A recipe is a set of instructions. So is piece of software. Open Source Software is the practice of sharing a piece of functional code with any one who want to use, it, improve it, or alter in any way they see fit…as long as they in turn share their work. Open source code is a platform for collaboration, rather than competition.
Sharing and collaboration are also important features of cooking. Recipes evolve over time as they are shared, revised, and shared again. Nobody owns the patent for the California Sushi Roll or French Toast. So what if someone applied the idea of open source software to a restaurant? Someone did. The Instructables Restaurant is a collaboration between Arne Hendriks, Bas van Abel, FABlab Amsterdam, to name just a few.
The Instructables Restaurant doesn’t have a permanent home, but instead pops up at different times in different locations, with different people, food, and menus. Like Open Source Code, the Open Source Restaurant, is not site specific, nor is it rooted to a particular cooking style or some genius chef. The restaurant’s space, the plates, furniture, decorations, lighting, and layout are designed by collaboration. In this case the collaborators are members of the Instructables web site – to which anyone can join, though even this is not a necessity. This web site promotes DIY project with an emphasis on sharing that knowledge with others in an open forum. These members adapt, improve, and change the thing and share their version back with the group. The instructions, like open source code, become public property. The emphasis is on collaborative creativity rather than capital acquisition. This Open Source ethos is permeating all sectors of our society and economy. Wikipedia, is just one example of how bottom up collaboration between many diverse people often produces better results than the top down creative insight of a single person or small team.
At an open source restaurant, the chefs share recipes with the patrons, and vice versa. A diner can walk out of the restaurant with a drawings of a floor plan or instructions on how to make the ceramic plates they were eating on. The instructables web site shares the instructions (open source code) for how to create your own open source restaurant. Just remember to share your own discoveries with others to continue the cycle.