Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The net goes physical

Slate reviews a new book by Chris Anderson of Wired:

The PC spawned the ubiquitous Internet, which in turn inspired a social and economic revolution in digital media: the Web, Napster, blogging, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Still, digital media represents only a tiny sliver of the world economy. Now, Anderson argues, the maker movement is bringing the same technical advances that we saw in media—instant reproduction, endless customization, easy fabrication, and much more widely distributed means of production—to the much larger business of physical things. In the same way that the Web allowed amateurs to become journalists and photographers and filmmakers, these new technologies will let inventive doodlers turn their creations into real stuff. And not just stuff, but stuff that can be made on a large scale and sold to people around the world, competing with the mass-manufactured goods that now dominate our retail shelves. If things go well, we might even see the American economy benefitting from something many of us thought was in permanent decline—local manufacturing. “You think the last two decades were amazing?” Anderson asks. “Just wait.”

We've looked at some of this before, in terms of improved automation and algorithms.


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