle – a more philosophical one.

As an artist and economist I am interested in Openness itself. Because it is a way to create new connections – between human beings, between human beings and things, and between things and things.

The world is how we as humans connect to it – how we actively connect to the things around us. So changing the way we connect to the things around us means to change the world. And to change human beings as well.

To find out what is possible in connections here means to find truth. Truth about the world.

Openness and Open Source are “tools”. And every tool needs a purpose to become a tool.

And for me Circular Economy is the perfect purpose for Openness. Because circular economy is in its very core also about new connections, between human beings and things, and between things and things. It is about a new way how humanity connects to planet earth!

So the two already have a lot in common!

And Circular Economy is an urgent cause. Time matters.

So somewhere in the amalgam of Openness and Circular Economy I expect truth to find.

And beauty.

And a future, worth living in.


10) Key partners

The OSCEdays has created a huge network of organizations, experts and activists from around the globe. Right now – in this very moment when I write this – there are 55 organisations running 55 events in 55 cities for the event 2016.

And if you add all the organizers from last year and the organizations we collaborate with in other ways then global events the list grows longer.

From the Shenzhen Open Innovation lab Think Tank, to Fab labs every where in the world, to Waste Management Companies, to Circular Economy Consultants, to Commons based Cooperatives, to Tech & Art Universities, to Environmental Organisations. The list of partners is diverse.

Next to this we have a list of international mentors who are waiting in the pipeline to get connected with the OSCEdays community for the global event in June 2016.

And in the OSCEdays Board Of Stewardship (where I am the elected chairman) we have people from different continents meeting on a regular basis to shape the future of the OSCEdays.

All of these people and organization have something in common: They are interested in experimenting Open Source for a sustainable circular economy future.

This is the “medium” I will be working in and I will be working for. This is the network I can connect to and that I want to connect.


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