A Hint of the Potential of Open Sourcing
This example is not open source, but it suggests the potential of opening processes up.
Musgrove, Mike. 2006. “Lego’s Robot Redux: Hackers, Longtime Fans Help Revamp Kits To Build Better Gizmos.” Washington Post (29 July): p. D 1.
“In deciding to revamp the aging Mindstorms robot line, Lego turned to its most faithful core of fans: enthusiasts and hackers who had banded together to form their own online support network. In 2004, Lego e-mailed four of its biggest Mindstorms fans across the United States. The team members spent 10 months advising Lego as the Mindstorms Users Panel, discussing their dream lists of what the next kit should and should not be.”
“Lego’s star chamber, later expanded to 14 members, helped shape what the new robots will be able to do and which parts come in the 571-piece kit. One member was even able to pressure the company into building a part that makes its debut in the new Mindstorms set — a rare event at Lego, which treats every individual piece with reverence. The new part is a connector that allows two long pieces to be joined at a 90-degree angle.”
“The resulting toy has much more up-to-date technology than the original set, including a USB 2.0 port for fast downloads and Bluetooth for wireless connections. With the right parts and programming, a Mindstorms robot can dance in response to sounds or follow the beam of a flashlight. Lego even decided to embrace the hacker community, which has spent years altering the electronic brain of the system to make the robots perform beyond what Lego had intended. The company is making public the new source code, which is the programming that runs the unit, and allowing users to modify it and share their changes, as long as they promise not to profit from it.”