I’m a big fan of media theorist Douglas Rushkoff. He predicts the future by looking at the past, pretty far back, to a time before centralized currency. Above is a great interview with lots of gems about a shift towards decentralized currency and manufacturing. This argument is relevant to making better stuff because the global supply chains we work with now are broken. And every time we buy the outputs of that broken system, we vote for keeping it in place. But Rushkoff sounds hopeful that a shift toward something better will occur:
“I think the home field advantage for humans is the local reality; this return to local, whether it’s community supported agriculture and local sourcing and local employment, isn’t just a style. It’s not just some northeast cultural creative, San Francisco, Birkenstock trend.
“There’s a deeper social need being filled here, and part of that is the sense that we can’t depend on banks to lend money to factories and corporations to hire people to give you a job. This long supply chain of employment is not stable, and it doesn’t create security.
“But people in communities are beginning to recognize that there’s a whole lot of economics that they can do with one another, and maintain what I’m calling the home field advantage of a local economy.”
And here’s a gem on 3D printing:
“3D printing is a taste of things to come. It may be a baby, baby taste. It may be to local decentralized manufacturing what the typewriter is to the Internet because right now we’re talking mostly about plastic and metal, and where do you get the plastic, and how does it work? But it helps people envision decentralized manufacturing and production.
“It will end up going one of two ways. Either people are going to get a free 3D printer from Jeff Bezos — he’s going to stick it in your garage and you’re going to be able to use it as long as you’re buying your plans and printouts from Amazon — or it’s going to be some kind of MakerBot, open source thing that will really flip stuff open.
“The real question, though, is what ends up going in the printer? It’s the cartridges. What are we using? If it’s some high-cost, bizarre polymer that requires Africans to dig it out of a slave cave and then ship it over here, then you don’t really change anything.”