Is the Maker Movement the New Industrial Revolution?

Is the Maker Movement the New Industrial Revolution?


Over 4,500 people attended the first #RVAMakerFest held last Saturday at the Science Museum of Virginia. I heard great things about it, the most telling was “Next year, it needs to be two-days long, there was just so much to do!”, this from a nine year old.

According to Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine, we are on the cusp of a new industrial revolution. He describes the first industrial evolution in response to mechanisation; replacing muscle power with machine power and amplifying human productivity by letting machines do the work. The second industrial revolution, he states, was arguably the computer revolution. But it wasn’t the invention of computers. It was their democratisation; putting them in the hands of everybody with the PC and the Internet that unleashed a huge amount of talent, energy and creativity which was transformative. The third industrial revolution is just a combination of the first two: it’s the Web revolution meets manufacturing.

In our new world of digital information, (almost) everyone can tell their own stories, create their own content, create new business, and new markets. As design becomes easily possible in digital formats, collaborative communities sprout up quickly and easily. You can send a digital file to a local printer, to be made in units of one, or send it elsewhere, via cloud manufacturing services be made in the thousands. And, you have places like Kickstarter that can generate the funding and Etsy that can act as a global outlet for sales. All this from the comfort of your own home office.

Prototyping is the new industry and the revolution is that the tools are going to get better and cheaper to use. Put a 3D printer in a room full of kids and light bulbs will go off. We can train a generation to believe that anything they can imagine, they can make. Let’s hope next year’s MakerFest last for two days – or a week, there is so much to do.

Read Anderson’s conversation here, it’s fascinating.


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