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Restating our core values

Publicado em 30 de setembro de 2012

A brazilian portuguese version of this text is available here.

Este texto está disponível em português aqui.

In a tech market still highly tied to proprietary ideas and practices, in which lock-in is the overall rule, part of our day to day routine involves telling our partners, suppliers and clients about the values on which we’ve built our company. Even basic statements such as “you are not forced to use specific software to design the objects that will be printed on our machines” are frequently received with surprise.

To a large extent, our speech and our daily practice end up being a balanced mix of entrepreneurship and activism. And these aspects of our business seem to reinforce each other beneficially. Even though the technology we work with is not completely new, it’s still a novelty for a lot of people, and is certainly an appealing route through which people can learn about our message regarding ethical values and knowledge-sharing.

On the other hand, our commitment to free software and open hardware is one of the elements that most sets our company apart. We decided to start the company in the first place so that we could work full-time on projects that were compatible with our personal values.

For a long time, we’ve been inspired by the work of Makerbot, a pioneer US company in the home 3D printing market based on free software and open hardware. Both Makerbot and Metamáquina were started in similar contexts, with roots in collaborative laboratories of the Do-It-Yourself community. Both were born out of the initiative of hackerspace members – from NYCResistor, in New York, and from Garoa Hacker Clube, in São Paulo, Brazil, respectively.

We have often cited the interaction between the Makerbot and Ultimaker projects (among others) as an example of how making a project open can be economically viable and how collaborative practices, apart from their inherent social value, are also a more intelligent way to build technologies.

However, this week’s news regarding the launch of a new 3d printer model by Makerbot included the launch of a proprietary software application (more precisely, a proprietary GUI frontend for underlying free software components) and with rumors that the Replicator 2 hardware schematics will not be freely published, as previous models’ schematics used to be.

We’re sad to discover that we can no longer regard Makerbot as an example and inspiration as we used to. We are frustrated with these changes and we hope that public disapproval can convince Makerbot executives to change their mind and return to their previous practices. Anyway, it seems that the community’s trust has been lost, and this is usually quite difficult to recover.

We know there are many commercial and economic factors that, sooner or later, result in strategy changes during the lifecycle of a company. But we can’t ever let these changes contradict our core values.

That’s why, given the recent events in the US, we want to restate our promise: we won’t ever develop secret hardware, nor will we ever promote or endorse any software that disrespects the autonomy and freedom of its users. These precepts underlie our passion for our work and so are inseparable from our mission. It wouldn’t make any sense for us to act otherwise; indeed, we would a thousand times prefer to close our company rather than our source code.

Filipe Moura

Felipe Sanches

Rodrigo Rodrigues da Silva

founders – Metamáquina

 

A brazilian portuguese version of this text is available here.

Este texto está disponível em português aqui.

 

 
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