Our Thinking

The more we share the thinking, working and practices of ourselves and our fellows, the better


Aaron, Jesse and Johnny - new alumni

Aaron Makaruk

Something has got to give in how we produce, distribute and consume food. The current system requires too much natural resource while creating pockets of feast and famine, sometimes even within the same city. While large scale systemic change is needed, we believe targeted individual action can make a difference.

This lead us to Aaron Makaruk and his work on easy to do, affordable urban farming. He had 2 objectives - eliminating urban food deserts, and reestablishing a first hand relationship between people and natural food sources. His starting point was producing the kind of open design kits that you’d need to get started.

However, having access to kits has not sufficiently motivated people to engage in the medium term effort that goes into tending a food garden. It became clear that it will take much more than ease of use to bring about behavioral change around food production. We need to go back to the drawing board.

Based on our shared learnings, Aaron is adjusting his focus slightly. While continuing his work on the https://akerkits.com/ and http://opensourcebeehives.net/ , he will be exploring the relationship between the food cycle and the environment, and the role openness can play in that more broadly.

Aaron fully embraces and actively seeks alignment between his personal and professional choices. Over the coming months he will be reassessing where he can make the biggest contribution to positive change for the benefit of man and nature. His thoughtful approach inspires others to be more considered in their everyday consumption as well as the decisions they make as social change agents.

Jesse von Doom

Jesse cares deeply about the part artists have to play in both shaping and expressing the mood and the culture of our time. This role is too important to be left primarily in the hands of capitalist corporations and the industrial machine.

The conversation artists have with us, with society, through their music, should be free to evolve, to come from left field, to honestly connect with what is inside or underlying, without the restriction of having to have mass appeal. Jesse’s vision for how this can be supported and enabled, is to help them connect much more directly with their audience, broadening their horizon for making a living as a working artist.

In https://cashmusic.org/ he has built the infrastructure for this, from the philosophy to the technology. Next is the know-how of what it takes to be a working musician. He engages makers and listeners alike on the tools of the trade, and makes available the resources for everyone to make more informed choices in music. An important part of this is inviting us all into the CASH Family.

Jesse believes everyone deserves to be able to pursue their dreams and live their best lives. Over the past 3 years we have seen this belief manifested in the way in which Jesse operates, specifically through CASH but also as a human being and a Fellow. He contributes a great deal to others within and beyond the fellowship by demonstrating the intrinsic values of openness and being part of an inclusive thriving community.

Johnny West

Johnny West does not shy away from things that are difficult. He readily acknowledges that achieving his grand vision may, probably will, be hard. But he always points out it is not impossible, which means it is worth trying.

One such vision is to have openly available, universal information about the planet’s natural mineral resources. The inner workings of the extractive industries are incredibly hidden, yet have enormous impact on our lives. Johnny’s vision is to demystify the extractive industries for everyone - citizens, governments, corporations, consumers and environmentalists alike. Openness levels the playing field for negotiations and sets the baseline for strategic planning towards a more equitable, sustainable world.

When we first heard Johnny speak about his idea, we were enthusiastic to work together on the challenge, but we certainly had reservations about the extent we thought it was possible. The field is seemingly dense with competing vested interests and incumbents not keen on relinquishing their privileged positions. He has truly risen to the challenge and more.

Johnny’s work through http://openoil.net/ is an example of how openness creates opportunities across the board. This is not about an expose or catching anyone out. It is about helping everyone make informed, contextual decisions by redressing the balance knowledge and power. The more we know, the better decisions we can make about how we manage these resources and the impact they have on our environment, societies and economies. It has shown what is really possible using publicly available data.

His spontaneous expressions of pure joy - jumping onto a swing or walking into the pouring rain - is so infectious, he really does make the impossible seem, and therefore become, possible.

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Welcome Alasdair, Anasuya, Madeleine & Tarek

by SF Team, 3 February 2017

We are delighted to welcome four new Fellows into the Shuttleworth Fellowship Programme: Alasdair Davies, Anasuya Sengupta, Madeleine Ball and Tarek Loubani. The wonderful Cory Doctorow acted as the Honorary Steward for this round of fellowship, making the final selection from the short-list. In the world, the new cohort brings openness to conversation technology, inclusivity on the web, genetic research and medical devices. We are excited to learn with them as they progress upon their...

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Cory Doctorow selects new Shuttleworth Fellows

by SF Team, 3 February 2017

“It was an honour and a conundrum to serve as steward: an honour, because (obviously), I was in a position to help some remarkable people do transformative work; a conundrum because we were so spoilt for choice with remarkable projects and people.” For our March 2017 fellowship round we have been working with the journalist, science fiction author, EFF Special Advisor and co-editor of Boing Boing, the wonderful Cory Doctorow. Cory took stewardship of our...

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Doctorow/Shuttleworth collaboration

by SF Team, 5 October 2016

The September 2016 Fellowship round was the first for which we invited an Honorary Steward to make the final decision on new Fellows. We had a brilliant experience with Joi Ito. He brought his individual experience and perspective. He also invested considerable time and energy in thoughtful review and reflection on the applications and their contextual environments. The result is three new Fellows working in wildly different fields, challenging our thinking as much as the...

