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Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

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Wired magazine editor and bestselling author Chris Anderson takes you to the front lines of a new industrial revolution as today’s entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, bring manufacturing to the desktop.  In an age of custom-fabricated, do-it-yourself product design and creation, the collective potential of a million garage tinkerers and enthusiasts is about to be unleashed, driving a resurgence of American manufacturing.  A generation of “Makers” using the Web’s innovation model will help drive the next big wave in the global economy, as the new technologies of digital design and rapid prototyping gives everyone the power to invent -- creating “the long tail of things”.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Chris Anderson

247 books712 followers
Chris Anderson was named in April 2007 to the "Time 100," the newsmagazine's list of the 100 men and women whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world. He is Editor-in-Chief of Wired magazine, a position he took in 2001, and he has led the magazine to six National Magazine Award nominations, winning the prestigious top prize for General Excellence in 2005 and 2007. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller The Long Tail, which is based on an influential 2004 article published in Wired, and runs a blog on the subject at www.thelongtail.com. Previously, he was at The Economist, where he served as US Business Editor, Asia Business Editor; and Technology Editor. He started The Economist's Internet coverage in 1994 and directed its initial web strategy. Anderson's media career began at the two premier science journals, Nature and Science, where he served in several editorial capacities. Prior to that he was a physics researcher at the Los Alamos National Lab."

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 325 reviews
Profile Image for Meg.
417 reviews178 followers
September 6, 2012
Reads like a poorly written magazine article that has been unfortunately dragged out into a full-length book. All hype and no substance (how many different ways can he really say, "production has gone digital"?)
I'll be honest and admit I didn't read the whole thing - I set it down halfway through. Was going to read all of it before panning it like this, but decided it wasn't worth the time. Anderson's lack of understanding of the economists he tries to draw on to make his points just became too frustrating for me. For instance, he says "The people now control the means of production." Which isn't true in most of the examples he's talking about - when you ship your designs off to a factory owned by someone else to have them make your invention, then you control the means of design, not the means of production - but beyond that, he actually contradicts himself almost immediately: quoting Eric Reis, he says, "It's not about ownership of the means of production, anymore. It's about rentership of the means of production."
It's sad, because I think there's a kernel of truth in some of what he's saying. But this is really just mock-populist, upper middle class pandering to people who spend too much time on some combination of Etsy, boingboing, and... well I guess, probably on reading Wired.
Profile Image for Tac Anderson.
Author 2 books89 followers
December 26, 2012
This is an important book. Maker's is basically a sequel to The Longtail. It's a deep look at what happens to the manufacturing (mostly in America) when physical manufacturing behaves like the digital world. If this book doesn't make you want to go out and buy a 3D printer or start putting together OpenHardware robots, I don't know what will.
Profile Image for Kislay Verma.
93 reviews13 followers
October 26, 2012
From SolomonSays:

Makers should be read as an extension of Anderson’s idea of “the long tail”. In specific, he is building on the first condition for a long tail to exist. i.e. democratization of the tools of production which enables everyone to become a producer.The idea is that today there are far more and cheaper options for design, manufacture, and funding if you want go into the manufacturing business.As such, all these ideas have been discussed at length in The Long Tail, but here the focus is more on production of real world items, “atoms” rather than “bits”. But while the former unveils a radical new way of analysing consumer behaviour, this book is only a collection of case-studies and reinforcements of a particular paradigm.

I found Anderson’s discussion of online communities far more powerful. In the wired world, dedicated followers on the internet are the biggest asset any business can have. Makers explores this world of organized enthusiasts and semi-pros in depth and offers great advice on how to cultivate it for evangelizing your business.

Here, as in The Long Tail, Anderson’s tendency to over-quote a particular example is evident in repeated mentions of Etsy and the 3D printer. The 3D printer may in fact be the next super-empowering technology, but mentioning it on every second page is only annoying. Detailed descriptions of the working of manufacturing equipment also seemed quite besides the point and should have left for reference. Makers also suffers from a US-Silicon Valley focus. Everything is analysed from America’s perspective, while China is set as the nemesis which must be countered. A fairer treatment would include the rest of the world in its scope and consider the possibility that businesses there too could be players in this new industrial revolution.
Profile Image for Mark.
154 reviews18 followers
December 12, 2012
I'm in agreement with a number of other reviewers of this book that it was repetitive and basically read like a drawn out magazine article. But as with Anderson's The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, it was the content (not the presentation) that interested me.

Working in the world of public libraries (which Anderson mentions as the originator of the Long Tail) I was interested to see what he has to say on the Maker front. Several public libraries have put together "Maker Spaces," complete with 3-D printers, 3-D scanners, etc. and I'm trying to figure out if such a venture would make sense for my library. After reading this, I'm leaning towards "yes."

Libraries, while providing many different services, have one core mission: find what is valuable and make it available to our respective communities. If the world of manufacturing is indeed moving from massive buildings to the desktop, then public libraries have a role to play in that transition. I think really exciting things could happen if a Maker community were closely intertwined with the entrepreneurial resources of the public library.
Profile Image for FannyH.
19 reviews1 follower
June 5, 2021
J'étais très curieuse d'en savoir plus sur le mouvement Makers. La première partie est très intéressante, un historique sur la naissance de la tendance qui part des geeks punks, de sa philosophie Open Source et des changements économiques, sociétaux et industriels que cela pourrait engendrer. Tout cela basé sur des exemples concrets. J'ai bien aimé aussi les explications sur les différentes machines impressions 3D, découpes laser etc.

Mais je suis déçue par la deuxième partie du livre qui est tellement axée business qu'elle s'adresse plus à des personnes qui cherchent à entreprendre dans le milieu. C'est une suite de sucess strory technique sur le modèle de gestion et la chaîne de production, j'ai zappé des passages.

C'est dommage le début du livre laisse entre-voir un beau modèle de société où l'innovation en ligne est bénéfique à tous, pour finalement entretenir le rêve américain du mec qui créer sa boîte dans sa cave et devient riche, toujours plus riche.

Ce qui est drôle c'est que ce livre a été écrit en 2012 pour prédire 2021. On voit qu'on est encore bien loin de ses prédictions, les imprimantes 3D ne sont pas monnaie courante. Il avait raison pour Alibaba, mais bon, il est aujourd'hui très loin d'incarner le mouvement Makers ...
Profile Image for Artur Coelho.
2,253 reviews61 followers
November 15, 2012
Chris Anderson excede-se muito no tom optimista deste Makers. O que começa por ser uma visão abrangente do potencial da impressão em 3D arrasta-se para uma elegia rosada da nova economia onde as fronteiras entre amadores e profissionais se esbatem e pequenas organizações inovadoras conquistam interessantes nichos de mercado. São factos, mas tornam o livro demasiado superficial e centrado num optimismo financeiro e tecnológico. Não ajuda o facto do autor ser criador e investidor em parte das empresas cujo perfil traça.

