Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (Anglais) Broché – 4 avril 2013
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The Invention Revolution
Fred Hauser, my maternal grandfather, emigrated to Los Angeles from Bern, Switzerland, in 1926. He was trained as a machinist, and perhaps inevitably for Swiss mechanical types, there was a bit of the watchmaker in him, too. Fortunately, at that time the young Hollywood was something of a clockwork industry, too, with its mechanical cameras, projection systems, and the new technology of magnetic audio strips. Hauser got a job at MGM Studios working on recording technology, got married, had a daughter (my mom), and settled in a Mediterranean bungalow on a side street in Westwood where every house had a lush front lawn and a garage in the back.
But Hauser was more than a company engineer. By night, he was also an inventor. He dreamed of machines, drew sketches and then mechanical drawings of them, and built prototypes. He converted his garage to a workshop, and gradually equipped it with the tools of creation: a drill press, a band saw, a jig saw, grinders, and, most important, a full-size metal lathe, which is a miraculous device that can, in the hands of an expert operator, turn blocks of steel or aluminum into precision-machined mechanical sculpture ranging from camshafts to valves.
Initially his inventions were inspired by his day job, and involved various kinds of tape-transport mechanisms. But over time his attention shifted to the front lawn. The hot California sun and the local mania for perfect green-grass plots had led to a booming industry in sprinkler systems, and as the region grew prosperous, gardens were torn up to lay irrigation systems. Proud homeowners came home from work, turned on the valves, and admired the water-powered wizardry of pop‑up rotors, variable-stream nozzles, and impact sprinkler heads spreading water beautifully around their plots. Impressive, aside from the fact that they all required manual intervention, if nothing more than just to turn on the valves in the first place. What if they could be driven by some kind of clockwork, too?
Patent number 2311108 for “Sequential Operation of Service Valves,” filed in 1943, was Hauser’s answer. The patent was for an automatic sprinkler system, which was basically an electric clock that turned water valves on and off. The clever part, which you can still find echoes of today in lamp timers and thermostats, is the method of programming: the “clock” face is perforated with rings of holes along the rim at each five-minute mark. A pin placed in any hole triggers an electrical actuator called a solenoid, which toggles a water valve on or off to control that part of the sprinkler system. Each ring represented a different branch of the irrigation network. Together they could manage an entire yard—front, back, patio, and driveway areas.
Once he had constructed the prototype and tested it in his own garden, Hauser filed his patent. With the patent application pending, he sought to bring it to market. And there was where the limits of the twentieth-century industrial model were revealed.
It used to be hard to change the world with an idea alone. You can invent a better mousetrap, but if you can’t make it in the millions, the world won’t beat a path to your door. As Marx observed, power belongs to those who control the means of production. My grandfather could invent the automatic sprinkler system in his workshop, but he couldn’t build a factory there. To get to market, he had to interest a manufacturer in licensing his invention. And that is not only hard, but requires the inventor to lose control of his or her invention. The owners of the means of production get to decide what is produced.
In the end, my grandfather got lucky—to a point. Southern California was the center of the new home irrigation industry, and after much pitching, a company called Moody agreed to license his automatic sprinkler system. In 1950 it reached the market as the Moody Rainmaster, with a promise to liberate homeowners so they could go to the beach for the weekend while their gardens watered themselves. It sold well, and was followed by increasingly sophisticated designs, for which my grandfather was paid royalties until the last of his automatic sprinkler patents expired in the 1970s.
This was a one-in-a-thousand success story; most inventors toil in their workshops and never get to market. But despite at least twenty-six other patents on other devices, he never had another commercial hit. By the time he died in 1988, I estimate he had earned only a few hundred thousand dollars in total royalties. I remember visiting the company that later bought Moody, Hydro-Rain, with him as a child in the 1970s to see his final sprinkler system model being made. They called him “Mr. Hauser” and were respectful, but it was apparent they didn’t know why he was there. Once they had licensed the patents, they then engineered their own sprinkler systems, designed to be manufacturable, economical, and attractive to the buyer’s eye. They bore no more resemblance to his prototypes than his prototypes did to his earliest tabletop sketches.
This was as it must be; Hydro-Rain was a company making many tens of thousands of units of a product in a competitive market driven by price and marketing. Hauser, on the other hand, was a little old Swiss immigrant with an expiring invention claim who worked out of a converted garage. He didn’t belong at the factory, and they didn’t need him. I remember that some hippies in a Volkswagen yelled at him for driving too slowly on the highway back from the factory. I was twelve and mortified. If my grandfather was a hero of twentieth-century capitalism, it certainly didn’t look that way. He just seemed like a tinkerer, lost in the real world.
