As the longtime editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, the author of The Long Tail, the proponent of the concept of “freemium,” to name just a few of the things that he’s known for, Chris Anderson is well-renowned for having his finger on the pulse of trends just as they’re starting to coalesce into movements.
So, inquiring minds want to know: What is he obsessed with right now?
The answer is “maker subculture,” which is where the latest in digital technology meets the classic do-it-yourself (DIY) world of crafting and small scale construction. Anderson is so engrossed in this world that he decided to write his latest book about it. Makers: The New Industrial Revolution, which hit shelves (and the world of e-books and e-booksellers) last week, makes the argument that what’s happening right now with makers is actually the third wave of the industrial revolution which first initiated back in the 18th century.
There are a lot of big ideas at work here, so it was a real pleasure to have Chris Anderson stop by TechCrunch to talk to us all about it in person. The whole video above is very worth watching, in my opinion — Anderson’s thoughts are so interesting and complete that it’s hard to pick out the most relevant excerpts of what he said (and you should definitely buy the book to get more of them, because it is a very good read). But below I’ve transcribed just a bit of our chat:
On why accessibility is the secret ingredient for “revolutions” — especially when it comes to technology and manufacturing:
“The real revolution here is not in the creation of the technology, but the democratization of the technology. It’s when you basically give it to a huge expanded group of people who come up with new applications, and you harness the ideas and the creativity and the energy of everybody. That’s what really makes a revolution.
…What we’re seeing here with the third industrial revolution is the combination of the two [technology and manufacturing]. It’s the computer meets manufacturing, and it’s at everybody’s desktop.”
On how makers are perfecting the bridge between the long tail and the mass market:
“What we’re clearly doing is enabling a new class of entrepreneurial companies that can address markets of 10k. YOu know, 10 thousand is kind of an arbitrary number, but when you think of 10,000, it’s too small for a big company and too [large] for an individual. And yet, what the maker market does it allows you to prototype things, get funding, and then have access to manufacturing that can sort of scale up. It allows you to target to those markets of 10,000.
Now, some of those markets of 10,000 are going to stay at 10,000, they are niche, the ‘long tail’ stuff if you will, referring to my first book. But some of them are going to be the next markets of 10 million. And what’s great about the markets that start at 10,000 and then kind of organically make it to 10 million is that those products are going to be ones the world has asked for, that the world has helped develop. They’ve passed the test of the marketplace.”
There’s a lot more where that comes from, so please watch the video above to hear Anderson talk about:
- How manufacturing more things through the Maker movement can actually slow the expansion of junk in landfills (that starts at around 8:41)
- The new expression that “hardware is the new software” (that starts at around 12:18)
- Why he thinks we’re at “the Macintosh moment” for 3D printers, a device which he thinks should be in every home in the foreseeable future (a concept he weaves throughout our chat with which not everyone agrees)
- How he personally keeps his projects straight while maintaining his family life (5 kids!)