Anderson tem o dedo naquilo que é o princípio de uma avalanche tecnológica transformativa. A combinação entre comunidades e partilha através da internet, o gosto pela criação técnica e a cada vez maior disponibilidade de materiais e ferramentas de software e hardware com custos em diminuição têm o potencial de revolucionar o conceito clássico de indústria. O modelo tradicional das fábricas e linhas de abastecimento está a ser complementado e desafiado por aqueles que nas suas garagens e ateliers constroem protótipos, criam produtos e desenvolvem tecnologias baseadas em plataformas open source. Num certo sentido, é um retorno às raízes locais de manufactura industrial possibilitada por ferramentas de alta tecnologia.

Uma tecnologia em particular está a destacar-se pelo seu potencial e iminência de abrangência ao grande público. A impressão em 3D saiu dos laboratórios, instalou-se nos ateliers e oficinas e ameaça chegar a todos os utilizadores. Pode parecer prematuro prever uma taxa de penetração destes equipamentos similar à das impressoras hoje, mas a comparação feita por Anderson é convicente. Hoje, uma impressora de documentos é barata e fácil de encontrar, possibilitando a quem o quiser imprimir em papel. Coisa mágica, se pensarmos que não há tanto tempo assim a impressão era domínio de técnicos especializados e maquinaria pesada. A adição da terceira dimensão já está aí e são cad a vez mais os exemplos de utilizadores que pegam nas suas impressoras 3D e software de CAD para usos que vão da impressão de brinquedos para os filhos à impressão de peças mecânicas caras ou raras. O mercado já está a prestar atenção. Sucedem-se os projectos de disponibilização de impressoras 3D a custos cada vez menores (se bem que ainda substanciais) e gigantes do software apostam em versões gratuitas de aplicações e pacotes de CAD a pensar na explosão do mercado de utilizadores pessoais. Nisto a Autodesk destaca-se com aplicações como a 123D ou 123DCatch, que democratizam o processo de modelação 3D e transformação num objecto real.

É intrigante observar esta explosão tecnológica, comparável às vagas iniciais da internet ou da computação pessoal. O fascínio humano pelo objecto físico encontra no virtual uma nova dimensão, e a possibilidade de concretização física do virtual abre novos e intrigantes campos de actuação. Num futuro muito próximo, será possível a qualquer um imprimir peças mecânicas, objectos artísticos, brinquedos, enfim, tudo o que a imaginação e o domínio de ferramentas de CAD e modelação 3D lhe permtir.

(Nota: iniciei as aulas este ano mostrando vídeos sobre tópicos bleeding edge das tic, entre os quais impressão 3D. Agora, os meus alunos começam a perguntar-me se os objectos que estão a aprender a modelar em 3D utilizando aplicações como o Sketchup poderiam ser impressos. Intrigante.)
Profile Image for Kim.
68 reviews3 followers
February 1, 2014
I found this book frustrating for a few reasons. In part one you have to wade through a lot of euphoric optimism about the potential interventions of 3-d printing, CNC machines, and CAD software. While it's an interesting phenomenon, I am concerned with questions of access, even moreso than in other areas of participatory culture that have supposed democratizing potential. Equipment costs may decrease and shared equipment may become more readily available, but doesn't CAD software require specialized knowledge? This will require a different kind of literacy that is, at the moment, confined to fields that are already critiqued for not being diverse. Aside from the literacy issues, the way that this interfaces with consumer culture is a bit of a puzzle to me. Does the world need more stuff? There is artistic and expressive potential, but there is also a huge potential for this to merely shift the contours of consumer culture. An elite group of users printing more junk? Boring...

Part two is less burdened with euphoric rhetoric, but the focus on the revenue generating potential and 3-d printing / laser cutting as a business model was not very interesting to me. There are a few short case studies on successful entrepreneurs using these tools, which were interesting from a historical perspective. I wish the chapter on DIY Biology had been longer as it was probably the most interesting.

I was left with a lot of questions:
What is being done to extend access beyond a privileged group of tinkerers?
What are the environmental impacts of these machines?
Aside from lowering production costs in the U.S., what are the global labor impacts?
Aside from more sharing, what is the relationship to capitalism?

Ultimately, I suspect I was not the audience for this book. I think it is geared toward a more general audience who is already excited about the possibilities of 3-d printing.
Profile Image for donna.
238 reviews31 followers
July 29, 2013
Chris Anderson always connects the dots for me. If you want to know how the maker revolution has the potential to change the not so distant future, read this book. While I feel like I'm only peripherally part of this movement (being a librarian who is exploring the possibilities of libraries being sites for makerspaces) I knew enough about what is going on with the maker movement to have begun thinking about the possibilities. I particularly loved his connection between the DIY punk culture of the 80s and today's maker movement. I'd thought of this myself and was excited when Anderson mentioned it. The idea that anyone can be in a band - just pick up an instrument and learn to play. And the idea that anyone can publish their thoughts, just make a zine with a typewriter and a copy machine. Expand this DIY thinking to so many more possibilities and add the connectedness of the Internet, the crowdfunding of sites like Kickstarter, and the growing availability of 3-D printing and you can see why we have a new industrial revolution on our hands.
Profile Image for Steve.
190 reviews
April 15, 2018
I read this book for the literature review for my dissertation, which is on a topic completely ignored in the maker literature but which would seem relevant, namely, the uptake of "digital fabrication tools" (using Neil Gershenfeld's term) by a variety of small shops and light industry (specifically in this case in boatbuilding). Hence, I am just past halfway reading the quartet of works by leading popular authors on making (Mark Hatch MAKER MANIFESTO, Chris Anderson MAKERS: THE NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, Dale Dougherty FREE TO MAKE [halfway through this now], and Neil Gershenfeld FAB), in addition to a number of other books (popular and academic), academic papers, and some dissertations.

It is interesting to compare this book with both Hatch's and Dougherty's. Both Hatch and Dougherty seek, or claim to seek, a broader understanding of the Maker movement in general. My prior review of Hatch indicates the extent to which I think that Hatch failed in this regard by focusing too narrowly on the set of commercial and entrepreneurial customers at the makerspace chain TechShop that he was CEO of for a time (and which went out of business in late 2017). Anderson likewise primarily and nearly exclusively focuses on those who use making as a way to secure commercial success. Given that the second part of the title of the book is "The New Industrial Revolution", one might argue that a narrower focus is acceptable given Anderson's thesis regarding the link between individual unmediated technological engagement and technological and commercial innovation. This, however, would be wrong.

The problem is that Anderson is trying to eat and have his cake at the same time, in a way. He is trying to say that Makers are central to innovation, but by *only* examining cases of commercial success (or in a number of cases incorrectly forecasting success), he fails to really come to grips with the distinction between those who Anderson lauds - the entrepreneurs - and the far bigger numbers of people who come to making as a sideline or as a leisure or educational activity. By spending little if any time analyzing this broader population - by itself just a small, small subset of the overall population, he cannot really come to grips with this broader phenomenon and therefore how entrepreneurs emerge out of this group.

Frankly, he has no one to blame but himself for this because like Hatch and Dougherty, he starts off by claiming that "Everyone is a Maker" - with a very slender justification for this. (It is interesting how these three men all say this, although I consider myself creative, handy, and skilled with making things, I cannot say I agree with this contention). If Anderson had said at the outset that he wasn't going to examine the Maker Movement as a whole but rather how particular people use it for commercial opportunities, I would have wondered a bit about it, but it would have made his overall argument easier to accept.