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Open for business

by SF Team, 3 October 2016

Four years ago, we wouldn’t have thought we’d fund a music venture. Like most people, we tend to think musicians are doing fine because there’s so much music around. But that’s like thinking journalists are fine because there’s so much news on TV. When culture is centralised in big, closed silos, we lose diversity, and we lose touch with parts of ourselves that we once treasured. And soon we don’t even notice what’s gone missing....

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Welcome to new alumni - Daniel and Waldo

by SF Team, 1 September 2016

Daniel Lombraña González has had the maximum of 3 consecutive fellowship years and is ready to take on the world. Waldo Jaquith is moving on after 1 year, having achieved what he set out to do in this year, to take up an opportunity that will expand the reach of his work exponentially. Daniel Lombraña González Daniel has come a long way with the Shuttleworth Foundation. We first met him as a recent PhD graduate...

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Eating our own dogfood - individuals

by SF Team, 14 July 2016

Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes for the future with them throughout their lives. Supporting them to work on what is broken in their world and share their approach openly, equips them to continue to affect change far beyond the life of a specific grant. Mark Shuttleworth has given the Foundation a clear mandate: Continue to re-imagine the way we work, based on openness and innovation, using the money we have in a...

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Welcome Achal, Isha and Ugo!

by SF Team, 13 July 2016

This round saw the addition of an Honorary Steward, Joi Ito, making the final selection from the short-list. We are very excited to now announce the three new Fellows who will be joining the Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship programme in September: Achal Prabhala, Isha Datar and Ugo Vallauri. Joi brought his unique perspective on openness and technology for social impact, along with his experience as Director of the MIT Media Lab. He has chosen Fellows that...

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Open Locks: Legal commitments that lock in trust

by Andrew Rens, Arthur Attwell and SF Team, 7 July 2016

Contributors to your open project invest their time and energy because they trust you with their gift to the world. So the challenge is this: How can you keep their trust? Can you seal it in for the long term? There are many successful projects that have managed this, notably in open-source software. Linux, Firefox and Wikipedia are good examples. The practice of sharing knowledge in open-source-software communities is now common among researchers, civil society...

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Ito/Shuttleworth collaboration

by SF Team, 17 March 2016

At the heart of the Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Programme are two key values - openness, and supporting individuals. Inspired by the programme itself, we are evolving how we award Fellowships. Not only will we be selecting individuals to support, we have selected an individual to help us make that decision for the coming round. We are excited to announce that Joi Ito will be the honorary steward of the September 2016 fellowship intake. Joi, who...

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Dan & Peter - new alumni

by SF Team, 1 March 2016

Dan Whaley Dan is the founder of Hypothes.is, developing an open, interoperable conversation layer over the web. During Dan’s 3 years of fellowship, Hypothesis has grown from an early stage idea to a fully fledged organisation. They develop essential annotation tools and support annotation efforts in journalism, education and science. Hypothesis is also the hub of a coalition to Annotate All Knowledge. Coalition members have agreed to begin the exploration and experimentation required to understand...

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Welcome Aaron, Peter and Tiffiniy!

by SF Team, 29 February 2016

Aaron Makaruk The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life” WHO, 2016, with both physical and economic access being considered. With increasing urbanisation comes greater distance between the consumers and producers of food. Along with growing demand, this has lead to trade-offs between volume, shelf life and nutritional value. Costs have gone...

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How we measure success

by SF Team, 22 September 2015

Applicants, and sometimes even Fellows, find it difficult to compute the broad question “what do YOU want to do?”. They keep looking for guidance to narrow down the scope of possibility and fit within prescribed parameters. Yes, we want open and innovative, we like technology and we get excited about access. Other than that, and even beyond that, we want applicants to tell us what they want to do, not the other way round. In...

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Welcome Adam, Astra and Waldo!

by SF Team, 3 August 2015

Adam Hyde has a particular talent for helping experts codify processes into manuals for the benefit of a wider audience. His started with technologists through Booksprints and has now turned his attention to academics. As someone familiar with, but not ingrained in, the way academic output is captured and shared, he is questioning the journal publishing process at both the conceptual and practical level. How can we increase the value of scientific output to benefit...

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Welcome Luka Mustafa

by SF Team, 5 March 2015

Luka’s fellowship is centred around the development of Koruza, a 3D printable wireless optical system for connecting buildings up to 100m apart with internet access. Internet connectivity in urban areas is reliant on fibre or wifi. Where neither of these are viable, there are few other options available. Luka’s work could offer a viable low-cost alternative in these environments. This would empower individuals to build last-mile connectivity with their own hands through the organic growth...

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Catharina, David, Jonas & Rory - new alumni

by SF Team, 5 March 2015

Catharina Maracke took on the issue of contributor agreements for free and open source software (FOSS) projects through the Harmony project in March 2012. Where Fellows typically bring their own project into the Fellowship, Catharina was in the unusual position of taking on an existing project with various and varying role players. Hers was a very nuanced role, having to be sensitive to industry and community dynamics. Catharina is a strong legal mind committed to...

