Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson debuted DEFCAD, his open-source, unregulated search engine for 3d printing designs, at SXSW this week. Positioning itself as a renegade alternative to MakerBot’s Thingiverse, DEFCAD promises no takedowns of any designs and a focus on the “important things” that big business has an interest in regulating: drugs, medical devices, and of course, Wilson’s pet cause: guns.
The site, for which Wilson hopes to raise $100,000, does a lot of things right–shifting the focus away from guns exclusively and towards open access and freedom of information, calling to use 3D-printing towards more useful and subversive ends–but the self-consciously portentous rhetoric and military imagery (a USB stick full of all DEFCAD’s designs comes on a dogtag, for example) are a bit much.
Most interesting is a section on the site’s splash page that details how a portion of the proceeds from DEFCAD purchases will be donated.
Hackers are persecuted by federal prosecutors while the basic needs of veterans go unmet. All purchases mediated by the defcad.com search engine will be rounded up to the nearest dollar; 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the VFW, and 50% will be donated to 4chan to support free speech on the internet.
The VFW bit isn’t surprising, but the 4Chan donations stand out. It’s not often someone who has friendly discussions with Glenn Beck on TheBlaze TV is also palling around with hackers and trolls, but it makes sense–the free access to information promoted by groups like the Pirate Bay and isn’t all that different from the deregulated markets championed by Libertarians and Tea Partiers. One believes the exchange of ideas would best be served by removing copyright and intellectual property laws; the other believes the exchange of goods and services can only truly flourish without economic regulation. And as 3D printing moves forward and the line between intellectual and physical property gets blurrier, it’s reasonable to expect more of this crossover between traditional and net-minded libertarianism.
“DEFCAD stands against artificial scarcity, intellectual property, copyright, patentable objects, and regulation in all of its forms,” “If 3D printing is going to be developed as a technology, we need specific tools to help get around industry, [and] government.”
“Talk is nice. Platitudes are easy,” he adds later. “But a revolution means a revolution.”