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The DIY Industrial Revolution

January 21, 2010

Local Motor's Rally Fighter: the first "crowdsourced" car

It’s not online yet, but in the new issue of Wired, Chris Anderson dilates upon the coming era of mass customization. In a phrase, “Atoms are the new bits.” By combining open source design, rapid-fire 3D printing, and online marketplaces, the era promises to deliver one-of-a-kind user generated goods. And we’re not just talking trinkets. We’re talking about cars like the one above, made by Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. The nut:

Transformative change happens when industries democratize, when they’re ripped from the sole domain of companies, governments and other institutions and handed over to regular folks. The Internet democratized publishing, broadcasting, and communications, and the consequence was a massive increase in the range of both participation and participants in everything digital–the long tail of bits.

Now the same is happening to manufacturing–the long tail of things.

Or, hardware is the new software. More than anything else, I’m interested in what this trend implies: decentralization of power. Today cars, tomorrow state governments. If innovative companies like Local Motors hollow out dinosaurs like General Motors, and the public sees the good in this, then it’s not that difficult to imagine the same spirit spreading to politics. We’ll just have to see.
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