Although an academic by training, I am not like many of my colleagues who are profoundly anti-commercial. My parents ran a small business and my maternal grandfather was an entrepreneur. But Anderson's particular way of selling the commercial side of Making was particularly troubling to me precisely because of the way he set up the book. By not carefully parsing out the distinction between the commercial and non-commercial side of Making (which would have meant exploring the latter a little bit), and by playing up the commercial successes ad nauseam, Anderson starts to come off as something of a huckster - promising gold at the end of the rainbow. It goes rather beyond what academics Sabine Hielscher and Adrian Smith have described as "excited claims" (SPRU Working Paper SWPS, 2014-08, May 2014, obtain via Google Scholar) into the realm of hype.

By contrast, Dale Dougherty is much more straightforward in his 2016 book in claming that as with sports, only a portion of the total number of Making participants will be professionals, but the more people that get involved, the greater the quality of those professionals. But Dougherty's account actually examines non-commercial instances and is much more measured overall (see more on Anderson's prose style, below) probably because it was written five years later after the initial waves of hype about digital fabrication and making had died down somewhat.

Anderson and Hatch wrote their books as part of that first wave of accounts when the tendency to overbill the "Maker Revolution" was perhaps more comprehensible, if not justifiable. But I have to wonder how much Anderson's overheated prose contributed to an overselling that resulted in disappointment. A clear case of the dangers of overheated analysis comes on pp. 169-170 with the discussion of the Pebble smart watch. He claims that because of the way it was designed, funded, marketed, and built, it was "simply better" than offerings of large corporations. But Pebble has foundered. Likewise, Anderson sells up the Square charge card reader, which has certainly made its mark, but has hardly overpowered the corporate giant NCR. Finally, Anderson makes much of Virgin Galactic, which, after a number of fatal accidents is dead in the water. Contrast to SpaceX.

Both Anderson and Hatch suffer from a number of problems with their thinking.

First, they both suffer from an extreme case of "technological determinism", the idea that with changes in technology necessarily comes (positive) social and cultural change. They also think that all that is needed for change is a new tool. As a science and technology studies scholar, I can tell you that no invention succeeds until society adapts to it and that no technology survives its encounter with society and culture without some change.

Second, they (and Dougherty too) conceive of the power of new fabrication technology as being primarily one of *access* (they use the word "democratization" to mean access to tech, not necessarily other forms of cultural, social, and personal engagement). While I am not an anarchic syndicalist, questions of open source and peer-to-peer production are worth exploring, and disappointingly Anderson addresses them only in the Epilogue and with just a couple of pages of discussion dismisses everything but the classic commercial option. I wasn't impressed.

Both Hatch and Anderson are far too credulous over the power of amateur design, something that is salient at the moment (April 2018) in the wake of the arrest of the amateur designer, owners, and operators of the Verrückt waterslide in Kansas City, Kansas for the 2016 decapitation death of a young boy. Moreover, other recent deaths have been attributed to the distribution of synthetic marjihuana products, a practice Anderson discusses on p. 223 (as part of DIY biology). While not entirely approving, Anderson is also not at all disapproving despite the very real risks involved with DIY biological efforts (Anderson at many places betrays a cyber-libertarian orientation that goes a long way towards explaining his positions on many issues. His views are of a piece with a lot of Silicon Valley residents, see Paulina Borsook CYBERSELFISH). Further, the accidental deaths of workers at Scaled Composites working with the Virgin Galactic spacecraft was also attributed to poor understanding of the hazards as well as proper operating procedures.

As discussed above, Makers as non-commercial amateurs or even Making as educational is almost entirely ignored even though these constitute the majority of makers. This dovetails into an almost deliberate ignorance about the barriers (personal, financial, educational, etc) to making that prevent many from being makers and putting the lie to the claim that "we are all Makers". What makes this strange is the fact that Anderson himself confesses to often not being all that skilled at working with his hands. He should have been a great interlocutor for the difficulties of obtaining Making skills. This was a lost opportunity.

Above all, Anderson's book, like Hatch's, suffers greatly from the prose style employed. Both seem to owe a lot to the malign influence of the NYT columnist and author Thomas Friedman - one of the great sources of bad writing in the modern period. I actually had the darkly amusing experience of reading a particular passage on p. 145 and lamenting how "Friedmanian" it sounded, only to see Friedman's name pop up three pages later. I will say that Anderson is a moderately better prose stylist than Hatch, or at least Anderson wasn't hawking his own wares nearly as egregiously, but the relentless boosterism and constant, unflagging use of "global absolutes" (everything, everyone, the only, the best, will, and so on). By contrast, Doughterty's book is much more muted and extensively uses qualifiers. I suspect Dougherty and his co-writer Ariane Conrad were reacting to the tone of Hatch and Anderson's book as well as to the fact that a decade and a half after the founding of MAKE (by Dougherty) means that the "honeymoon" is over (even if the marriage is generally happy).

I don't want to only damn Anderson, despite my serious reservations. One area where Anderson is distinctly better than Hatch is in how Anderson describes the importance of organization, marketing, and finance to entrepreneurship. Unlike Hatch, Anderson was a successful entrepreneur, and the lack of these details in Hatch's book is, shall we say, suggestive. Hatch came out of a big business background, which perhaps explains some of TechShop's troubles.

However, even here, Anderson's discussions of these important "back office" or "logistical" functions is marred by his insistence that the new tools of the Internet and social media like Kickstarter and other institutions and practices means a "new world" of business. Some six years on, the landscape looks somewhat different. Kickstarter has done a lot, but many parts of the "old order" carry on.

One thing, however, actually made me very angry about this book, and it was the references. To me, the gold standard consists of standard numerically ordered footnotes/endnotes combined with a separate and complete bibliography. Some other endnote ordering systems are ok, if not great. I greatly dislike endnotes without a separate bibliography because I hate trawling through endnotes for the reference(s) I need. Let me be clear, I am a professional and as a scholar, and references are essential for reviewing what has been written preparatory to doing new and original work. Good references give additional places to look when developing understanding but they also tell something of the overall conversation itself. Just as a well-connected person can walk into a reception and pick up on the general composition of a group by identifying particular individuals, I can use the references to very quickly make sense of a particular author's work, where it can sit in the overall literature, and how it could connect to other conversations.

But I have rarely encountered endnotes as careless and thoughtless as the ones in this book. What really made me angry was in many cases Anderson just used unannotated URLs. In other words, instead of at least giving a title or a name or something, it was just the hypertext link. In the one case where I tried following that link, it turned out the link was dead. The site was still up and it still had an archive (this was for the Meyers Manxter kit car) but since Anderson had not given additional information, it was not straightforward to figure out. I suppose that I could have given time and energy, but this is awful scholarship and indicates how the Internet can encourage bad habits and bad craftsmanship. End of rant.