Yet Hauser’s story is no tragedy; indeed, it was a rare success story from that era. My grandfather was, as best I can remember (or was able to detect; he fit the caricature of a Swiss engineer, more comfortable with a drafting pencil than with conversation), happy, and he lived luxuriously by his standards. I suspect he was compensated relatively fairly for his patent, even if my stepgrandmother (my grandmother died early) complained about the royalty rates and his lack of aggression in negotiating them. He was by any measure an accomplished inventor. But after his death, as I went through his scores of patent filings, including a clock timer for a stove and a Dictaphone-like recording machine, I couldn’t help but observe that of his many ideas, only the sprinklers actually made it to market at all.
Why? Because he was an inventor, not an entrepreneur. And in that distinction lies the core of this book.
It used to be hard to be an entrepreneur. The great inventor/businessmen of the First Industrial Revolution, such as James Watt and Matthew Boulton of steam-engine fame, were not just smart but privileged. Most were either born into the ruling class or lucky enough to be apprenticed to one of the elite. For most of history since then, entrepreneurship has meant either setting up a corner grocery shop or some other sort of modest local business or, more rarely, a total pie-in-the-sky crapshoot around an idea that is more likely to bring ruination than riches.
Today we are spoiled by the easy pickings of the Web. Any kid with an idea and a laptop can create the seeds of a world-changing company—just look at Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook or any one of thousands of other Web startups hoping to follow his path. Sure, they may fail, but the cost is measured in overdue credit-card payments, not lifelong disgrace and a pauper’s prison.
The beauty of the Web is that it democratized the tools both of invention and of production. Anyone with an idea for a service can turn it into a product with some software code (these days it hardly even requires much programming skill, and what you need you can learn online)—no patent required. Then, with a keystroke, you can “ship it” to a global market of billions of people.
Maybe lots of people will notice and like it, or maybe they won’t. Maybe there will be a business model attached, or maybe there won’t. Maybe riches lie at the end of this rainbow, or maybe they don’t. But the point is that the path from “inventor” to “entrepreneur” is so foreshortened it hardly exists at all anymore.
Indeed, startup factories such as Y Combinator now coin entrepreneurs first and ideas later. Their “startup schools” admit smart young people on the basis of little more than a PowerPoint presentation. Once admitted, the would-be entrepreneurs are given spending money, whiteboards, and desk space and told to dream up something worth funding in three weeks.
Most do, which says as much about the Web’s ankle-high barriers to entry as it does about the genius of the participants. Over the past six years, Y Combinator has funded three hundred such companies, with such names as Loopt, Wufoo, Xobni, Heroku, Heyzap, and Bump. Incredibly, some of them (such as DropBox and Airbnb) are now worth billions of dollars. Indeed, the company I work for, Condé Nast, even bought one of them, Reddit, which now gets more than 2 billion page views a month. It’s on its third team of twentysomething genius managers; for some of them, this is their first job and they’ve never known anything but stratospheric professional success.
But that is the world of bits, those elemental units of the digital world. The Web Age has liberated bits; they are cheaply created and travel cheaply, too. This is fantastic; the weightless economics of bits has reshaped everything from culture to economics. It is perhaps the defining characteristic of the twenty-first century (I’ve written a couple of books on that, too). Bits have changed the world.
We, however, live mostly in the world of atoms, also known as the Real World of Places and Stuff. Huge as information industries have become, they’re still a sideshow in the world economy. To put a ballpark figure on it, the digital economy, broadly defined, represents $20 trillion of revenues, according to Citibank and Oxford Economics. The economy beyond the Web, by the same estimate, is about $130 trillion. In short, the world of atoms is at least five times larger than the world of bits.
We’ve seen what the Web’s model of democratized innovation has done to spur entrepreneurship and economic growth. Just imagine what a similar model could do in the larger economy of Real Stuff. More to the point, there’s no need to imagine—it’s already starting to happen. That’s what this book is about. There are thousands of entrepreneurs emerging today from the Maker Movement who are industrializing the do-it-yourself (DIY) spirit. I think my grandfather, as bemused as he might be by today’s open-source and online “co-creation,” would resonate with the Maker Movement. Indeed, I think he might be proud.
