“The Desktop Manufacturing Revolution”

Interesting article over at Fast Company, The Desktop Manufacturing Revolution by Jamais CascioThe end of the current production-manufacturing economic model may be on the horizon. But what if nothing’s ready to replace it?

Clay Shirky recently described revolutions as situations in which “…the old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place.” He was talking about newspapers, but the insight can apply much more broadly. Advertising, for example, seems to be going through its own revolution, with existing models falling to tatters without a clear successor waiting in the wings. Education is another example, and some would argue that a similar process is underway in the realm of international power and politics.

Shirky’s observation came to mind while watching a recording of Bruce Sterling’s closing keynote for the ReBoot conference last month. Late in the talk, Bruce tosses out this line: “Objects are print-outs.” He goes on to discuss how to rethink one’s relationship with material possessions in an increasingly precarious world, but the “objects are print-outs” line stuck with me. It encapsulates not just an attitude towards material possessions, but–in one pithy phrase–one possible shape of the next economy.

The article and the closing talk from Bruce Sterling are both worth a read/listen…

2 thoughts on ““The Desktop Manufacturing Revolution”

  1. Jason says:

    I can’t help but like Bruce Sterling. He’s a bit odd and quirky at times, but I find that his perspective often jars something loose in my thinking.

    I really like these two lines where he was talking about re-purposing buildings (shortly after 23:00 in the video)

    “The curse of your generation is also your frontier”


    “The wreckage of the unsustainable is your heritage”

    There’s a ton of these buildings in my area, and I’d love to figure out a way to re-purpose them into usable spaces effectively and cheaply (hacker spaces, urban greenhouses, etc). Is seems like there should be a way to take ownership of these types of abandoned structures. Perhaps some loophole in the law. Thanks Bruce! Now I have yet another research project. ;)

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