In many ways, the flaws of this book are good for me because they indicate ways in which I and others can contribute to this important conversation. However, these flaws are also serious because people are perhaps reading these books without a good sense of what is wrong with the argument. Also, we need fewer examples of this kind of prose style, we have too many already.
Profile Image for Scarlet.
266 reviews15 followers
February 20, 2013
I originally picked up this book because I thought it might have some useful observations about life as a micro-entrepreneur. Anderson does talk a little bit about this, and seems to have a particular fondness for Etsy, which is where I do most of my online selling. But his larger interest is in how on-demand manufacturing is beginning to revolutionize the global economy, with some intriguing asides about how Karl Marx might react to seeing the tools of production being put into the hands of the workers, and how he thinks the United States could become a world leader in manufacturing again.

There was a little too much about 3D printing to keep my interest, but given his investment stake in this industry, I guess it's understandable. And at least I have a better understanding of what it is now. People have been telling me for years about this cool newfangled thing, but I guess I didn't really get that it could be used for more than just making relief maps until I listened to this book.
Profile Image for uosɯɐS .
297 reviews
July 13, 2015
We are now in the midst of a new type of industrial revolution. Probably at least half of this book is about 3D printing, and all of the advantages that gives to small start-up manufacturing companies (or even non-company hobbyists and hobbyists internet communities) that cater to long-tail customization oriented clientele. To be sure, there are many advantages of 3D printing in that regard. However, in the context of so many other ideas and technologies: the internet, open-source mentality, crowdfunding, etc - we are set to see not just lots of cool, new options, but a true global economic revolution. Giant manufacturers of today are all very limited by their supply-chains; the new manufacturers will posses an agility that will easily out-compete these giants. Next stop? Nanobots, DNA construction workers, and Star Trek replicators ;-)

Profile Image for Genevieve.
Author 7 books123 followers
January 22, 2015
* Originally reviewed on the Night Owls Press blog here. *

It’s easier than ever before to be an entrepreneur and start a business. This is a good thing. Chris Anderson starts with this basic premise in his book Makers The New Industrial Revolution. And he’s not just talking about web-based and cloud-based businesses that dominate the world of startups. He’s talking about the “Real World of Places and Stuff.” In other words, businesses that make things.

He’s talking about manufacturing… You’re thinking: Isn’t manufacturing dying? But consider this statistic. According to Anderson, the digital economy is roughly $20 trillion. Beyond the Web, the economy of things is $130 trillion. (Whoa. Yes, that got my attention, too.)

Manufacturing isn’t dying. It’s being transformed.

The central idea in Makers is that the same basic conditions of technology, funding, distribution, and demand in the economy of bits can drive a revolution in the economy of things.

Makers is divided up into two parts: Part One discusses “The Revolution”—what it looks like and why and how it’s happening. The most interesting chapter in that section is Chapter 4 “We Are All Designers Now.” Anderson starts off with a fascinating discussion about how we all became our own designers in the economy of bits when desktop publishing became all the rage. We take it for granted now, but think back to how MS Word and PowerPoint made it so easy to make digital documents that could then be distributed or printed from home. Printing and designing a document used to be a manufacturing process; printing presses were huge factories. From there, Anderson pitches readers the new frontiers being carved out in the world of things through 3-D printing.

It’s like the world of bits and things, which were largely separate in the 20th century, suddenly collided and recombined.

What are the possibilities? Enormous. Think: furniture, toys, machine parts, even human organs. A world that is sometimes called the “Internet of Things.” Think of the future of new industries focused purely on designing bespoke templates that could then be sold, shared, or circulated. With printers at home or at community hacker spaces (e.g., TechShop), individuals and households can become their own makers.

Anderson quotes MIT professor Neil Gershenfeld’s speech at Maker Faire:

“I realized that the killer app for digital fabrication is personal fabrication. Not to make what you can buy in Wal-Mart, but to make what you can’t buy in Wal-Mart.”

Artisanal, small-batch manufacturing. That’s the maker revolution.

Part Two of the book is boldly titled “The Future.” This section covers all the tools and conditions that make the maker revolution possible. Anderson discusses the familiar territory of new markets (Chapter 7), organizational changes (Chapter 9), crowdfunding (Chapter 10), and the cloud (Chapter 11). Granted, these ideas are only familiar to most readers because we think of all that in terms of web-based businesses or businesses in the digital space. Until five years ago, a microentrepreneur that made things didn’t really have access. It was expensive and time-consuming to make something at market-scale. Now what we’re seeing is a dovetailing of that technology that made it so easy for digital entrepreneurs with the manufacturing space.

It looks like this: You can create prototypes on your computer with off-the-shelf or free, open-source software like SketchUp and Tinkercad. The power of information-sharing through social networks and communication platforms makes it easy to collaborate on design with your end-users, fostering intimate connections with your markets. Then you can upload your prototype file to a 3-D printer or factory, which can then produce whatever you need, whether it’s a hundred or a million widgets. Need financing and captial? Crowdfund your product through Kickstarter or put your design on Quirky. From there, you can sell your product on Etsy, Alibaba, or other global marketplace, which takes care of distribution.

Inventing and creating are no longer separate processes.

What is the impact of this maker movement on growth? That is the darker question. Anderson argues that growth within this new economic paradigm means more productivity, albeit with less workers. This may be disturbing to some. The idea of massive companies with large workforces that sustain a middle class is more a throwback to the 1950s and 1960s than the future Anderson is imagining. Fewer jobs tend to sustain higher tech manufacturing. It is a bitter pill to swallow.

But Anderson is zealously optimistic. In a 2012 interview with Forbes, Anderson explained it this way:

“This movement, through the use of the traditional engine of the start-up economy, small business, plus the Web’s innovation model of opening up to lots more people, plus automation, ends up bringing more manufacturing back to the West, the United States in particular. I’m confident that digital fabrication technology, just like the personal computer and the Web before it, will ultimately be a job driver in the U.S.”

His book largely reflects this optimistic outlook on the 21st century workshop. Is it realistic? Too soon to say…

As a publisher of a previous book on the new economy, Working in the UnOffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits, I have much to admire in Anderson’s Makers. The values that underlie the maker revolution are the same that feed the coworking movement: collaboration and openness. What is really revolutionary about the maker movement is the access it is giving people. Anyone can be a maker entrepreneur. Anyone can be a company. “The beauty of the Web is that it democratized the tools both of invention and production,” Anderson writes. “We are all designers now. It’s time to get good at it.”

The writing in Makers is analytical and insightful, yet personal, too. Readers will find personal, colorful anecdotes from Anderson entertaining. The book also includes a wonderful appendix of technical resources, including “Getting started with CAD,” “Getting started with laser cutting,” and “Getting started with CNC machines.”

Overall, Makers is a compelling book for people looking to get a glimpse of the future. It is wonderfully written and chock full of useful information even for those who aren’t budding makers.

[Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for an honest and candid review.]
46 reviews
March 29, 2019
The book is not for all audiences and it is targeted for those who are really interested in the maker movement. Mr. Anderson is clearly an enthusiast, and the book is more about what some hobbyists have done than a real analysis of a new industrialization. In that aspect the book is very superficial.

