Why does Made Open exist?

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This is my first blog in quite a while and, I must admit, asking me this question about Made Open is a bit like asking Brian the meaning of life. It’s complicated. But here are the headlines…

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I was interested in what I now know to be called “sustainable development”. Back then however, I was forming ideas about life in general and couldn’t make the connection between having money and having social values. I thought they could be connected but the means by which they were achieved seemed contradictory.

When I was in my twenties, I read the book ‘Small is Beautiful’ by E.F.Schumacher. I understood from that moment that others shared my interests. Reading that book changed my direction. I became determined to explore practical ways to achieve more from less. It became my vocation.

When I was in my thirties, I realised that people are often at their happiest when they are being resourceful. I have always understood that the greatest pleasures come from the simplest of things in life, and never understood why people pursue financial wealth so hard as to sacrifice the here and now. However, the notion of people being more resourceful started me thinking about what more could be achieved in communities or businesses with available resources.

As I entered my fortieth year in 2014, I decided to put into place a vision for something that represents everything I’ve learnt over the years and everything I stand for. And that vision is Made Open. It’s basic principle is this: when you do things for others you feel better about yourself.

If I’ve got this principle right, Made Open will allow people from all over the world to make connections around shared interests, create change, collaborate, build capacity and raise their social wealth around projects.

Sure I have had my influences. On a personal level, I am mesmerized by the life of Gandhi (capitalism fails to recognise the truth of collective enterprise etc). Gandhi’s Salt March inspired the community currency feature that you will see in a few months time, for example. This is where people will trade their accumulated points for real-world rewards. I am indebted to previous Sea projects like the Big Design Challenge and Shaped By Us, which have helped to form our thoughts around the use of technology as an enabler for change. And it is a huge privilege to work with my colleagues at Sea – Andy, Geoff, Phil, Luke, Kathryn, Harriet, Matt – all of whom have turned my basic concept for Made Open into something so much better through their skills in design, technology and service experience.

All in all, Made Open is quite a simple concept really. It is a social network that focuses less on the individual self – as with Twitter and Facebook – and focuses more on the small but selfless actions of many. As our Made Open video states: history tells us that money doesn’t change the world, people do.

On the 9th December, when we launch our free-to-use platform to the whole English speaking world, I invite you to use Made Open to tackle any social, environmental or economic issue that affects your community, your organisation or your way of life.

Regards – Robert