A "Fab Lab" In Every Home--Are We Returning To A Democratic Age of Craft And Creativity?

Bruce Nussbaum

Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams who wrote the hot book http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/mar2007/id20070320_687998.htm?chan=innovation_innovation+%2B+design_wikinomicsWikinomics are doing a series of essays for our Innovation & Design site and the latest column is all about mass collaboration in design and manufacturing. Turns out that most of the motorcycle industry in China involves a collaborative effort by suppliers. Turns out the most of Boeing's new 787 jetline is done by peer production or mass collaboration.

On a small scale, MIT has developed a small-scale "fab lab" that has just about any tool to make just about anything. A fab lab in every home is my motto. We already design our music and telephony experiences with "tools" provided by Apple, cell phone, pda and telephone carries. With fab labs, we could start making the stuff we design. Talk about a revolution in creativity and individuality.

We may be on the verge of one of the most creative periods in history. In a way, it is a return to craft. When tools and clothes and houses were all designed and made singly and individually, they were uniquely special. Mass production and the industrial age ended much of that.

Now, thanks to web 2.0 and other technologies such as fab labs, we may be returning to an era of craft as we begin to do our own designing and manufacturing again. Companies who provide us with the tools to create and participate WITH us in making them are going to make a lot of dough in the future.