Although there are several examples of startups and other hobbyists’ success stories, we don’t have statistics on how much the maker movement is making. I read this book several years after its publication, and few of the described companies are no longer in business or have changed their original purpose. Just a glaring example is “Tesla” that is no the big customization company that Mr. Anderson describes. The realities of economics changed that.

The “New Industrial Revolution” does not delve deep in how the revolution is really happening. No answers to how many jobs the “new industrialization” has created, and we don’t know how many jobs are around either. Is this a mirage? The reader won’t know because again there is not analysis, just a list of success stories.

On the other hand, if you are inclined to build your own stuff and entrepreneurship this book is a good read. The same success stories show a path that any person can follow. The author himself is an example of that.
Profile Image for Matthew.
234 reviews64 followers
June 9, 2013
After this book I'm a confirmed fan of Chris Anderson; both 'Long Tail' and 'Makers' have been solid books that broaden the horizon, I skipped 'Free' but may go back to read it now. That said I do think there are some limits to his theory that small-batch manufacturing will revolutionise manufacturing supply chains and represents the 3rd industrial revolution.

Makers is essentially an extended feature (slash sales pitch) on the idea that an open-source network of small-scale designers and manufacturers can out-innovate established, vertically integrated industrial giants. There are many moving parts to this, including social networks organized around specialized interests (e.g. robotics, jellyfish tanks, model helicopters, etc), 3D manufacturing and its offshoots (enabling relatively low cost manufacture of small batches of prototypes customised to fit the needs of particular consumer communities), and open-source financing (e.g. crowdfunding via Kickstarter). Anderson discusses how each part has significant advantages over the traditional process of inhouse corporate designers, bureacracy, product commodification and scale. To his credit, he also discusses the limitations of open-source manufacturing in areas that require large financial investment over a long period in, for example, safety testing, such as in the area of space/aviation.

The idea that the ultimte buyers of a product can be actively and intimately involved in its design and manufacture is attractive, as is the concept of small batch manufacture rather than excess inventory much of which ends in waste dumps. Another powerful idea is that of the multi-lateral social network as a model for industrial organisation, as opposed to the unilateral blog format -- not entirely new but more broadly applied.

But Anderson also argues that all this equates to 3rd industrial revolution and the democratizing power of the internet moving from the world of 'bits' (information) to the world of 'atoms' (stuff). He makes the point that the steam engine (1st IR) and mass manufacturing (2nd IR) had the broad life changing impact they had because they influenced hardware, as opposed to just software, and thus more relevant to more people and more parts of our lives. My problem with this is that: (i) 3D printing, etc, are applicable for only a small subset of things I would use daily, e.g. maybe toys for my cats; for slightly more complex things, like a toaster or microwave, even apparel, I couldn't conceivably manufacture on my own -- too complex, much easier to buy from a store. (ii) Humans already have too much stuff -- the 1st and 2nd IRs enabled mass consumption by bringing costs down, the 3rd IR may change how things are produced and allow for more customisation, but I don't see it as meaning that in 20 years we all have fives more stuff than we do now -- that would be a disaster environmentally. (iii) How applicable is all this outside the elite communities with high levels of internet access and literacy?

Profile Image for Abdurrahman Turk.
48 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2015
İlk olarak çalıştığı işten memnun olmayan, hayattan zevk almayan birisiyseniz bu kitabı kesinlikle okumanızı öneririm!!!
Belki bu kitapta anlatılan örnekler size ilham verir ve öncelikle hobi olarak sonrasında ise para kazandığınız bir iş alanı bulursunuz.

Do It Yourself (DIY) yaklaşımı sanırım kitle kaynaktan (crowdsourcing) daha bilindik bir konu. Living Lab / Open Lab gibi adlarla Türkiye'de de üniversitelerde hatta belediyelerin tahsis ettiği bazı alanlarda açılan atölyeler var (Kalkınma Ajansı desteğiyle son olarak Koç Üniversitesi Kuluçka Merkezinde bir atölye kuruluyor). Bu merkezler gençlerin yaratıcılıklarını geliştirmeleri ve girişimciliği artırmayı amaçlaya dursun başta Amerika'da olmak üzere birçok firma bu yöntem ile üretim yapmaya ve milyon dolarlar kazanmaya başladılar. Almanya'nın Endüstri 4.0 olarak adlandırdığı üretimde bilgi-iletişim teknolojilerinin kullanımının yaygınlaştığı günümüzde, 3B yazıcılar ve kitle kaynağın birlikte evirdiği yeni bir sanayi devrimine geçmemiz çok şaşırtıcı olmaz.

Kitap ile ilgili yorumlara hızlıca göz attım. Açık söylemek gerekirse biraz hayal kırıklığı ve üzüntü duydum. İnsanlar bir kitabı hangi beklentiler içinde okumaya başlıyor anlamıyorum. Bu tarz kitaplar size sunuluş şeklinden çok sunduğu bilgi ve kapsamı ile değerlendirilmeli. Bu kitap yaşlı-genç her kesimden insanın anlayabileceği ve eğer içinde küçük bir istek varsa kendi kendine birşeyler üretme isteği uyandıracak bir kitap. Konuya ilginiz varsa kitle kaynak üzerine de bir kitap okumanızı öneririm.

Eğer kitabın adına aldandınız ve asıl merak ettiğiniz konu teknolojinin ilerlemesi ve otomasyon/robotik teknolojilerin gelişmesi ile üretimde yaşanan/yaşanacak değişimler ise bu konuda Kemal İnan hocanın "Teknolojik İş(lev)sizlik" kitabını okumanızı öneririm.
1 review1 follower
May 13, 2013
In Chris Anderson's book "Makers: The New Industrial Revolution", Anderson retells many accounts of technological innovations and the people and ideas that are behind them. Chris tells the story of a future where we can simply print off anything we need using futuristic 3D printers. He believes that the way our society is set up right now is causing this age to become a new industrial revolution. Inventors are in positions to make their ideas become realities in a fashion that is much simpler than it used to be. My favorite chapter of the book is when he tells the story of how "Square", a mobile credit card reader came to be. The inventor was a glassblower, and he needed to be able to accept a payment from someone in South America. Because he was unable to take her credit card info, he decided to invent something that would allow every day people to take this information and use it to sell their products. This book is full of stories like these. It's interesting to learn the background behind some of the technologies we know and love to this day. The book also talks about new ways for inventors to raise money, such as Kickstarter.com. Nowadays, any good idea can get the attention of thousands of investors by simply creating a video and setting up a page. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Chris Anderson's book. He creates an informative and personal story that helps you better understand the age that we're living in. His case studies all reinforce his hypothesis that the age we are living in is unlike any other. While I do believe he could have focused more on some of the negative affects these innovations are doing to the environment, I feel like I learned a lot and I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in technology.
Profile Image for George Bounacos.
9 reviews7 followers
November 10, 2012
Disclaimer: I received this book free at GoodReads. Receiving a copy did not require me to write a review, and the free copy did not influence my opinion.