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Our experiment in the world

by SF Team, 23 February 2015

This is not where we started and it is almost certainly not who we will be indefinitely. But our experience in philanthropic investment so far has resulted in a couple of key principles that govern how we behave in the world, and specifically how we structure our relationships with those we invest resources in. This is where we are today: We fund individuals in the first instance. Individuals carry their learnings, experiences, passions and hopes...

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Download our legal templates

by SF Team, 6 February 2015

Since 2007 we have required Fellows to apply open licences - first CC-BY-SA and then CC-BY - to all intellectual property created during the fellowship. The same principle applies to works produced within the Foundation. Openly licensed resources are only as useful as the number of people who can access to them, so now we are eating our own dogfood and making our Fellowship Agreement and Project Agreement available on GitHub. These agreement outlines are...

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Arthur & Jaisen - new alumni

by SF Team, 1 September 2014

During his three years as a Shuttleworth Fellow, Arthur Attwell worked on Paperight, a rights clearance house for literary and educational works to allow distributed, local, on-demand book printing. Access to reading materials is critical to learning in its broadest sense. Arthur’s passion is to ensure universal access, with access including at least legal and physical dimensions. Digital is showing promise, but has not yet resulted in the scale needed, and never will if legal...

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Welcome Sean Bonner

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

We are excited about Sean’s work as he is literally putting the tools in the hands of the people who need them, localising the measure-report-decide cycle around environmental risk factors such as radiation and noise pollution. There are may questions around the quality, reliability and cost-effectiveness of open hardware in general, and specifically open sensing tools. Sean has shown that he can address these questions critically and engage relevant stakeholders and experts. We look forward...

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Welcome Seamus Kraft

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

Seamus applied to the Foundation to expand his work on the Madison Project which aims to open up government by increasing transparency and citizen participation in policy-making. We have seen a lot of open government applications in the past, and Seamus’ is the most practical one by far. He is starting off by focusing on a small scope in a very specific context and is uniquely positioned to implement these first steps thanks to his...

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Welcome Peter Bloom

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

Through Rhizomatica, Peter is setting up affordable local mobile phone networks in under-served areas in Mexico. We have invested in telecommunication initiatives before, as communication is absolutely key to be part of society as we know it. As long as you are not connected to the global communication network, you are excluded from participating in human development beyond the limitations of time and distance. Access to telecommunication is a matter of cost, infrastructure, hardware and...

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September 2014 fellowship intake

by SF Team, 26 August 2014

We had submissions from all over the world, exploring areas of science, education, culture, health, privacy and many many more. We spoke to people working on issues from personal safety to universal access to knowledge, from designing open hardware to alleviating poverty. All of the applications showed passion and personal commitment. We continue to be impressed. We were drawn to initiatives that are at the early stages of development and not yet widely funded, to...

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The How of Open

by SF Team, 15 May 2014

This success has also made the term fashionable and sometimes leads to overenthusiastic uses of the open label or, more worryingly, open-washing . It can result in uncertainty and confusion for those who plan to open up knowledge resources for strategic purposes. The detail of how open is open, matters. Although governments and inter-governmental organisations are adopting the creation and use of open knowledge resources, there is a surprising lag by the majority of non-profit...

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Privacy

by SF Team, 21 April 2014

We do this because who we are and how we behave has impact on others. We want to present the best, most relevant parts of ourselves in a given context. We choose to ignore the warts and wobbly bits in favour of the identity we’ve claimed as our own in that space. It’s part of being human, being in control of our own lives and choosing what we reveal about ourselves, under what circumstances and...

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Open as a Strategy for Philanthropy and Social Change

by SF Team, 3 March 2014

The more we expose the thinking, working and practices of our organisation, our ideas and our projects, the better. Exposing this information allows other organisations, project implementers, funders, policy makers, change agents, advocates and academics to learn from what we have done. We have found that being intentional about making knowledge resources, funded and/or produced by us, freely and openly available creates a number of strategic opportunities: You can buy one copy, give 1000′s free....

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Application pointers

by SF Team, 20 February 2014

Prospective applicants often ask us to narrow down the parameters for applications and be more specific about what we’re looking for. We are not planning on doing that, as we want to be surprised and intrigued by applicants, no matter how unconventional the idea may be. However, we can provide some thoughts on what to keep in mind while developing your application for our fellowship. We hope these are useful, for applying for the Fellowship,...

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From Traditional Funder to Today

by SF Team, 16 February 2014

Our main goal was to improve the quality of education in South Africa. We invested in projects that offered unique and innovative solutions to educational challenges in a developing society, focused on the areas of science, technology, entrepreneurship and maths in education, as well as propagating the use of open source software. The Foundation operated as a traditional funding agency – we accepted proposals and funded them. Grantees implemented their projects and came back with...

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Openness

by SF Team, 15 January 2014

The open source software movement has not only created widely used software but million dollar businesses. Although the model is well established for software development, distribution and use, it is not the case for education, philanthropy, hardware or social development, to name but a few important endeavours. The default imposed on knowledge resources by copyright law is automatic lock down. This default makes little sense if your agenda is social change. We wanted to understand...