The making of a Maker
In the 1970s, I spent some of my happiest childhood summers with my grandfather in Los Angeles, visiting from my home on the East Coast and learning to work with my hands in his workshop. One spring, he announced that we would be making a four-stroke gasoline engine and that he had ordered a kit we could build together. When I arrived in Los Angeles that summer, the box was waiting. I had built my share of models, and opened the box expecting the usual numbered parts and assembly instructions. Instead, there were three big blocks of metal and a crudely cast engine casing. And a large blueprint, a single sheet folded many times.
“Where are the parts?” I asked. “They’re in there,” my grandfather replied, pointing to the metal blocks. “It’s our job to get them out.” And that’s exactly what we did that summer. Using the blueprint as a guide, we cut, drilled, ground, and turned those blocks of metal, extracting a crankshaft, piston and rod, bearings, and valves out of solid brass and steel, much as an artist extracts a sculpture from a block of marble. As the pile of metal curlicues from the steel turning on the lathe grew around my feet, I marveled at the power of tools and skilled hands (my grandfather’s, not mine). We had conjured a precision machine from a lump of metal. We were a mini-factory, and we could make anything.
But as I got older, I stopped returning to my grandfather’s workshop and forgot about my fascination with making things. Blame screens. My generation was the first to get personal computers, and I was more enthralled with them than with anything my grandfather could make. I learned to program, and my creations were in code, not steel. Tinkering in a workshop seemed trivial compared to unlocking the power of a microprocessor.
Zines, Sex Pistols, and the birth of Indie
When I reached my twenties, I had my second DIY moment. I was living in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s, when it was one of the hotspots of the American punk rock movement. Bands such as Minor Threat and the Teen Idles were being formed by white suburban teenagers and playing in church basements. Despite not knowing how to play an instrument and having limited talent, I got caught up in the excitement of the moment and played in some of the lesser bands in the scene. It was eye-opening.
Like all garage rock and roll, all you needed to be in a band was an electric guitar and an amp. But what was new about the 1980s punk phenomenon was that the bands did more than just play; they also started to publish. Photocopiers were becoming common, and from them arose a “zine” culture of DIY magazines that were distributed at stores and shows and by mail. Cheap four-track tape recorders allowed bands to record and mix their own music, without a professional studio. And a growing industry of small vinyl-pressing plants let them make small-batch singles and EPs, which they sold via mail order and local shops.
This was the start of the DIY music industry. The tools of the major labels—recording, manufacturing, and marketing music—were now in the hands of individuals. Eventually some of these bands, led by Minor Threat and then Fugazi, started their own indie label, Dischord, which eventually produced hundred of records and is still running today. They didn’t need to compromise their music to get published, and they didn’t need to sell in big numbers or get radio play. They could find their own fans; indeed, the fans found them via word of mouth, and postcards poured into such micro-labels to order music that couldn’t be found in most stores. The relative obscurity conferred authenticity and contributed to the rise of the global underground that defines Web culture today. --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
Revue de presse
"Chris Anderson has been called many things: a visionary, a pioneer of the Internet economy, a proselytizer of DIY 2.0. But it's probably more apt to think of him as a weather vane: He might not control the winds of change, but he's often the first to see which way they're blowing." -Foreign Policy
"Chris understands that the owners of the means of production get to decide what is produced. And now you're the owner. This book will change your life, whether you read it or not, so I suggest you get in early." –Seth Godin, bestselling author of Tribes and Purple Cow
“A visionary preview of the next technological revolution. If you want to know where the future is headed, start here.” –Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0
“Makers is must read for understanding the transformative changes that are shaping, and will shape, the future of inventing.” –Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality
"Inspiring and engaging. Anderson delivers a compelling blueprint of a future where America can lead in making things again." –Elon Musk, co-fouder of Tesla Motors and CEO of SpaceX
“In Makers, Chris Anderson gives us a fascinating glimpse of a hands-on future, a future where ‘if you can imagine it, you can build it.’” –Dan Heath, co-author of Switch and Made to Stick
“For those who have marveled at the way software has helped disrupt industry after industry - buckle up, that wave is coming soon to an industry near you. Chris Anderson has written a compelling and important book about how technology is about to completely shake up how America makes things. Required reading for entrepreneurs, policy makers, and leaders who want to survive and thrive in this brave new world.” –Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup
"The Maker movement powered by desktop manufacturing will revolutionize the global economy. Chris Anderson once again reinvents the future in "Makers": a big vision driven by down-to-earth and practical ideas. A must read for anyone who wants to see the leading edge of change." –Peter Schwartz, Co-founder of Global Business Network and author of The Art of the Long View
--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Relié .
