The bit about my own history was just to illustrate that young people (the target audience for RP apparently) do take an interest in that sort of thing, not to suggest a method! Of course nobody would use that approach any more! (The Elite reference was because David Braben co-authored Elite and is also involved in RP).
If analysing the blob statically, and if you know the instruction architecture, we have much better tools now, including disassemblers, decompilers, type inference and much more. And internet so we can collaborate better.
16MB is a big blob, but it's highly unlikely that much of it is needed to make a useful open source subset of the functionality.
For perspective on speed: Recently I had to reverse engineer about half of a 1.5MB ARM driver blob in some detail, enough to fix bugs and improve performance deep within it. I'm not going to say what it was, only that it took me about 2 weeks with objdump and some scripts, not using more advanced tools. I didn't enjoy it because it was just to fix some bugs the manufacturer left in :-/ (The best bit was a one-bit change that tripled video playback performance and stopped it stuttering :roll-eyes:)
But there may be a big fat license prohibiting anyone from openly using the results of that type of deep code analysis on the RP's blob.
Plus, there's the secret GPU/RISC architecture to get to grips with; that's not going to be obvious.
So it would probably have to be Nouveau-style: Run the original, watch its interactions with the device (with tracing probes), replay things, change things randomly, try things, gradually build up a picture through guessing as much as anything. That's a much bigger task than statically analysing a blob's code. (At least, to me it seems so.) I don't know whether it's practical on the RP, and I don't know whether it's too difficult. But it worked with Nouveau - and that now supports a lot of nVidia chips - so not to be dismissed as impossible.
You never start all over after a chip rev. That's why they call them revs, not new architectures. You can diff code in blobs if need be; often the changes for a chip rev are very small.
You may be right about needing a lot of 11-year-olds (or others). Luckily the RP is cheap and interesting enough, that it might attract enough interest.
The suggestion isn't all that serious, but nor is it an impossible task, so I think it's worth floating the idea around, see how much interest there is in at least looking further at the practicalities and legalities.