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

Salt Market: A Journeywoman’s Travels

Two weekends back, Nick and I went to the Salt Market to check out the crafted goods for sale and to support local artisans. I thought it would be more of a window shopping sort of trip, but we ended up with a nice haul


(not pictured: a fox leather pouch I took back to the artisan because the riveted eye was not lined up on either side of the leather – which started pushing up the leather around it. She fixed the eye though and mailed it to me a few days later: awesome. Her shop is at Lilipad Creations.)

Aside from the fox pouch and the wood ring from The Knotty Owl, everything we purchased was hand screen printed. Stock of screen printed goods:

Nick’s octopus shirt from Blackbird and Peacock

My bat shirt from Silk Oak

The Salt City print from [re]Think Syracuse

The sea creature print and plush from Isaac Bidwell

My handbound book with screen printed cover from Amaranth Press & Bindery

And other things I wish I purchased, particularly from The Black Arts Studio, was screen printed. It’s not just that these goods are wonderful, because they are, but I found an appreciation for the skill and knowledge demonstrated in the goods. I felt like I was roaming form master craftsperson to master craftsperson to study their techniques for my own printing. The space for the market, bazaar like, was small and full of people, so I didn’t get to linger as long as I would have liked to. I wanted to ask each of the printers (and there were more than are represented here) what materials they use to print, what their workspace is set up like, the techniques the use to achieve their quality prints, what their process looked (and felt) like. But I didn’t. Maybe they would have been open to talking, or maybe they would have been protective of their mysteries. I left feeling like my prints were of the caliber of gifts you give to your mom because she’s obligated to love them: thoughtful, and representative of love and care, but craft in a connotation of children’s arts and crafts as hobby. I realized though, that these prints weren’t made from the drawing fluid method I have been trying (and failing) with, but the photo emulsion method. The photo emulsion method essentially burns an image (from a photograph or something that can be designed in programs) on to the screen to print, which allows for fine detail.

Photo emulsion, as compared to the hand drawing fluid method I’m using, is like printing an image of Frankenstein’s monster from a vintage movie poster versus me hand sketching my rendition of the monster – they’re not quite comparable. While I might improve my techniques for making prints using the drawing fluid method, I am still limited to my ability to draw – a separate craft. I thought it odd that I hadn’t thought about this before in my printing: I am the designer and the craftswoman.

scanning: screen printing

For Techne to DIY: Rhetorics of Craft with Krista Kennedy, we get to undertake a craft project of our own choosing throughout the course. After some mind wandering that turned into wandering the aisles of The Art Store on the walk home, I decided on screen printing. I’ve been wanting to learn to screen print for a few years now to mod odds and ends; it appeals to my punk state of mind, my propensity for found object possibilities, and my desire to get my hands dirty.

I’ve never screen printed before, aside from really basic letter stenciling to label items, which makes me a novice; for those instances, I used form letter stencils and spray paint – not very sophisticated. I’m interested in learning how to screen print on paper and fabric and the techniques associated with the different mediums. I’m also curious to discover different results based on choice of ink, fabric, and paper, and playing with layering. As far as what I will create, I’m not sure, as I can see any number of possibilities – gifts for people’s birthdays, signs for the TA offices, posters for program events, postcards to send to family, custom t-shirts, and whatever other visual inspiration strikes. Perhaps a better goal is to create one print per week, or to fill a jar with ideas and draw different inspirations for each composition. To determine what I would need to get started, I collected some resources:

Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing by Mike Perry

Pulled: A Catalog of Screen Printing by Mike Perry

This book went from my Amazon wishlist to my shopping cart before in the span of one sip of coffee…

DIY Printshop starter kit:

a list of what was deemed essential for a beginner DIY kit (from their own kit inventories)

  • 16×16 press
  • wood screen w/ mesh (different grades for different detail – this one comes with 156)
  • 500 Watt halogen exposure light
  • light mounting fixture
  • 11″  70 durometer squegee
  • 12″ emulsion scoop coater
  • photo emulsion
  • yellow bulb (for darkroom)
  • printing ink
  • screen degreaser
  • emulsion remover
  • pallet adhesive
  • scrub pads
  • silicone parchment paper for curing ink
  • film positives
  • french paper (for paper-based creations)

While these kits are cool in that they contain everything to get started, I think that I can assemble my own to save on cash, perhaps even building some of the more expensive pieces – like the screen. This lead to a search for DIY approaches using improvised equipment.

DIY Nylon Screen Print from Calico Skies:

This handy tutorial uses pantyhose and an embroidery hoop, which appealed to my desire for more control over my tools/cost. Instead of using emulsion, it utilizes ModgePodge to create negative space in the design (where color isn’t desired). It looks like a befitting approach for relatively simple and small designs (those that fit within an embroidery hoop).

P is for Printing from Fabric Paper Glue:

Really nice tutorial that walked through two different methods of DIY screen printing. It provided really useful information on the four methods (described in detail here):

  • the paper stencil method
  • the screen filler method
  • the drawing fluid-screen filler method
  • the photographic emulsion method

From reading, I decided I wanted to experiment first with the screen filler and drawing fluid-screen methods, and perhaps try building some of my own screens from picture frames I can pick up cheap. I will need:

  • a mesh screen (still determining number values and their uses) and frame (detachable) – several sizes
  • a squeegee
  • drawing fluid
  • screen filler
  • various ink colors
  • acrylic extender base (for transparent color)
  • clothes iron and parchment paper for setting fabrics
  • cleaner (washing soda and water)


Browsing elicited a ‘kid in the candy store’ effect. I think the difficult thing to do will be to keep my design ideas within a budget (I’m not an art class studio, as much as I want the fitting materials). I think I would like to keep my materials local as found/salvaged, custom made, or from the local art supply store in my neighborhood.

End result? Hopefully things like this (and other things too):

"In The Summer, I’m Dreaming Of You" by Mark Warren Jacques

“In The Summer, I’m Dreaming Of You” by Mark Warren Jacques