Documentation Days – Host your own!

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What is Documentation Day?

Throughout the month of October, OSHWA will be hosting several documentation days for anyone, individual or company, to participate. Documentation Days will be free, community organized events to document your most recent open source hardware project following the OSHW definition and guidelines. Look for documentation days from OSHWA’s board members and branches in their communities throughout October. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay tuned and for dates and locations of our events and look for updates on our blog.

Why Documentation Days?

October is Open Source Hardware Month. This is the perfect time to document that project you  haven’t gotten around to documenting but want to make it open source. Documenting your hardware is the most important step in open sourcing your hardware because it gives other people a way to use, build upon, and possibly improve it. Your well-documented designs will live on and take various shapes as other people use them, create derivatives and share them. It is much easier to ask the community for help or find collaborators with well-documented hardware.  Publishing your design files publicly can also establish your hardware as prior art.  If someone attempts to patent something similar, that prior art can prove that the hardware existed before the patent application, thus preventing it from being granted.  Finally, more open source hardware documentation will set an example for others to open source and document their hardware!  This year’s Documentation Days will help standardize key elements of good open source hardware documentation.

To bolster the community-written Open Source Hardware definition, OSHWA is launching the open source hardware certification in October as well. Take this opportunity to read about the certification and join the movement.

Who can host a Documentation Day?

Anyone can host a documentation day! OSHWA’s board members will be hosting documentation days in various locations, but we can’t be everywhere. It is unlikely that OSHWA will be able to help with costs of a documentation day, but below are some tips to keep it cheap.  

How do you set up a documentation day?

Find a venue that has tables and chairs. Your local hackerspace may be a wonderfully aligned space to host a documentation day (and hopefully will not charge you a venue rate!). Public libraries may have free meeting rooms as well. Make sure the venue has lots of outlets for laptops – you may need to supply power strips.

Work with the venue to solidify a date. Send the date, time, location, and other details of your event to info@oshwa.org and your event will appear on the OSHWA Events page. If you’d like some physical handouts, include your mailing address.

Set up a way to RSVP (Email, Meetup, Eventbrite) if necessary. This is optional. You know your local area better than we do.

Use this logo when promoting your event: 

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Promote the event. The event must be a free, public event. Tweet @oshwassociation and we will retweet your event. Use hashtag #DocumentationDay.

Day of event:

  • Thank people for coming, introduce your documentation day as part of OSHWA’s Documentation Day series. Show slides and materials given to you by OSHWA. Point people towards oshwa.org and certificate.oshwa.org with questions.
  • After documenting hardware projects, ask people to use hashtag #iopensourced and #oshw and link to what they’ve documented.
  • Document the documentation day!  What worked?  What didn’t?  Did you and your participants develop any systems, processes, or templates that made creating documentation easier?  Be sure to share them with the larger community.
  • Don’t forget to clean up the venue at the end of your event.

2 thoughts on “Documentation Days – Host your own!

  1. Pingback: October IS Open Hardware Month | Open Source Hardware Association

  2. Pingback: Announcing the OSHWA Open Source Hardware Certification Program | Open Source Hardware Association

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