The advent of do-it-yourself software and especially 3D printing could remake American Manufacturing and small business.
Suddenly, machines and software with vast capacity can be acquired by individuals or very small companies.
Everyone is having visions of independent living or at least becoming an entrepreneur. But what exactly is the model for getting this to actually work economically?
So I picked up Chris Anderson's The Makers: The New Industrial Revolution looking for answers.
(Earlier review of his Long Tail here)
The upshot is no one quite knows although anecdotal evidence suggests that it will lead to possibly a host of new smaller companies specializing in niche products (the reduced cost of production and sunk costs renders this possible). Anderson gives some examples of these in the book: a company that makes products for Lego that Lego won't make itself, and an aerospace firm.
And while the heroic individual alone with his 3-D printer probably can't happen, some people do envision creating self-sustained communities or more local economies.
It's exciting to imagine a world continuing to evolve beyond mass production where very specific needs can be envisioned and manufactured.
This also might help solve the stubborn high unemployment problem
All in all, a good introduction to a very important topic.