This is an initial note on something I have been thinking about for a while, and which I am now writing on: “Objects 2.0” and the “crowd manufacturing cycle”.
3D printing, and the cycle of iterative remixing of physical design that will come with it, are going to dramatically disrupt manufacturing. It promises adjustment challenges to physical industry that have hitherto been largely confined to the music and movie industry. At the same time it will dramatically accelerate innovation.
The next Web will not only be physical, it will be crowd engineered. Cheaper 3D printing (in the home or on demand) will mean that physical objects and devices will be available for download as 3D CAD files from a new digital (e.g. App store type) market, and will be fabricated at home. These physical objects will increasingly be ‘smart objects’ (networked, equipped with sensors), exchanging data and providing information services. Because the shared data about the performance and context of objects can be used to perfect later iterations, and since CAD files can be modified by anyone, physical objects and devices will be subject to crowd innovation. Objects will be remixed as culture is today. This world in which objects are bought/taken as digital files, fabricated at home, share data, and are remixed by the crowd is the world of “Objects 2.0”.
The result will be a wave of crowd sourced innovation, allowing for a crowd manufacturing cycle in which designs are continuously improved by consumers. It will allow for a long tail to emerge in the market for physical items, and will also create opportunities for new intermediary businesses along the lines of iTunes/App Store, where CAD files will be traded. On the downside, Objects 2.0 will dramatically upset manufacturing industries, and will raise a host of legal issues including licensing and counterfeiting, the fabrication of illegal goods (fire arms/narcotics), and the scope of fair use.
Objects 2.0 may represent the biggest change in consumer technology in decades.