Peer Production and Desktop Manufacturing: The Case of the Helix_T Wind Turbine Project

Science, Technology, and Human Values 38 (6):773-800 (2013)
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Through the case of the Helix_T wind turbine project, this article sets out to argue two points: first, on a theoretical level, that Commons-based peer production, in conjunction with the emerging technological capabilities of three-dimensional printing, can also produce promising hardware, globally designed and locally produced. Second, the Commons-oriented wind turbine examined here is also meant to practically contribute to the quest for novel solutions to the timely problem of the need for renewable sources of energy, more in the sense of a development process than as a ready-to-apply solution. We demonstrate that it is possible for someone with partial initial knowledge to initiate a similar, complex project based on an interesting idea, and to succeed in implementing it through collaboration with Commons-oriented communities, while using peer-produced products and tools. Given the trends and trajectories both of the current information-based paradigm and the problems of the predominant industrial modes of production with all the collateral damage they entail, this may be considered a positive message indeed.



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