Episode 4

Jan Dittrich and the Anthropology of Open Source Design


July 28th, 2021

35 mins 29 secs

Your Hosts
Special Guest

About this Episode


Jan Dittrich


Eriol Fox | Richard Littauer

Show Notes

Hello and welcome to Sustain Open Source Design! On this podcast, we will talk about sustaining open source with design. Learn how we, as designers, interface with open source in a sustainable way, how we integrate into different communities, and how we as coders, work with other designers. Our special guest is Jan Dittrich, a UX Designer and researcher. He works at Wikimedia Germany and is working on their PhD about self-directed learning practices in anthropology. Today, we find out Jan’s journey through open source, projects he has done with art and design students around open source, what he’s doing with his PhD work in anthropology, what he means by “nerd culture,” working with recipes and methods, and where he sees the open source movement going in the future. Go ahead and download this episode now to find out much more, and if you’re interested please subscribe!

[00:01:38] Jan tells us their journey through open source and how he got from there to where he is today.

[00:04:15] Jan tells us what projects he did with art students and design students around open source.

[00:08:00] We learn about Jan’s PhD in anthropology and what he’s doing there. He also explains “nerd culture.”

[00:12:56] Eriol asks Jan to speak about their work and investigation into open source culture, UX Design culture, and design culture specifically, also the cultural overlaps and their work there.

[00:17:20] Eriol wonders if Jan thinks this culture is shifting and what he has noticed changing in the ten years of being involved in various different projects.

[00:20:59] Richard mentions since Jan works a lot with recipes and methods trying to figure out how people are working together, he wonders what Jan thinks a better system might include.

[00:25:19] We find out what Jan thinks about what the open source design movement is doing right now, where he sees it going in the future, and the different work he does as well. Eriol shares a recent mentoring experience they had recently.

[00:29:58] Jan gives us some closing thoughts on their experiences with open source design and open source.

[00:31:54] Find out where you can follow Jan on the internet.


  • [00:32:58] Richard’s spotlight is a PDF he read by John Wiegley, “Git from the Bottom Up” which is a great resource for understanding how Git works.
  • [00:33:37] Eriol’s spotlight is an open source project called Beyond20, which integrates with various things that you can use to play Dungeons & Dragons.
  • [00:34:10] Jan’s spotlight is an open source project called p5.js, which is a JavaScript library for creative coding.