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Mushon Zer-Aviv is a designer, an educator and a media activist from Tel-Aviv, based in NY. He is a founding partner at Shual design studio, he teaches new media research at NYU and Open Source design at Parsons the New School of Design. He also blogs at Mushon.com.
In celebrating the merits of free software and the excitement over this radical networked production method, an important truth is left unspoken. Networked collaboration shines in the low levels of network protocols, server software and memory allocation, but user interface has consistently been a point of failure. How come the networked collaboration that transformed code production and encyclopedia-writing fails to translate to graphic and interface design?
The following is an investigation into the difficulties of extending the open-source collaboration model from coding to its next logical step: interface design. While we'll dive deep into the practical difference between these two professional fields, the article might also serve as a note of caution to think before rushing to declare the rise of "open-source architecture," "open-source university," "open-source democracy" and so on.