Makers is an important book in the same way that The Long Tail or The Tipping Point were important. Author Chris Anderson is a modern polymath, simultaneously serving as editor of Wired magazine, founder of a manufacturing company and taking over the popular TED conference series.

Anderson is a writer who lives on the bleeding edge. More than a decade at Wired and years at TED ensure he is constantly surrounded by thought leaders.

Makers delves into the nascent field of small businesses and individuals using 3-D printing technology that work in plastics and other materials to create things. Anderson traces the entire history of the movement, shares his vision for the future and profiles all parts of the maker ecosystem.

Readers will appreciate Anderson's deep knowledge and understanding of what makes this new manufacturing process the next big thing. And his projection is likely correct.

But as The Long Tail grew from an originally contentious magazine article and sprawled into a lazily edited book, Makers ultimately suffers from Anderson's storytelling style. Ultimately, this is a well researched story and too long by half.

The topic would make a brilliant long magazine piece or long TED talk. In its current form, it is too long for casual readers and too simplistic for early adopters of this new technology.
Profile Image for Darcy.
1 review10 followers
February 5, 2015
Very interesting concept. I think he makes a good argument, but fails to eliminate some counter arguments on some topics. Having said that, it inspired some ideas that can be implemented in my own non-Maker world.

Also, I should probably think about reading The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More as this is the second book of Chris Anderson's that I've read where he discusses it, but I'm still not clear on the entire concept. I guess it's time to speak to the VP and see if he has a copy in his office library.
Profile Image for Senem Turhan.
3 reviews
August 23, 2015
Although I agree with many of the things in the book such as opportunities of digital fabrication tools and open source, I am not so sure about the utopia that Anderson has pictured. The last half of the book made me think about how dystopia of maker movement would be regarding the situation of manufacturing employees, liability, safety of products or consumer protection. Many other questions have pop up in my mind. He has too much focused on the glow of digital FAB which distracted him to see the possible limitations of maker movement. That might be the business orientated nature of this book. I still recommend this book, since it helps you (if you are not from business or marketing background) understand why some people are so fascinated about digital fabrication.
Profile Image for John Stepper.
504 reviews19 followers
December 26, 2012
Very good. The book works on multiple levels. It reads like a journalist's well-written summary of he maker movement. And it also reads like a fist-hand account of someone personality involved with and in love with the trend. Finally, individual stories - eg the one about his CEO at 3D Robotics - are engaging and useful even if you aren't interested in the maker movement at all.

I saw the author present the same material at a conference in October and it was a fantastic talk. Great stories, well-told, that will teach you something and make you think.
Profile Image for John Storey.
6 reviews3 followers
March 30, 2013
Just finished this book about 2 weeks ago. Since then I have already come into contact with a Makerbot and plan on manufacoring my first product this month. I'm so stoked on this you don't even know. In the same way personal computers changed our lives after being developed through the 70s-80s. That time is NOW for manufacturing, but at an economic scale 5 times greater than internet business! Check out my project: www.cstmstuff.com
Profile Image for Phil Simon.
Author 24 books96 followers
March 15, 2013
As in his previous books, Anderson introduces big ideas. In the near future, every home can be a de facto manufacturing facility. Rife with interesting anecdotes (including some personal ones), this is anything but a dry "techie" book.

Read this book if you want to see a glimpse of the future. Ignore it at your own peril.
Profile Image for Barb Wiseberg.
153 reviews1 follower
June 20, 2013
Loved it - from the first page to the last, Chris Anderson gives new hope and insight to what our future, and our children's future, could be.

The road to this new revolution is rocky, and nothing like we've ever seen before, but I look forward to it, don't you?
Profile Image for Adriaan Jansen.
151 reviews23 followers
February 15, 2016
''Makers'' tells the story of 3D printing and Open Innovation. The book gives the latest developments and offers some ideas and suggestions on how both 3D printing and Open Innovation may impact entrepreneurship, business in general, and the overall economy. As such, ''Makers'' offers some glimpses on what the future may hold in store for us as consumers, producers, entrepreneurs and employers.

Despite these glimpses of a possible future, most parts of the book are focused on the technical aspects of 3D printing and Open Innovation. This makes ''Makers'' an interesting complement to Jeremy Rifkin's excellent ''The Zero Marginal Cost Society''. Rifkin places 3D printing, Open Innovation and several related concepts in a broader context and gives an overview of what the future of capitalism may look like. In ''Makers'', Chris Anderson shares some of Rifkin's ideas, yet doesn't go as far as Rifkin in presenting us with a challenging bigger picture of how the latest developments in technology and human interaction will change our lives.

So where Rifkin gives the bigger picture, Anderson often focusses on how things actually work. He does this in a very personal way, when he describes the difficulties his grandfather experienced when trying to bring to market his inventions, his own shift from atoms (working as a child in his grandfather's hobby-workshop) to bits (among others, as a director of the magazine ''Wired'') back to atoms (with his own 21st century hobby-workshop with 3D printers and laser cutters) and, most importantly, his own experiences with Open Innovation with the internet community DIY Drones and his company he co-founded, 3D Robotics.

In recent years, much has changed from the situation faced by Anderson's grandfather, who, in the first half of the 20th century, had to invent and build his prototypes all on his own in his garage, then patent his invention and hope to sell licenses of his patent to a company to get his invention to market. Nowadays inventors can easily share ideas on-line, build on each other's discoveries and ideas, make a prototype with CAD (Computer Aided Design) software, print the prototype with their own 3D printer at home or send the CAD file to a local workshop for digital fabrication and have it printed there, and sell their product on their own website or more general sites.

The above is made possible by recent developments in digital fabrication. Chris Anderson describes the following technologies that play a crucial role in digital fabrication:
- CAD software: Computer Aided Design = Software programs that allow you to design 3D objects on the screen of your computer.
- 3D Printers: A 3D object is printed layer by layer, from bottom to top. A 3D printer has one set of motors that move horizontally, allowing a print-head to deposit material, often plastic, according to the instructions included in the CAD design. Once that layer is finished, a second set of motors moves the print-head vertically, up one level so that the next layer can be added. A 3D printer thus adds material to create an object.
- CNC Machines: CNC machines take the opposite approach and, in a way, work like sculptors: From a block of material, a CNC machine removes part of the material to create an object.
- Laser Cutters: On its own, not really a 3D device: A Laser Cutter cuts any 2D material into a desired shape, like scissors cut paper. Often, several of these 2D shapes are combined to form a 3D object.
- 3D Scanners: These allow you to turn a physical object in the real world into a digital file, just like a 2D scanner translates a page into a digital document.

These new technologies are complemented with how we have started to communicate and share via internet. Collaboration, community driven sharing of ideas and open source methodologies have flourished since the beginning of the internet to create open source software. The usual example of this Open Innovation is Linux, the open source operating system.

Anderson shows that the new 3D digital fabrication technologies and improved on-line networks have allowed communities of creators and inventors to also apply this bottom-up Open Innovation to the production of physical objects: Open Source Hardware.

