Over a few months in early 2011, in the course of doing research for an IFTF Tech Horizons Program’s study on the future of “open fabrication,” I convened what turned out to be a remarkable, free-wheeling conversation among a set of pioneering thinker/makers in China, Singapore, and the U.S. What started out as a set of distinct one-on-one research emails turned into a group discussion on the nature of Chinese manufacturing, global open innovation, and the burgeoning, disruptive potential of the growing connections between (mostly) Western-based hackers and agile Chinese manufacturing networks. As David Li wrote: Shanzhai and Open Source Hardware are twins separated at birth and if we can join them, it will create some very interesting opportunities.
I wrote a piece for our internal report, available to Tech Horizons clients, which focused mainly on 3D printing and design. However, our email conversation ranged well beyond that topic, and I’ve been meaning to release this great stuff into the wild for some time now. I’ve cobbled together two readings. Below you can find some of the best quotes taken out of context and lightly organized across some broad categories. You can also download the long, slightly edited, more-or-less chronological version of our conversation, with the permission of all participants. 19 pages of conversation. Hope you enjoy.