Tag Archives: #makers12

The economics of the makers revolution: a primer

I started out as an industrial organization kind of economist, so it feels refreshing to delve into the major organizational tectonic shift implied by the Makers revolution. The video above (9 minutes, in Italian) is my talk at the World Wide Rome conference. The main concept is that of permissive technology; legally and technically hackable technologies are what enable mass innovation, in turn fueling the makers revolution around manufacturing. Contributions in English around this topic:

  • The economics of Cory Doctorow’s Makers. This is an economic analysis of the eponymous Doctorow novel, which makes way more sense than you would expect from a work of fiction (but then again, let’s keep in mind that Doctorow is co-founder of Boing Boing. Doctorow himself has read my essay and not gone for my throat (he actually thanked me), so I guess he does not disagree with me too much;
  • Schumpeter’s curse. This post does not directly speak about manufacturing or makers, but it does make a key point of my talk: creative destruction is not an equilibrium model, and the body count of the makers revolution will likely be high.

My talk was very well received by the predominantly corporate and institutional crowd (hell, corporates and Rome’s Chamber of Commerce cheerfully sponsored the conference). This is telling: a lot of people are so enmeshed in the current innovation ideology that they manage to unsee the “revolution” in the Makers revolution. I am with Doctorow on this one: there will be conflict, the main battlefield will be IPRs, and the bad guys might well win. But then, revolution is no gala dinner, right?