Book Review: Makers - The New Industrial Revolution

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A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu.

Makers: The New Industrial RevolutionBy: Chris AndersonCopyright: 2012 Crown Business Division of Random HousePrice: $26.00 hardcover/ $12.99 Kindle edition

This is the most important book you will read this year. It outlines how just through innovation and new product development the world is about to change. It’s pretty common knowledge that innovation, especially in this country, is the key to our recovery and automation is the key to new product introduction.

Automation is here to stay--it’s the only way that large-scale manufacturing can work in rich countries. But what can change is the role of smaller companies. Just as start-ups are the driver of innovation in the technology world and the underground is the driver of new culture, so, too, can the energy and creativity of entrepreneurs and individual innovators reinvent manufacturing and create jobs along the way…The great opportunity in the new Maker Movement is the ability to be both local and global. Both artisanal and innovative. Both high tech and low-cost. Starting small and growing big, and most of all creating the sort of products that the world wants bit doesn’t know it yet, because those products don’t fit neatly into the mass economics of the old model.

Anderson spends a great deal of time discussing how new products are developed and built using now-affordable 3D printers. Companies can build new products for innovators and aid them with engineering, design, fabrication, and assembly in the small quantities required for product development. All this leads to mass production when the product finds its footing.

By using companies that offer integrated solutions, an innovator simply needs a good idea, a credit card, and a computer to see his product go from concept to reality in just a matter of days. It is not overly dramatic to say that a person can invent something on Monday and have FedEx deliver the prototype to his front door on Friday. If that isn’t a miracle of our times, I’m not sure what is.

The use of common design file standards that allow anyone, if they desire, to send their designs to commercial manufacturing services to be produced in any number, just as easily as they can fabricate them on their desktop. This radically foreshortens the path from idea to entrepreneurship as the Web did in software, information, and content.

And there is optimism with Anderson talking about how “real countries build things” and how that is the true backbone of our American culture.But we have to be ready for change. In the future we'll see many more companies building specialty products capable of changing the world.

The days of companies with names like “General Electric,” “General Mills,” and “General Motors” are over. The money on the table is like Krill: A billion little entrepreneurial opportunities that can be exploited by smart, creative people.

I have read this book twice already and I think it’s because I like the message so much. I love the optimism, the idea that creative people can get their ideas to market as quickly and cheaply as possible with as few barriers as possible.

No more dealing with rigid gatekeepers putting up barriers to keep people out. In publishing, for example, the days of the arrogant editor with his pile of manuscripts from anxious would-be authors is over. Now it’s, “To hell with that editor, I’ll publish it myself!” A number of bestsellers can now be found via electronic self-publishing. I love that idea.

In terms of new product development and people with great ideas being able to get those ideas to market as quickly and simply as possible, there has never been a better time.

On the product-development side, the Maker Movement tilts the balance toward cultures with the best innovation model, not the cheapest labor. Societies that have embraced “co-creation,” or community-based development, win. They are unbeatable for finding and harnessing the best talent and more motivated people in any domain. Look for those countries where the most vibrant Web communities flourish and the most innovative Web companies grow. Those are the values the predict success in any twenty-first century market.

If you are feeling bad about where we are today and want to feel better, read this book. If you are worried about the election and where this country is going, read this book. I you want to learn more about how you can go about getting your ideas developed and to market, read this book. The author even provides step-by-step directions on how to develop your 21st century workshop.

This is the most important book you will read this year and, from the buzz it's creating, I believe it will become a cornerstone book for our generation.


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