DSI protest sign open source
for digital social innovation

DSI talks: If you can’t open it, you don’t own it

DSI Talks is a series about digital social innovation. Digital social innovation is a growing community of people who use digital technology to tackle societal challenges.

Are you interested in sustainability and curious how new technologies can contribute?

Most devices are not easy to repair yourself. Whether it is physically impossible or your warranty expires when you start tinkering. But what if we can replace parts? Or if we can view and improve the software ourselves? How does this change our attitude towards technology?

During this evening we look at the potential of the open-source software and hardware communities. And bring out a number of striking examples.

Entrance is € 5,- (including a drink). This event will be English spoken.


  • Marleen Stikker is co-founder/director of Waag. "If You Can not Open It, You Do not Own It" is also Marleen Stikker's creed. Marleen is actively involved in the Open Design and Creative Commons movement and believes that society needs open technologies to meet societal challenges.
  • Douwe Schmidt is privacy officer at Fairphone. Fairphone is the first modular phone to use conflict-free minerals that is designed to be reparable.
  • Cecilia Raspanti is involved in the TextileLab Amsterdam of Waag. TextileLab Amsterdam is a laboratory for fashion, textile and material designers, researchers, artists and creatives who want to explore alternatives for the current textile and clothing industry.
  • Boris van Hoytema is director at the Foundation For Public Code to strengthen Open Source ecosystems for cities. He also works as an Open Source advisor for the municipality of Amsterdam.


Tech companies are increasingly closing off and patenting their technology, thereby making it more difficult for users to understand, and exercise control over, the tools that they use on a daily basis. On the other hand, a countermovement is on the rise, one that sees opening up technology as a crucial step in the transition towards sustainable economies and societies. Communities advocating the use of open source soft- and hardware are growing in number and relevance.

Open technologies stimulate/encourage citizens to change their attitude towards products and consumption. When engaged as potential designers, citizens cultivate a different relationship with the tools they use: they may ask how things are made, and how the design can be improved to reduce its environmental burden/impact.

If we construct our products and technologies in such a way that we can open up, repair and reuse them, then we can use resources in a more sustainable way. Numerous parties across the globe are working within the open source framework. One good example, from the Netherlands, is Fairphone. They have developed a modular phone which allows owners to replace certain parts easily, without having to buy an entire new phone.

This open-source transition requires that we rethink and redesign our products, with an eye towards maximum reusability of parts, access to designs, and transparency of assemblage.

On this night we will unpack the philosophy of open-source sustainability and discuss new avenues for open, participatory working.




Waag, Nieuwmarkt 4, 1012 CR Amsterdam


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DSI4EU, formally known as DSISCALE, is supported by the European Union and funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme, grant agreement no 780473.