One interesting thing about open source software is that you can fully replicate an existing solution, modify it, and use it almost immediately to solve your problem.
When we look at open source hardware, we see that, yes, the same principle appears to apply, but it is missing the manufacturing component. Whereas a shell script in the software world might produce a binary that you can use, the hardware world doesn't have the same type of tool.
>From where should I source the parts to build the product?
>How do I assemble the parts once I get my hands on them?
By answering these questions, we provide the _full_ open source hardware solution that many of these open source hardware projects seem to fail to specify.
However, once we specify this information, we enter the real world where political forces exist, and simple sourcing information can immediately disrupt a supply-demand equilibrium. A solution that was previously economically viable through specified channels immediately becomes nonviable, something with which the open source software world doesn't have to deal.
My question is
_What will have to occur to bring the flexibility of the open source software world to the open source hardware world?_
Until you can instantly duplicate and send parts for hardware over the internet, just as you do with software, it cannot be as flexible as software. All you can do is give the schematics freely and let people replicate it if they so choose.