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Design as Open Knowledge

British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1936) shrewdly observed that it is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits. The simple statement is compelling, almost blindingly obvious—and yet it is not how the world’s industrial economy works. Alastair Parvin contends that we are moving into a world where the recipes will become the most valuable thing on earth, and yet simultaneously they should be free.

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Design can, in theory, be shared and distributed in the same way as recipes communicate food.1

By sharing, forking, and recursively modifying “recipes” through online collaboration, we may not only achieve better ideas, but also build a more sustainable, inclusive future—for all.

As Keynes noted, there is more value in the recipe than the cake.


  1. Ratti, Carlo, et Matthew Claudel. « Open Source Gets Physical: How Digital Collaboration Technologies Became Tangible ». In Open-Source Architecture. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson, 2015. ↩︎