Vision of the future, sparked by MakersFactory

October 19, 2011

We’re delighted to share this letter from MakersFactory supporter Steve (Steev) Terry:

October 16, 2011
Hey Chris and Dave,

I’m as excited with MF as I’ve ever been about anything in my experience. I was down with the SC Geeks in 2007, then NextSpace, New Tech Meetup, Santa Cruz Center for Design and Innovation, Santa Cruz Next, Envision Santa Cruz, and Tech Raising, and it’s all been inspiring. But in the last few weeks I have the feeling that it’s 1972 and I’ve just met two Steve’s who have some ideas about how to bring IT to the average person. The possibilities of what can emerge from this is overloading my imagination. I really am struggling to keep my feet on the ground! I’m sailing on the possibilities MF has unleashed in my head!

I have some simple products that I hope to prototype, develop, and, yes, manufacture! I love the thought of creating value in my community by bringing into being ideas that can be jobs for makers rather than jobs for workers. Your vision has inspired me and so have the fabulous tools you have introduced at MF.  I feel like I’m 20 again (well, maybe 30)!  I’m seeing a vision of the future, sparked by MF, of people getting up in the morning, going into a room inside their home or within walking distance of it, to spend their day designing and making WHOLE products from their ideas, my ideas, or in collaboration with others. I’m thinking it is now possible for workers to say goodbye to a life of commuting to a factory to spend all day doing repetitive work in a tiny space, working with a tiny piece of a product, feeling a tiny satisfaction for their 8 plus hours (plus the commute), as compared to the satisfaction that they can feel as makers! Workers are parts of a factory.  But, makers ARE factories!  And, what is the comparative value in dollars in the market place between a factory and a worker? Let’s find out!

What a proposition this presents to everyone struggling to find a “job”! Being a maker instead of a worker! Think about it! Can it be possible to be a designer/machinist/factory/vendor, end-to-end, and to receive the value that it represents in both money and satisfaction? An exciting thing to consider. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to put people in Santa Cruz (and in America) to work in their own factories making things for their own community and beyond? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have on-demand distribution, just-in-time delivery, a totally elastic production capacity to meet surges in demand, coupled with lightning-fast development and tooling (actually, no-tooling) for new or improved products? Wouldn’t it be fabulous to design and produce new product designs in a matter of hours and days instead of months and years and for a fraction of the cost to outsource the work? More important, perhaps, is the ability of this approach to tap into the success of fellow makers in a business environment that is inclusive and collaborative instead of exclusive and hostile, where open-source allows the success of one to be the success of all!  What emerges from that is a cauldron of bubbling innovation from which all who contribute to it can draw from it, a resource that can create more useful and exciting goods and services collectively than could be done through the doctrine of zero-sum competition.

It feels to me like a tsunami is coming. When it hits it will wipe out the old closed-source business model where resources and know-how are held in guarded silos, to which only the powerful, being both gatekeeper and user, have access and where the vast wealth generated by everyone in the value chain sits waiting for the Masters of the Universe to decide when to bring us out of the Great Recession. Are we going to wait for “them” to rebuild the American Dream?  Creative destruction visited the dinosaurs and replaced them with smaller, nimbler, smarter creatures that nurtured their young and collaborated to survive. I see the green shoots of a new order from the seeds of bottom-up, open-source, collaborative businesses that are now within the reach of everyone with a good idea and desire to bring it to market. These folks will not need millions of dollars and acres of land to build a factory, but only thousands of dollars and a home mortgage. This new model is built upon inclusive power not exclusive power. This new way to design, make, and distribute might put Ford’s assembly line alongside the fossils of the dinosaurs in the museum before I die. Who knows?

I’m grateful to be here, even at 65, to witness manufacturing and business emerge out of the bog called the Great Recession and to breathe its first breaths on its own with the mid-wife of places like MF. Imagination and collaboration can exist and flourish alongside our current lumbering pluto-nomy that has become too big to succeed. There is a new age of industry coming to replace the Old Ways of the Industrial Behemoth. This tender new thing needs a fitting name for something born in the 21st century. I’ll take a shot and call it the Age of Imaginefacturing (bringing imagination to manufacturing by factoring inclusion and collaboration).

Something else before I sign off. I’d like to start a meet-up for inventors, as an auxiliary to Makers Factory. I mentioned this to Pat last week. I really see it as another facet of what MF is all about. I’d like to talk to you guys about it when you have the time. I’ll need some guidance.

Oh yes, I’ve enrolled in both classes. I do have a problem with the media class because I only have an Android. I’m getting an iPhone as soon as I can, though so I’ll come anyway.

Later guys!
Steev (formerly Steve) Terry
(my dad, a design engineer, thought machinists were closer to God than the apostles. I feel him smiling!)

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