If you’re interested in getting a glimpse of what the virtual world of the last ten years is going to do to the real world in the coming ten, spend a couple of evenings with Wired editor Chris Anderson’s new book, Makers. In it, Anderson envisions an open-source manufacturing economy dominated by small — even home-based — makers, all armed with cheap, state-of-the-art tools: desktop 3-D printers, laser cutters and CNC routers.
In this brave new C2B world the garage inventor is king, able to take his products from screen to prototype to market with the help of cheap prototyping, the internet and waiting small-batch manufacturers. Patent rights barely exist, and the only thing protecting margins and market share are social communities and brands. If that sounds far-fetched, just take a look around. It’s already happening and could well be the 3rd wave of the Industrial Revolution.