Collaboration Ninja 忍者

Work-in-progress: please join in and share your insights

Ninjas in Action

There are so many great experiments underway. Here are some of them, please send us more, with a one paragraph explanation of what its all about!

Open Architecture Network

Green Maps

Enabled by Design

Open source mobile phone – Open Moko




Canada’s green party

School of everything


Slice of pie



“a small NASA experimental project that used public volunteers (clickworkers) for scientific tasks that require human perception and common sense, but not a lot of scientific training. Clickworkers could work when and for how long they chose, doing routine analysis that would normally require months of work by scientists or graduate students. The web site and database were created and are being maintained by one engineer working part time…” –

Dell Idea Storm

“The name is a take-off on the word “brainstorm” and it is our way of building an online community that brings all of us closer to the creative side of technology by allowing you to share ideas and collaborate with one another. The goal is for you, the customer, to tell Dell what new products or services you’d like to see Dell develop. We hope this site fosters a candid and robust conversation about your ideas. Our commitment is to listen to your input and ideas to improve our products and services, and the way we do business.” –

“launched by Dell on February 16, 2007 to allow Dell “to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to” the public.

After registering, users are able to add articles, promote them, demote them and comment on them. Articles can also be demoted, and a “vote half life” system[2] is used to stop older ideas which are no longer receiving votes from appearing on the popular ideas page. Dell also modifies the half live vote to prop up ideas which they feel need more exposure, as they did for the poll asking which topics Micheal Dell would be more important to cover at the 2007 LinuxWorld conference.

… Dell continues to remove comments (besides comments which are in bad taste) which leads to confusion as the thought process of the comments is left disjointed and nonsensical at times.” –


Our goal is to help stimulate new, sustainable, Eco-friendly wealth by lowering the barrier to access of inexpensive low carbon footprint solutions for communications and computing for 7 billion people. By increasing the success of starting and running a small to medium sized business that represents 80% ofthe economy in new growth markets through local partnerships and to create the largest positive social and economic change possible starting with our version of a Google phone/ computer. It’s like a One Lap Top Per Child ($100 Lap Top) project for Small to Medium sized business but in the form of a mobile phone/ tablet computer by addressing Economic Value Add.

Koolus business model is to provide a stable port of Android optimize for Google Apps to enable GPhones to come to market.

LIFECar / RiverSimple

Seeking the benefits of synergies in design of new cars leads us to the Open Source Software movement and its dictum that “Given enough eyeballs, any bug is shallow. ” Debugging software is much more trying than writing it; the open source process diminishes that difficulty, as it allows thousands of people to survey all the code—the whole system….

Open Architecture Network (Architecture for Humanity)

“a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings design services to communities in need. We believe that where resources and expertise are scarce, innovative, sustainable and collaborative design can make a difference.”

In 2007 Architecture for Humanity launched the Open Architecture Network, a collaborative online resource and project management tool for those dedicated to improving the built environment. But it’s not just for professional architects–community leaders, nonprofits, technology partners, educators, materials specialists, healthcare workers, and others collaborate and share their expertise on the network.


OpenMoko’s CAD files are available in Pro Engineer format, released under a creative commons license

“Freeing up the source allows people to invent things we couldn’t have imagined,” said Mosher. “… People look at the platform, and say ‘Hey, I can do something with this.’” – Steve Mosher, speaking to Wired:


Thirty spokes share the wheel’s hub It is the center hole that makes it useful. Shape clay into a vessel It is the space within that makes it useful. Cut doors and windows for a room It is the holes which make it useful. Therefore benefit comes from what is there Usefulness from what is not there.


“Openmoko is open. Open to life, desire, function, and simple beauty. Never closed, perfect, or complete. An empty vessel, ready to be filled with your ideas.

We run our company’s internal development like an open source project: transparent to the world. The same tools that we use for source code revision control, bug tracking, and communication are publicly available at” (from

Mechanism for engaging many people in a project… overcoming the ‘i would but nobody else is’ barrier. However, this doesn’t seem to lend itself to design / hardware (perhaps as it is not ‘marketed’ in that direction). The nearest pledge to being relevant in design is “ameepledge”..

“I will add the energy consumption details of at least five electrical items in my house to the AMEE climate change database but only if 500 other people will do the same (or better).” — Tom Steinberg, Director, mySociety, Deadline to sign up by: 1st October 2008. 25 people have signed up, 475 more needed (14th July 08) this is an example of mass collaboration for collecting data that is relevant to designers (in this case energy/CO2 data).


