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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

An early open source success story 

Thee was an item on the bbc tonight about a collection of Chippendale furniture that has been saved for the nation. One bookcase was reckoned to be worth about 4 million quid at the very least.

What interested me though was that Chippendale published a pattern book so anyone could use his designs. You can see it at Digital Library for the Decorative Arts and Material Culture. This was open source furniture making.

Chippendales business model was to let anyone make copies of his work. That meant that anyone could see how his furniture looked. His very high end "consultancy" service for very rich clients meant they got the very best quality goods from his own workshops and also a great deal of advice on how to maximize their potential in the clients (stately) homes.

This isn't too dissimilar to a company like Red Hat today. Let anyone download Fedora Core and have all the fun of setting things up and optimizing things themselves or pay for the full on Red Hat release but get some consultants from Red Hat helping you make things work smoothly.

And the whole idea of open source is meant to be novel and unique... try telling that to an 18th Century cabinet maker (who also incidentally made a lot of money).

Permanent link and Comments posted by Rob Cornelius @ Wednesday, September 19, 2007

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