People are not quick to realize the potential that will emerge from the Makers Movement.
Yes, the ability to hit a "make" button from your desktop as simply as it is for you hit the "print" button may not be just around the corner... but it's not that far off. Yes, today, the ability to do anything significant with 3D printing and robotics is cumbersome and relegated to a small few, but let's not forget the feelings we all had when home computers were first introduced. They too were extremely cumbersome, hard to use, complicated and costly. Currently, the average consumer wouldn't even know what to do with these types of devices... and that's perfectly fine. We had no idea what we would do with a home computer, either.
What we can't afford to do is to ignore the future.
I am currently reading Makers - The New Industrial Revolution, the latest business book from Chris Anderson (editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine and author of The Long Tail and Free) very, very slowly. I tend to read books like this slow for one reason (and one reason only): I do not want it to end. Reading Makers reminds me of the first time I read The Cluetrain Manifesto. It just feels like technology is going to make everything change (again). This one, practically, reeks of a new global economy (and I don't take those words lightly). Yes, I realize that the vast majority of current Maker culture is relegated to hobbyists, but I just can't help but imagine a world where highly customized and branded products are created, produced and distributed in a very different way.
From Chris Anderson...
"What we're clearly doing is enabling a new class of entrepreneurial companies that can address markets of ten thousand. You know, ten thousand is kind of an arbitrary number, but when you think of ten thousand, it's too small for a big company and too [large] for an individual. And yet, what the maker market does is that it allows you to prototype things, get funding, and then have access to manufacturing that can sort of scale up. It allows you to target to those markets of 10,000. Now, some of those markets of 10,000 are going to stay at 10,000, they are niche, the 'long tail' stuff if you will, referring to my first book. But some of them are going to be the next markets of 10 million. And, what's great about the markets that start at 10,000 and then kind of organically make it to 10 million, is that those products are going to be ones the world has asked for, that the world has helped develop. They've passed the test of the marketplace."
If you don't have the bandwidth to read Makers, check out this conversation with Chris Anderson from TechCrunch TV.