Makers: The New Industrial Revolution by Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson’s Bio:

He is the Editor in Chief of Wired, co-founder of 3D Robotics, a fast-growing manufacturer of aerial robots, and DIY Drones, as well as founder of GeekDad – a DIY blog. Anderson is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Long Tail and Free: The Future of a Radical Price. He began his career writing for Nature and Science after schooling in quantum mechanics and science journalism, then wrote for The Economist before taking over at Wired.

Credit Joi Ito

Credit Joi Ito

Chris Anderson tweets @chr1sa

Anderson’s makings:

Summary (of first half):

A new industrial revolution is underway, a desktop manufacturing revolution (not just the computer, but the networked Web), that is changing the availability of the tools of production. Today’s entrepreneurs are DIY designers and makers, using micro-manufacturing techniques and open source community support (sharing and research/development), to create customiz(ed)/(able) goods.

Overview (of first half):

The Invention Revolution:

  • “It used to be hard to be an entrepreneur” (7): inventor | entrepreneur
  • The beauty of the Web is that it democratized the tools both of invention and production (7): inventor-entrepreneuer
  • Maker Movement (9)
  • “making in public” (13): sharing of ideas turn into bigger ideas; projects become the seeds of products, movements, and even industries (13)
  • “Computers amplify human potential: they not only give power to create but can also spread their ideas quickly, creating communities, markets, even movements” (14)
  • “factory” is changing (14)
  • the new Maker Movement is both small and global (16) – the great opportunity

The New Industrial Revolution:

  • “making things has gone digital: physical objects now begin as designs on screens, and those designs can be shared online as files. This has been happening over the past few decades in factories and industrial design shops, but now it’s happening on consumer desktops ad in basements, too” (17)
  • makerspaces (18-19): not a new generation of blue-collar workers in the return of the school workshop class, but creating new generation of systems designers and production innovators

Maker Movement (21):

1. people using digital desktop tools to create designs for new products and protoype them

2. a cultural norm to share those designs and collaborate with others in online communities

3. the use of common design file standards that allow anyone, if they desire, to send their designs to commercial manufacturing services to be produced just as easily as can be fabricated on the desktop

  • “the process of making physical stuff has started to look more like the process of making digital stuff” (25)
  • from top-down to bottom-up (and this is dispersed among professionals, amateurs, and entrepreneurs) (32)

The History of the Future:

  • defining an industrial revolution (36-37): imagining factories beyond “dark satanic mills” (qtd. William Blake)
  • increase in number of inventions and the process of invention itself
  • a set of technologies that dramatically amplify the productivity of people (38)
  • the third industrial revolution: the invention of digital computing is not enough by itself…only when computers were combined with networks, and ultimately the network of all networks, the Internet, did they really start to transform our culture” (40)
  • significance of amateurs, semipros, and people who don’t work for big media or technology companies (41)
  • Fab Labs: “It’s about the ability for individuals to make—and, more importantly, modify—anything” (Haydn Insley 46)
  • the new Maker Movement can occur anywhere: place matters less (47)

We Are All Designers Now:

  • “As desktop fabrication schools go mainstream, it’s time to return “making things” to the high school curriculum, not as the shop class of the old, but in the form of teaching design” (55)
  • desktop (56-58): the biggest computing facilities used to work for the government, research labs, and big companies; today they work for us
  • “We are all designers now. It’s time we get good at it.” (59)

The Long Tail of Things:

  • the power of democratization puts the tools in the hands of those who know best how to use them: power to meet needs, modify with ideas, and collectively find full range of what can be done (63)
  • micro, niche markets unclogged distribution bottlenecks: products that had to be popular enough to manufacture, for retailers to carry, and for us to find (64)
  • shift in consumption of amateur content instead of professional content (66)
  • “What does artisanal mean in a digital world?” (71): variability can now become part of an automated design and production chain (qting. Mario Carpo)
  • physical products created digitally: products are being treated as information (72-73)
  • “Everything is an algorithm now”: what’s important is the easy modification of files – not just the sharing (74-75)
  • “small batch”: implies handcrafted care focused on quality of product not size of the market (78)

The Tools of Transformation:

  • “3-D printers are heading for the alchemist’s dream: making anything” (81)
  • 3-D printing favors individualization and customization, the reverse of mass production, which favors repetition and standardization (87)
  • “open source”: open everything – electronics, software, design, documentation, even the logo (94)
  • next step: duplicating not just form, but function (98)

Open Hardware:

  • patent: intended to encourage inventor to share invention publicly so that others could learn from it (108)
  • open source product advantage: community


  • Is there a connection between Anderson’s new industrial revolution, the Maker Movement, and the carpentry proposed by Bogost and advanced by Rivers and Brown as rhetorical carpentry? Does the new workshop classroom help us envision making in R/C?
  • Does Anderson’s account of manufacturing change the way industrialization is viewed in relation to craft? (Not as demise, but as innovation) Or is there a difference between craft/craftsman and make/maker?
  • What is the relationship between human and machine?

Selection of projects/communities mentioned in the first half of Makers:



Instructables: a DIY community

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