In the Next Industrial Revolution Atoms Are the New Bits – Wired and WITII?

As you’ve been reading here in many of my previous posts, one of the best examples of the Snowflake Effect and my constant quest around the theme of What if the Impossible Isn’t? (WITII?), is that of the extreme mass personalization of the manufacturing process.  This is essentially democratizing manufacturing and therefore most of our physical world of human designed and made "things".  This all ties in nicely or is part of the often called "Internet of Things".

Of course this is pure delight for me as The Snowflake Effect hits manufacturing and represents a huge surge forward in the transformation from mass production to mass customization.

IMHO, the importance and the long term effects of this new industrial revolution will be no less than and likely more than that of the previous.  Consider that most of our society, our education systems, our design models, our assumptions and our way of life are indelibly permeated by a mass production orientation and the influences of the initial industrial revolution.  Imagine, as I do, this is changing and doing so exponentially rapidly.  The future is a much more “Do it Yourself” DIY model, based on groups of individuals, access, collaboration, crowdsourcing and centered around great ideas.  Brace yourself for the future, it is already here.

I can therefore heartily recommend that you spend the time to read this recent Wired article in its entirety, watch the video and click on some of the many links in the article to learn more and likely convince yourself just how real and how big this coming revolution is. I’m confident you’ll agree it is a good use of your time.

The video is below and below that I’ve pulled a few quotes out which caught my mind’s eye.

Atoms Are the New Bits

Added: January 25, 2010

In an age of open source, custom-fabricated, DIY product design, all you need to conquer the world – and to profit – is a brilliant idea. Welcome to the next Industrial Revolution.

Some other significant out takes from the Wired article include:

"Within minutes, you have a whole new physical object: a rip, mix, and burn of atoms."

“Transformative change happens when industries democratize, when they’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments, and other institutions and handed over to regular folks. The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital — the long tail of bits.”

“Now the same is happening to manufacturing — the long tail of things.”

“Three guys with laptops” used to describe a Web startup. Now it describes a hardware company, too.”

“Hardware is becoming much more like software,”

“As Cory Doctorow puts it in his new book, Makers, “The days of companies with names like ‘General Electric’ and ‘General Mills’ and ‘General Motors’ are over. The money on the table is like krill: a billion little entrepreneurial opportunities that can be discovered and exploited by smart, creative people.””

“For a lens into the new world of open-access factories in China, check out Alibaba .com, the largest aggregator of the country’s manufacturers, products, and capabilities. Just search on the site (in English), find some companies producing more or less what you’re looking to make, and then use instant messaging to ask them if they can manufacture what you want. Alibaba’s IM can translate between Chinese and English in real time, so each person can communicate using their native language. Typically, responses come in minutes: We can’t make that; we can make that and here’s how to order it; we already make something quite like that and here’s what it costs.”


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