As an example, Anderson describes how he first started an on-line community, DIY Drones (diydrones.com) and later, with the help of that on-line community, started a company, 3D Robotics (3dr.com). After a first try to built robots and planes for his kids sparked his interest in drones, Anderson decided to share his findings on-line. This was in 2007, and until then people often opted for a blog, allowing mostly for one-way communication, to share their ideas and creations on-line. Crucially, Anderson decided to create an on-line community, where everybody could contribute ideas and suggestions. Many people posted designs for drones, others contributed with corrections and suggestions. Using the designs, any member of the community could build a drone for himself.
Anderson realised that to make the designs and ideas of his on-line community accessible to a wider audience, he should offer not just the designs on his site, but sell kits that would make it easier for anybody to build a drone. Thus he started a company to sell those kits, 3D Robotics. This company sells kits for drones based on the designs made by the community. Crucial contributors receive monetary and non-monetary rewards. This is Open Source Hardware: Just as Linux is made by a community and companies like Red Hat sell services based on that community product, the designs for the drones are made by the community, and 3D Robotics sells a real life hard copy of the designs made by the community.

Obviously, with this open design you risk competition from cheap copies. In such an Open Innovation setting, there is no room for strict patents.

So what is the advantage of building a company like this? Anderson cites Sun Microsoft's Bill Joy to explain why. Joy's law states: ''No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else''. So if you limit the creation of new products and services to your in-house R&D department, you will depend exclusively on the bright people who work for you, which is only a fraction of the talent that is available worldwide. Conversely, in an Open Innovation setting, you can tap into all the talent that is available anywhere. Don't forget: Good ideas can come from anywhere. This, of course, explains part of the success of Linux and Wikipedia.

Anderson argues that, by using Open Innovation and tapping into all the available talent, new products can be developed faster and cheaper. Additionally, those products have a high chance of being better than similar products designed and produced by just one company. Of course, we have already seen this ''Faster, Cheaper, Better'' when it comes to software. New 3D Digital Fabrication technologies have made the benefits of Open Innovation now also applicable to hardware.

This has resulted in the ''Maker Movement'', of which Anderson describes 3 characteristics:
1. People use digital tools in their own homes to design new products and to make prototypes.
2. The cultural norm is to share those designs and to collaborate with other in on-line communities.
3. Common standards for the digital files of the designs are used so that anybody can send their design to commercial digital fabrication sites and have their designs turned into physical products in the amount they want.

An important conclusion: Location is less and less important when it comes to production of physical goods. Ideas are more important than geography. This is in line with what Luis Garicano also remarked in ''El Dilema de España'': El valor añadido en los procesos productivos hoy en día está antes de la fabricación (en I+D) y después de ésta (en servicios), no en la fabricación misma (The real value is no longer in the production of goods, but before production (ideas) and after production (services). With digital fabrication sites like Fab Labs (fabfoundation.org) and Techshop (techshop.ws), manufacturing is becoming a service in the cloud.

Besides turning manufacturing into a cloud-based service, 3D printing offers advantages that traditional large scale manufacturing can't offer:
- Variety is free: There are no additional costs to have the 3D printer make a different version of a CAD design. Unlike machines in a traditional factory, 3D printers don't require a change in set-up for a different product.
- Complexity is free: The cost of printing the a simple object and a complicated one will only depend on the time it takes to print and the type of material used. A complicated prototype of a skyscraper can cost as much to print as a simple tea-cup.
- Flexibility is free: To change a product once production has started, you only need to change the software instructions. The machine stays the same. Again: Unlike machines in a traditional factory, 3D printers don't require a change in set-up for a different product.

The result is that inventors and creators can easily build prototypes and small batches of their product. Once demand for a product is proven, mass production becomes an option, and traditional large scale factories will be more cost efficient: If economies of scale apply, traditional production will be more appropriate than 3D printing. Note that 3D printing has the same constant unit costs, independent of the amount of units produced.

On top of this easy access to the means of production (3D printers costs as little of $ 1000) that inventors now enjoy, also easy access to finance has become available, besides the traditional options of bank loans and venture capital: Anderson describes in some detail how crowdfunding works. A nice benefit of sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that a crowdfunding campaign is not only about raising money, but also a way to do market research and measure interest in the project or product. If the objective amount is not reached before a deadline, the project doesn't receive any funding (and money is returned to investors). Anderson argues that a product that doesn't reach its crowdfunding objective probably would not have been a success in the real world.

Makers is an interesting book that gives a first idea of the variety of ways products will be produced in the future. However, due to its focus on how the technology works and its detailed descriptions of concepts like crowdfunding, ''Makers'' runs a bit the risk of being quickly outdated because many of the concepts and technologies are becoming mainstream. ''Makers'' was written in 2012, and for example, I doubt that Anderson would have included such a long description of crowdfunding if he were to re-write the book in 2016.

Personally I would have preferred more focus on the future, perhaps similar to Jeremy Rifkin. At the end of the book Anderson gives some ideas that deserved to be explored more, like these lines from the epilogue: ''In a future where many more things can be made to order, as opposed to manufactured, distributed, stored and sold, an opportunity can be seen for an industrial economy less conditioned by commercial interests and more determined by social interests, exactly like already has occurred with software''. Too bad Anderson doesn't walk down this road a little further.
22 reviews
March 28, 2022
Pretty good book for someone who taking their first dive into the Maker space, though, if you're a seasoned veteran there probably isn't much in here that you don't already know. Below are some key topics covered.

1 – The DIY era of web and home improvement has made its way to manufacturing and just like open-source software has become ubiquitous, so too are open-source 3d models and manufacturing resources. Open source manufacturing is quickly allowing for demands to be met that might otherwise have not been – an example given is hobbyists developing 3d printable weapons for Lego figures. With Lego themselves being reluctant to create realistic weapons, Makers are coming together to develop their own open source ones to meet their needs – some of these hobbyists have even been able to develop lucrative businesses.

2 – With 3d printing becoming more ubiquitous, prototyping has become the cheapest it has ever been, enabling would-be inventors to quickly iterate on their designs for vastly cheaper than would otherwise be possible. The author asserts that 3d printing is in the early stages of its life, and like with the printing press, technological developments will enable it to become both cheap and accessible to most people.

3 - Crowd funding, while a great way to get funds for a project, is also a great way to test the water for the viability of a project. Don’t reach your goal? Maybe your product isn’t meeting the needs of your target audience. Having this test available makes new product ventures less risky because no production actually needs to take place, so no manufacturing equipment, stock, or components need to be purchased before knowing there’s a market for the product.
When you invest in a crowd funded project, you typically get access to the developers of the project, which fosters participation from supporters, which can lead to a feeling of involvement in the project for the backers, which then leads to the backers being more likely to share the project with others. An example used is the smartwatch project, Pebble, which within 3 weeks reached $10mil.

4 – Digital & open source manufacturing techniques as well as automation are enabling developed countries to rival the low cost of labour of less developed countries, which, the author posits, will result in an influx of manufacturing coming back to the developed world. Moving back to the developed world also mitigates other costs, such as environmental, political and stability issues with other countries, alongside wage strikes in places like China, currency fluctuations and global shipping issues.

