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Makers: The New Industrial Revolution Hardcover – October 2, 2012
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"A thrilling manifesto, a call to arms to quit your day job, pick up your tools, and change the future of manufacturing and business forever.” –BoingBoing
"Chris Anderson has been called many things: a visionary, a pioneer of the Internet economy, a proselytizer of DIY 2.0. But it's probably more apt to think of him as a weather vane: He might not control the winds of change, but he's often the first to see which way they're blowing." -Foreign Policy
"Chris understands that the owners of the means of production get to decide what is produced. And now you're the owner. This book will change your life, whether you read it or not, so I suggest you get in early." –Seth Godin, bestselling author of Tribes and Purple Cow
“A visionary preview of the next technological revolution. If you want to know where the future is headed, start here.” –Tom Rath, author of StrengthsFinder 2.0
“Makers is must read for understanding the transformative changes that are shaping, and will shape, the future of inventing.” –Dan Ariely, author of Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality
"Inspiring and engaging. Anderson delivers a compelling blueprint of a future where America can lead in making things again." –Elon Musk, co-fouder of Tesla Motors and CEO of SpaceX
“In Makers, Chris Anderson gives us a fascinating glimpse of a hands-on future, a future where ‘if you can imagine it, you can build it.’” –Dan Heath, co-author of Switch and Made to Stick
“For those who have marveled at the way software has helped disrupt industry after industry - buckle up, that wave is coming soon to an industry near you. Chris Anderson has written a compelling and important book about how technology is about to completely shake up how America makes things. Required reading for entrepreneurs, policy makers, and leaders who want to survive and thrive in this brave new world.” –Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup
"The Maker movement powered by desktop manufacturing will revolutionize the global economy. Chris Anderson once again reinvents the future in "Makers": a big vision driven by down-to-earth and practical ideas. A must read for anyone who wants to see the leading edge of change." –Peter Schwartz, Co-founder of Global Business Network and author of The Art of the Long View
About the Author
CHRIS ANDERSON is the CEO and co-founder of 3D Robotics, a fast-growing manufacturer of aerial robots, and DIY Drones. He was the editor in chief of Wired until 2012, during which, he led the magazine to multiple National Magazine Award nominations, as well as winning the prestigious top prize for General Excellence in 2005, 2007, and 2009. In 2009, the magazine was named Magazine of the Decade by the editors of AdWeek. Anderson is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Long Tail and Free: The Future of a Radical Price. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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The author then goes on to discuss the business model that can best be used, in his opinion, to bring to market an idea that requires manufacturing and/ electronic components and know-how. That model is the “open source” model. The author describes the many benefits of this model. This includes (not all inclusively) free labor and ideas provided by potential or actual users, the creation of “word of mouth” marketing, testing the size of the market to see if it is large enough to justify entry, etc. All of this is interesting. However, there are problems with that the open source model has that the author leaves unsaid. I do not know if this is willful or whether he just believes that some of these potential problems are not at all significant. A major one is that the use of volunteers, as opposed to employees, insures that people are supplying the needed know how throughout the entire product development and manufacturing phase. After all, employees need to work to be paid. Volunteers, on the other hand, can just leave or stop in an instant. In many cases without a seconds notice. Anyone who has worked in volunteer organizations knows this. In the author’s model this is even more of a problem as the volunteers are linked via the internet and do not even know each other. This puts a significant dent on projects that have development phases that are more than very short periods of time. A big problem, even if the author does not mention it.
The author also discusses financing. He again emphasizes internet based “open source” as opposed to more traditional “angel” investors (whose use would imply capital dilution) or bank financing that would require capital being tied up as collateral and interest payments. However, the author does not point out how difficult it is to use Kickstarter and similar internet sources to raise capital. They are not the panacea he makes them out to be.
The author then provides 3 case studies that show how effectively the open source manufacturing and financing model can be used to help start up entrepreneurs. All show how successful the model has been. Unfortunately no statistics are provided regarding the percentage of entrepreneurs for which this road has been successful (as opposed to failing them or the use of more traditional methods such as partnering with large companies or “angel” investors).
In short, the book has plenty of weaknesses. However, it also has plenty of strengths, especially in regard to small entrepreneurs interested in bringing their idea to market. For this reason alone it is worth reading by such people or even by those with just a passing curiosity.
Learning more about rapid prototyping tools, and how people have taken advantage of them was enlightening. The analogy of "the long tail of things" (i.e. atoms) following in the footsteps of the long tail of digital goods (i.e. bits) was a very interesting way of examining the rising maker movement. To use a personal example, it certainly left me feeling there is no excuse for me to not try to get a prototype made for an idea I have for a new kind of iPhone case (the innovation I have in mind is more practical than aesthetic). This book has given me a clear path as to how I could go about doing so even with my limited savings.
The only real criticism I have is that at times the book felt rushed/redundant. What a CNC machine is and how it works was repeated at least three times. While this may have been on purpose I imagine it is something that will be fixed in future editions. Kind of funny to have such a "macro level" error to be in a book written by the former editor of a magazine esteemed as Wired is.