Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Next Industrial Revolution

Here are two great articles that illustrate an intriguing trend.

First, from Portfolio:
Conceived as a kind of Wikipedia for design—a place where designers could post new ideas and blueprints free of copyright and open to communal editing—Thingiverse intends to prove that shared intellectual property can create objects that work better.

In Pettis' somewhat utopian model, it would also provide a new, nonmercenary model for consumption: a world where blueprints circulate freely, and consumers cheerfully fabricate their own coffee tables. Consumers "want to participate in an object beyond just the act of buying it," Pettis argues. "Just a couple years ago, there were maybe 10 people publishing digital designs. Now we're in the hundreds."

Continue reading.

And second, from Wired:
The economy may be cratering, but people are stampeding to handmade goods. Why? Part of it is a supply-side phenomenon: Thanks to the Web-fueled boom in DIY culture, there are more one-of-a-kind products being made. With sites like,, and, it's now feasible to train yourself in a marketable craft using nothing but online guides. You can learn even derangedly complex knitting patterns or skills like circuit-soldering when you've got a YouTube video walking you through each step.

And if you're making awesome stuff in your spare time, pretty soon you'll start thinking: Hey, I could sell this, couldn't I? Not a bad way to recession-proof your household.

Continue reading.

On-demand custom manufacturing is likely to transform how we produce many consumer goods in the near future. The effects of this transformation on our society are likely to be substantial. If you think the world is changing quickly now, just wait until these technologies have come of age. Then things will really start to get crazy.

How crazy? Perhaps Cory Doctorow crazy.

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