The maker movement is shaping up to be more disruptive than the Internet and Computer revolution was. This is simply amazing. And I’m excited about this for a variety of reasons. Much like the Internet and Computer revolution, we are seeing the major innovation happening in garages and community spaces across America (and abroad). This is great because it will help de-concentrate the wealth that has amassed in a few tech hot spots (i.e. Silicon Valley). I think this is always a good thing for innovation, social good, and business reasons.
But what I’m even more excited about is to witness what industries will be disrupted by this movement. The Internet and Computer revolution caught many industries off guard, but truly destroyed or dramatically altered many of them. The music industry, journalism, banking, retail, just to name a few, we’re all caught off guard, but have been forever change. We are just beginning to see how the maker movement will change industry, but with one important twist.
The Internet and Computer revolution were all about improving productivity, efficiency and concentrating and centralizing wealth, power and control. I know some may argue that this is not true, but it is really hard to find examples in which that has not been the ultimate case. For example, blogging has been concentrated and centralized into two or three main providers (WordPress which I use, Blogger and maybe Tumblr). What is often forgotten when talking about blogging, is that it can be traced back to the Zine movement, and is just an extension of that movement. However, now only two companies control and profit from blogs.
The maker movement, on the other hand, is not yet controlled by a few companies. Moreover, it will be really hard to centralize the niche production occurring through the maker movement. It seems that the next industry that will be heavily disrupted will be the makeup and cosmetics industry. In a recent video I watched someone demonstrate a 3D printing demonstration, but what she was making was niche makeup. For $300 you can buy a printer that will let you create any makeup color you want. This is simply amazing to me. Companies that charge huge sums of money for unique colors will find themselves quickly out of business.
Yes, I know that many people take issue with 3D printers. How many plastic trinkets does one person need? When a new technology comes out, we often are unsure how to use it and how it will fit within our broader world. Just because millions of people Xeroxed their hand, butt, face or whatever didn’t mean that Xerox machines were not an important invention. The same is true of 3D printers. We may not be able to see the trees through the forest right now, but sure enough, many companies and industries are going to run smack dab into the middle of those trees.
What industry do you think will be revolutionized next?