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Open Source Year: One Man's Experiment in Living Without Copyrighted Products

Berlin filmmaker Sam Muirhead will live for a year without proprietary goods in the ultimate DIY maker experiment. But what about toilet paper?


Berlin filmmaker Sam Muirhead has come up with an ambitious stunt: He'll live without proprietary goods for one year in an effort to immerse himself in the open-source maker movement. Muirhead will be something of a fish out of water—he doesn't code and isn't a die-hard DIYer, but he's excited to spread the gospel and benefit the community.

"The future is open-source everything," Linus Torvalds, Fonder of Linux, famously said. Clearly that future has not yet arrived, but Muirhead will live as if it has.

Muirhead is particularly well situated for this experiment—Berlin is undergoing a scrappy DIY revolution and he's got urban farms, maker labs, even textile workshops and a hacker club all in his neighborhood. From hardware to software, food to clothing, he'll seek out or design and share an open source alternative.

"I'll be testing just how far the open source idea can go in real life," says Muirhead. That may leave him living in a toga, drinking poorly brewed beer, but so be it. If he can't find a truly open source option for his need, he'll opt for what he's called the "shariest" option—the most collaborative and transparent.

Muirhead began his new way of life this month and he'll be chronicling his adventures on his own site and over at Shareable, where he introduced himself this week:

I'm documenting everything in videos and writing...not just my successes but also my ridiculous fumbles and failures as I come to grips with open source. I'm bringing all of these disparate areas of technology, collaboration and DIY together in my journey as an open-source-outsider experiencing a new way of living...I'll be your crash-test dummy, hurling myself face-first into open source just so you can watch what happens.


Muirhead's year-long experiment reminds us a bit of Colin "No Impact Man" Beavan's voyage into the wilderness of radical non-consumption. Like with Beavan, it'll be interesting to see if small, every day conveniences (toilet paper?) chip away at his resolve to keep the faith—and what new possibilities this lifestyle experiment opens up.

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