Example of Idea proposal that others are helping to substantiate:


Open source, collaborative development of ‘Shelter Standards’, common standards and indicators for stockpiled hot and cold family shelters in humanitarian operations, by incorporating comments made by manufacturers and suppliers, as well as the participants of a sector forum open to humanitarian organisations.

“…Submit your [T-Shirt] design for presentation to the Threadless community… Over a period of 7 days, the Threadless community will score and comment on your submission. These scores and comments will help us decide which designs should become the next Threadless tees! If your idea is selected you’ll receive $2,000 in cash…”


“Wikipedia is a multilingual, Web-based, free-content encyclopedia project… written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing most of its articles to be edited by nearly anyone with access to the Web site.

Wikipedia’s reliability and accuracy have been questioned. The site has also been criticized for being susceptible to vandalism, for having uneven quality, system bias and inconsistencies, and for favoring consensus over credentials in its editorial process. To address these concerns, Wikipedia has instituted several normative policies and guidelines, such as excluding unverifiable assertions and unpublished research, giving balanced presentations of topics from a neutral point of view, and supporting assertions with reliable references. Wikipedia’s editors have also formed specialized groups to address vandalism, systemic bias, and other related problems.

Wikipedia has enacted an editorial board to monitor and verify the information; they are attempting to create an authority on which to check and balance their assertions. However, this seems contrary to the original vision statement of the project: free-content that is written collaboratively by volunteers.” – Wikipedia and the Creation of an Authority Mon, 02/05/2007 – 10:29am — James Pearson

Worldbike Open Source Bike Design

In a field like bicycle design, open-source design may seem a little awkward at first – how exactly do you download a bicycle? But actually, it’s a natural fit. Most bicycle designs have been patented long ago. So, with patenting out of the picture, the only reason to protect your design would be to raise a barrier for others trying to duplicate your work. But, as bicycle engineers and designers motivated to improve the lives of fellow bike people in other, poorer countries, we want to see our work replicated. And downloading a bicycle isn’t as hard as it sounds. Digital snapshots and blueprints go a long way. Open-sourcing the design process simply isn’t that hard to do.

What’s hard is open-sourcing the production process. Bicycles that sell in big box stores for $79 are made by the millions in huge factories in Asia. The massive economies of scale allow these producers to build and train robots to cut and miter the metal tubing and weld the frames together. To get the Worldbike concept to that level of production will require a significant leap from where we are now. And yet, without doing so, our customers will be forced to pay higher prices.

How will we secure the participation of factories who are motivated by profit? Will these factories set a lower minimum order and underwrite some of the fixed costs for a bicycle that helps people earn a living? Will the charitable nature of our work resonate with factory owners? Or will and other NGO’s have to use donor funds to subsidize the new bicycles until volumes rise into the millions? Here is where the open-source analogy breaks down a little bit. But perhaps we can use the spirit of the open-source movement to freely exchange information about purchasing, shipping, and selling utility bicycles in developing countries.

With the advantages of load-carrying bicycles becoming clearer to international development organizations, we can pull together resources and work together as a community to achieve meaningful results. And that is the true meaning of open-source.


4 Responses

  1. Nils says:

    Woah, comment: this page is in drastic need of some informational structure or hierarchy or something. Ideal for me would be a list of these exciting initiatives, perhaps further grouped into categories, but with each initiative showing up as a single line – and then you could click on its title and have the section expand out below it, like in many well-designed FAQ pages. I don’t know enough about programming to know when/how this is possible (although I would guess not in a simple WordPress-hosted site…).

    I can’t find an easy example right now online (not while I’m looking for it, of course), but these seem to be a couple examples of the type of coding I’m thinking of: or

    P.S. If anyone knows of any text-editing software where I could easily set up toggle things like that for my own use, while writing, please let me know! I’d love away to easily switch from partial outline-view to expanded text in a certain section, while maintaining a big-picture view of the whole (and without buying a couple extra flatscreens or something, Al-Gore-style [,29307,1622338_1363003,00.html]).

  2. […] examples of collaboration success or […]

  3. For your list: my collaborative network of systems thinkers; ‘Fixing systems not symptoms’

    From the introduction: Welcome to everyone with an ambition that matches the scale of the world’s challenges. Join us to design and inspire radical change in the ‘game rules’ and paradigms that determine whether things will get better or worse everywhere.

    Please get stuck in and help shape the opportunities for ‘big picture’ change that are beyond our expectations but not beyond our imagination. Thinking and actions about planet-scale whole systems can join the dots between entrenched viewpoints and offer a compelling new vision with practical new ways forward. This emerging picture, of a world that works, could quickly become tomorrow’s reality.

    A world that works for all is within our grasp!

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