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I think there are a few things worth adding. First while digital fabrication technology is amazing it is only as useful as the people using it. A cnc router won't make you a good cabinet maker any more that a word processor will make you a good writer or a digital synthesizer will make you a good musician. A synthesizer enables a good musician to become a whole orchestra almost instantly. But a bad musician still sounds like a bad musician and a bad writer is just as annoying as ever to read. What these technologies do is allow the talented craftsman, musician, writer to be more productive than ever, and also lower the barriers to entry for the people with talent who are not part of the established social hierarchy.
In my own shop I don't have my own cnc equipment. When I take on a project like a kitchen, I simply email lists of parts (doors, drawers, carvings) to fabricators not far from my shop and in some cases the parts come back to me the next morning. My suppliers don't stock inventory, they fabricate the parts digitally and so they can produce whatever I want in whatever sizes I want. This is the easy part of my job. The hard part getting the clients to decide on what they want, and figuring out how to fit everything they want into the space they have on their budget. To use a car analogy most clients want something like a "Hummer/Lamborghini/Porsche/Lexus/Rolls" for the price of a Focus. They often send me 3d cad drawings of their dream kitchen. It is nearly always like those famous drawings by Escher. At first glance they seem very geometrically precise, but they can't exist in 3 dimensional reality. Squaring this circle is always a challenge, and demands a combining the skills of an expert cabinet maker with those of a psychotherapist. The second hard part of my job is fitting cabinets which are always made to be regular shapes into old real houses which are never square or level. Accomplishing this task demands the skills of an expert finish carpenter, tricks that I learned from my grandfather.
In short to be a cabinet maker in the digital age you still need all the skills of a traditional cabinet maker. However what digital technology and advances in new technology in general mean is that small shops can now compete with large factories in a way they couldn't 30 years ago. I can now offer my clients anything that large factory kitchen manufacturers could in the past. For example, 30 years ago complex cabinet door styles could only be made custom at great expense using traditional cabinet shop tools or economically in large batches at big factories. Now I can order 1 door if I need it economically. And, I can beat mass production companies hands down in terms of service and speed.
In many cases I can also compete with mass producers on cost. This is because I have lower transaction costs. One of the things that frightens small scale producers is the fact that labour costs of small scale production can't compete with mass production particularly if the goods can be produced in places like China. People say "They make that thing in China for $5, how can I compete". However, if the small scale producer sells locally they don't have to compete with the $5 labour cost in China; they only have to compete with the $50 or $100 retail cost in their local market. The goods that are produced in China have a long list of transaction costs associated with them: transportation, wholesaling, retailing, packaging, inventory, obsolescence, corporate expenses and profit, mass market advertising and promotion. All these costs mean that the widget that is produced for $ 5 needs to sell for $ 50 or $ 100 to make a profit. This leaves lots of room for local artisans to make a living, as long as they keep their transaction costs down.
Anderson points out the digital crowd is rediscovering actual reality. I think he does not go far enough in this. People like actual reality. One of the things little noted in the frenzy of the digital revolution is the success of the Home Depot retail model. 30 years ago building materials was a virtual business. Materials were stored in warehouses to which customers both commercial and retail had no access. Most businesses would simply phone the supplier, say what they wanted and give an account number or use a visa and it would be delivered, much like ordering things online but over the phone. Even if you went to a lumber yard, you would usually go to a desk and order things and they would be brought out to you. Home Depot changed all this by putting everything on open shelves so people could go in a play with it. The builders supply became playground for handy people. At the height of the virtual revolution, Home Depot took over the market for home building supplies by `going actual'.
I find this in my own business. While the web is a good way to get my name out, showing people real physical samples is the best way to close a sale. After a visit I always make sure I leave a potential customer with a few samples to play with. This way my brand sits on the kitchen table while they are trying to come to a decision.
All this points to the possibility of a business model that Anderson hints at, but does not really explore; the return of the traditional neighborhood artisan. A few hundred years ago if you wanted a pair of shoes, or a coat or a piece of furniture you went to a shoemaker, or a tailor or a cabinet maker and told them what you wanted and they made it for you. There was personal contact between the producer and the consumer, you could touch and feel the materials and say what you liked. People could take pride in their work and see the smiles on the faces of happy customers.