5 – Reduced barriers to entry, cost and the wide availability of quality training for open source manufacturing and 3d printing will mean larger manufacturing companires are likely going to be competing with smaller manufacturers who develop products for niche markets. The author uses both publishing (Newspapers vs Wordpress) and broadcasting (Typical TV vs Youtube) as examples for what to expect to happen for manufacturing in the future, asserting that as the cost of 3d printing goes down it will become ubiquitous – creating a situation where we may never again have to rely on a major manufacturer.
Profile Image for Amy.
106 reviews2 followers
August 6, 2017
In "Makers," Chris Anderson gives a solid overview of important developments in software and manufacturing that allow hobbyists to easily create their own designs through AutoCAD or similar programs, get feedback on their ideas through online communities and see their products come to life, made either by small 3D printers or CNC machines, or through relatively seamless orders placed at factories, often overseas. Building on his arguments in "The Long Tail," Anderson waxes about a revolution in the way that products are designed, made and distributed.

In the five years since "Makers" was published, it's become clear that Anderson was onto a significant movement. I found his discussion of the different types of 3D printers and CNC machines valuable for understanding the options available to small manufacturers. I admired how his tinkering with drones transformed into a multimillion-dollar company, 3D Robotics. (It has since crashed, excuse the pun, and reinvented itself: see here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/... and here: https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/27/inv...)

The appendix at the end of the book is a good resource for those who want to dabble themselves. The technology I found most fascinating, printing organs, was in its infancy when Anderson published the book and has since advanced dramatically: https://www.economist.com/news/scienc....

Anderson is a utopian, and a weakness of the book is its failure to sincerely grapple with the downsides of the Maker movement. Most obviously, it relies heavily on mostly free and volunteer labor. Anderson has little patience for companies that have to deal with safety regulations and consumer protection (in a discussion of modern kit cars, he points out that if you care about features such as airbags, "this probably isn't the car for you"). He treats rampant issues with piracy and counterfeit goods on Alibaba as mere nuisances, though trade groups worldwide would disagree. (One study estimates that counterfeits account for 12.5 percent of China's exports, with Alibaba a prime offender: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ywang/20...). And perhaps because Anderson draws on his previous writing, parts of the book can feel repetitive.

The ecosystem Anderson describes is entirely male (try searching the book for the words "she" or "her," and you get only a few references to his mother and daughters). He discusses Etsy, which provides a marketplace for plenty of women artists. But he couldn't find any women in leadership at the nexis of tech and manufacturing? The "Maker heroes" he cites late in the book are: 1) an aerospace pioneer who sold out to a giant weapons maker; 2) a guy who makes contemporary weapons for Lego toys -- because Lego refuses to make them as a breach of its company ethics; and 3) Jack Dorsey. I can't quite relate.
Profile Image for Michele.
148 reviews11 followers
June 25, 2018
2.5 star rating. Contains some good technical descriptions of the current maker movement, but awkward attempts at describing psychology, sociology, and history (that maybe.... appeared to be based on personal opinion) left me cringing several times. I thought the chapters were mostly full of stories that the author found cool but overall didn't know how to piece together into a book-length narrative. The 9 page chapter on "DIY Biology" at the end of the book was random and felt like a last-minute add on. Either flesh that out more and make it cohesive with the rest of the book, or don't include it.

Further, the way Chris Anderson described the maker movement made me think of another typical boys' club (even though women are a huge part of the DIY movement; hello Pinterest?). He quoted women (who weren't his family) only 3 times the entire book (one of whom was Whoopi Goldberg) and only used male pronouns to describe hypothetical makers or tech workers. This might seem subtle/inconsequential to most but made me flashback to high school when my friend and I joined the "tech club" as the only girls and the instructor would only teach us GarageBand but taught the other members (who were all boys) CAD and electronics (and yes, we did ask to be taught those things too. He just wouldn't teach us even though I explained that I wanted to be an engineer and wanted to know CAD too...). Made me realize all over again how indifferent and unwelcoming the tech industry can be to those who don't look like the "typical" maker or techie. Even while waxing on about how "accessible" 3D printing and coding is nowadays! So even though Anderson talked about how the maker movement could be open to anyone, I'm not sure how much he digested that message to understand what anyone could look like.

Still can't wait to start making! But wouldn't recommend "Makers" to anyone.
Profile Image for Christopher.
Author 2 books48 followers
August 25, 2020
4.5 stars. Lots of things I already knew, many things I did not (for instance, the founding of Square and the strategic positioning intersection between bits and atoms). Chris Anderson is the author of The Long Tail — also called ‘power law distribution’ — which has been adapted by other great minds in business and entrepreneurship; such as Peter Thiel, Nassim Taleb, and Seth Godin. Although this book was written in 2012, we are only on the cusp of many of its predictions; which are just starting pick up traction en masse in 2020. This is especially true in wake of COVID-19, and how the pandemic has shifted both supply-side and production-side demand via public sentiment and heated geopolitics.

The role of bits vs. atoms is an extremely important concept that almost NO ONE else is talking about — except for Thiel — who never misses a chance to languish on the fact that progress in atoms has severely stagnated compared to that of progress in bits (in his own view, at least). The reason for the hyper-focus on bits rather than atoms, especially by investors in Tech (which is now a buzzword that has become synonymous with software, programming and code) is because they represent the low-hanging fruit of wealth creation via digital products with zero marginal costs of reproduction + infinite leverage; all of which frictionlessly flow over vast data networks allowed by undersea fiber optic cables — which form the foundation or the plumbing behind the global internet as we know it (or as Silicon Valley star investor Marc Andreeson puts it “software is eating the world.”).

(Read per Jack Ma’s recommendation. Did not disappoint!)

Christopher Armstrong,
Author of The Maker’s Field Guide: The Art & Science of Making Anything Imaginable
Profile Image for Nam KK.
87 reviews7 followers
February 1, 2020
This is read like the sequel of his first book, the Long Tail. The Long Tail is about the distribution of products (especially digital products, or ones that e-platforms such as Netflix, amazon, eBay help promote) - so that companies could afford to offer the non-hits to a more diverse audience and customers at a lower cost. The firms rely on recommendation to target the niche clients rather than a more traditional approach to maximize the value of shelf space of, for example, Walmart.

Similarly, Makers is about the distribution of manufacturing so that anyone could be an entrepreneur. The newly coming technology such as CNC, 2D laser cutters, 3D printers all make this new "movement" possible. Anderson himself capitalize on the new environment by setting up his own firm, 3D Robotics.

With all those said, this book is a very weak one. Despite being slightly more than 200 pages, it is just too long, typical with his style seen in The Long Tail. It came with redundant examples, the paragraphs on Tesla is one of them. What the point he is trying to make with Tesla? Tesla is just another startup. Oh yes, it was founded by a bunch of tech enthusiasts, and it leverages on the CNC machines - so it must be included in this book?

Thanks a lot, Mr. Anderson. I like your interview with Elon Musk, and his right arm lady Gwynne Shotwel in Spacex, but this book is a pass. Because of my experience with his two books (Long Tail and Makers), I think I would donate my third book of his, Free, or throw it to the trash bin. I made an uninformed purchase, and I regret. Can I have my money back?
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