Saturday, January 12, 2013

The diffusion of the Maker Movement and how anyone can get involved

While getting back into the social media swing of things, I've noticed a bit of talk around about the Maker Movement. The Maker Movement is a typical culmination of technology diffusion. Actually that is wrong! It is really evolving rather than culminating because we cannot be 100% certain of the path the technology will take from here.

Nevertheless, the Maker Movement has sprung from additive manufacturing technology, which in turn sprang from the rapid prototyping technology that was used by larger companies to test parts and new product concepts. Additive manufacturing is a technology similar to stereolithography (SLA) as introduced to Australia by our company QMI Solutions in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The interesting thing here is the rate of innovation diffusion and the technology adoption cycle. Dr Tim Kastelle has a great blog post on What Makes Innovation Diffusion Difficult. But the Maker Movement, while new in name, has been under development for at least 20 years and it is really only because the technology has been proven, has increased uptake, has consumer-friendly platforms that it is now becoming a movement that is accessible and affordable.

Late last year, Editor of Wired magazine Chris Anderson left this position to write a book on the Maker Movement subject Makers: The Third Industrial Revolution but also to run his own company 3D Robotics. The third industrial revolution was the subject of a previous post. In this interview with Tech Crunch, he says "hardware is the new software" and evidences the power of the Maker Movement when the CAD file of an IPhone case was open sourced - taking customisation to a new stratosphere it allowed customers to put "their own DNA" into the design process of the finished product.

His story about how he got involved in the Maker Movement via LEGO is great too.

And while it's great to see a new movement in manufacturing the best thing about the Maker Movement is that anyone can be involved.

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