This was a world wiped out by mass production. Huge production runs meant the artisan could not compete with mass produced goods. But mass production brought its own costs. The producer and the consumer became separated by a huge faceless corporate distribution system, which pretended to care, but most suspected really didn't. This was partially documented by Marx as worker alienation. The flipside, consumer alienation, is perhaps best documented by Monty Python. Mass production also brings with it a whole host of transaction costs, noted above, which make it not as cheap as it might at first appear.
New production technology offers the possibility of changing all this. When I go to a shoe store it is always a frustrating experience. I always want some combination of style and size that they never seem to have in the back. Imagine however if a shoe store had say 50 or 100 basic shoes that you could try on for size and fit, as well as some other samples that you could use to pick the styles. With the help of an expert shoemaker you could try on the fitting samples until you found something comfortable. Then you could use the style samples to mix and match all the colour and style details that fit your taste. This shoe store would not have a big warehouse of boxes in the back but some rolls of material as well as some cnc cutting and printing machines and specialized assembly tools. Depending on the complexity of the order you could go and have a coffee and then come back and pick up your order, or maybe come back the next day. This shoe store would give you exactly what you want as well as have some real cost benefits. There would be no packaging cost, low inventory costs, and much lower transportation costs. (Compressed rolls of material are much cheaper to transport and store than packaged finished good). Many of these cost reductions would also be environmental benefits, such as less packaging and transport. And worker and consumer alienation would be a thing of the past.
This is how I run my cabinet shop and I think it has great potential. Sign shops already work on this model. Perhaps the mall of the future could look like the high street of old, with shoemakers, tailors and furniture makers crafting what you want when you want them. The digital world provides the infrastructure and the tools, but the purchasing process would be actual and face to face. The best of both worlds maybe?
(I also wrote a doctoral dissertation at Oxford which was in large part about the relationship of the world of things to the world of symbols, so I have also been interested in these problems from a philosophical perspective. My examiners, postmodernists who don't believe in outdated concepts like `reality', didn't take kindly to it.)
If you never heard about Makers, 3D-printing, digital fabrication, Arduino, Kickstarter, and the new DIY movement, then this book is a great start (also check out the article The third industrial revolution by The Economist).
As in his previous books (The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More and Free: How Today's Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing), Anderson does a great job in explaining a nascent trend in an easy language and with plenty of examples. Much of what he writes about is backed by his personal experience and through his access to key actors of the maker movement.
The book tells the story of the maker movement and compares it to the previous industrial revolutions, presenting the thesis that this shift in manufacturing could offer a way for the USA (and the Western world in general) to fend off the predominance of China in the production of physical objects. Anderson explains how manufacturing ("the world of things"), or more appropriately, digital manufacturing, is following the same steps as the Web, which has democratized publishing, broadcasting and communications, into the world of atoms, allowing almost anybody with a smart idea and a little expertise to make those ideas into physical objects.
*The Tools of the Maker Movement
Anderson describes the basic Maker tools -hardware and software- and their underlying technologies by dedicating a final chapter that describes such tools as:
-3D printers - additive processes like Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
-CNC (computer numerical control) machines - a substractive technology
-Laser Cutters (according to Anderson this is the "real workhorse of the Maker Movement [...] they're the digital tool everyone uses first, in part because they're so simple and foolproof.")
-G-Code (the machine language used by 3D printers, CNC machines and others)
-Software like AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator, Solid Works, Sketchup, TinkerCAD and many others.
*Making & Marketing
As a marketer, I found interesting the author's reflections on community building and marketing:
"When you're creating a community from scratch, consider starting it as a social network rather than as a blog or a discussion group. [...] One of the key elements of a successful community is content with broad appeal [...] such rich, engaging content is marketing -- marketing of the community itself, but also of the products that the community has created. Whether they thing of it this way or not, the most successful Makers are also the best marketers. They're constantly blogging about their progress, and tweeting, too.
Of course, it's not just marketing: the reason that it's so effective is that it's also providing something of value that people appreciate and pay attention to. But at the end of the day, everything you do, from the naming of your product to whose coattail you decide to ride (like we chose Arduino), is at least partly a marketing decision."
Stop reading, make something
The natural step after reading Makers would be to, well, actually make something. I've been playing with Arduinos and have had access to laser cutters and 3D printers in the past, but never really engaged in a project. Now I've just joined the Fablab in Torino, Italy, for a practical introductory course to 3D printing and am working on a 2D design to run through a laser cutter, probably at the FabCafe (which as its name implies, is a coffee place with laser cutting machine and soon other maker tools) in Tokyo during my next visit (will report on that when it's done).
*Who is this book for?
If you're a maker already, this book will add little or nothing to your knowledge but it could be a great gift to offer to those that think you're kinda crazy and that you waste too much time tinkering at your workbench.
Proposing that a technology like 3D printing -- which is becoming increasingly cheaper, better, faster and omnipresent -- can change the world, and actually calling it a new industrial revolution might raise lot's of neck hair stand on end.
But the author's experience as an editor and writer (I also recommend his two other books: the Long Tail about the rise of niche products and services in a mass market global economy, and Free, a book about how pricing schemes of $0 and giving thing away can still be a profitable business model) plays to his favour, crafting a coherent and enthusiastic discourse with enough back up stories to make it sound not only believable, but desirable as well.
In his vision of the near future, or even more, our current present, home-brew manufacturing stands to revolutionise the American economy. Is he right about this?
In 1776 the (first) Industrial Revolution replaced human power with machine power, thus amplifying human potential. Machines could take a simple gesture, or small physical effort from a person first, a water, steam, diesel or electrical machine later, and obtain faster results with less effort. "Things" could be built, but more to that, industries were born, both in the sense of a place with building facilities, and also in the economical terms of marketplace and trade.
He proposes there's a second Industrial Revolution, the digital revolution of the late seventies and early eighties, with Personal Computers. Interestingly enough, he sets the date to 1985, when Apple released the LaserWriter printer as a Desktop Publishing platform, and not the release of the Personal Computers a few years before that.
In that way, using the word Desktop (desktop computer, desktop publishing, desktop manufacturing) empowers industrial changes just presented democratising the tools of creation. Publishing quickly became the common thing on the web -- and the web became the common thing before that, so we "posted, uploaded, and shared" our way into this decade. Desktop technologies gave people tools of digital creation. Once attached to the network, the tools of distribution were democratised. Now we can do the same that big corporations could previously do, at least still in the digital trade.
But does the same paradigm apply to 3D prints? And how?
From that on -- he argues - it's not hard to see that the past ten years have been about finding new social and innovation models on the web, and the following ten are about getting things on the real world; "Atoms are the new bits" he said at a recent conference.
Today, it may seem as a simplified version of reality to just say that with access to digital fabrication tools, wether our own or in a Maker Space or FabLab "everyone with an idea, will have the tools to realise it", but it's a provocative thought, in the same line as in one of it chapter's title "we are all designers now, me might as well get good at it".
What does it take to get all those ideas into the "real" world is what makes the difference, and "maker tools" make that process easy, however there is still a big leap to be made, and that is the gene of need finding and creation.
Tools are just tools. It's how we use them that makes the difference.
Despite these complaints, Makers is a quality book for contemplating the future of desktop manufacturing. Anderson's enthusiasm keeps you entertained, while you pick through his book for the quality bits and pieces that might entice you. Anderson certainly name drops the devices and software needed to get started as a hobbyist, and does show some examples of people who were able to turn those hobbies into full-fledged businesses. Anderson's book isn't going to become the Bible of 3D printing by any means, but it's more than enough to get you creatively thinking about desktop manufacturing, and certainly shows you ways to enter into the Maker Movement.
Anderson's examples are all toys, more or less: radio-controlled model airplanes, World War Two weapons for Lego sets, a fish tank for jellyfish, a "Baja racer" (dune buggy?) kit car. His organizational model of enthusiastic customers creating new designs and voluntarily fixing code only works with hobbyists. I work in medical technology; the "maker" ideology doesn't apply. Licensed medical professionals are adamantly opposed to innovations that threaten their income and/or prestige (read: guarded knowledge). I've been trying to get people with speech disorders to volunteer to code speech samples for researchers, using Amazon's Mechanical Turk. This would cut the time and expense of research in half or less, as well as enable people with speech disorders to feel they are "doing something" to advance research in the field. The charitable organizations, professional organizations, and government grant providers oppose this. I could go on with many other examples. Anderson has a chapter about D-I-Y DNA labs, but he says that all they've done is check if sushi bars are passing off cheaper fish for expensive species.
A couple minor complaints: "cool" and "ultimate" are used way too often. Anderson needs a word processor that beeps annoyingly when he types those words. He also uses the phrase "a dog's breakfast" when the correct phrase is "a dog's dinner," meaning an unpleasant-looking mixture of different items. (My dog just finished his dinner of rice, olive oil, doggie nutritional powder, grated cheese, a pork chop, and pizza for dessert. The phrase doesn't apply to all dogs!)
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